Android 13 can theoretically be installed on all smartphones (even old ones)

Phones that do not meet the minimum requirements cannot update to Android 13. However, if you look at the requirements … all smartphones (even the old ones) are technically suitable. Why not find Android 13 on all smartphones in this case?

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Android 13 is available, Google made the source code available through AOSP (Android Open Source Project), Google Pixels also benefit from the latest version of Android.

While waiting to see Android 13 on many devices, Google announced the minimum characteristics for this new version.

These recommendations are mostly revised upwards, the minimum amount of storage is now 16 GB minimum (against 8 GB), while the RAM is 2 GB (instead of 1 GB).

Android 13
Source: Google

It seems very low at first glance, but Android is a system that adapts to many devices, not only smartphones.

It also means that technically, almost all smartphones in circulation can run Android 13, including the cheapest and even multi-year-old smartphones. So, in this case, why is the new update not deployed more widely?

The long update process

When a manufacturer ports a new version of Android, several individual steps are required. Each of them costs time and money. The mobile operators also have a role in the update process, because they have to check the effects that have features and changes in their networks.

Android versions provided by Google under the name AOSP (Android Open Source Project) does not work like a smartphone. The manufacturer of SoCs (System on a Chip) present in the smartphone adds the necessary software components, including ” pilots “. Then other software elements are added by the smartphone manufacturer, to take into account components such as the screen, sensors and camera modules.

If a manufacturer offers its own software interface, such as Samsung, Oppo, Honor, Xiaomi, etc., it increases porting time.

One_UI_5_Beta_main2
A UI 5 on Samsung smartphones with Android 13

Also, if you want to license Google apps and have access to Google’s “Android” trademark, you must follow Google’s policies. This requires a variety of expensive and time-consuming tests.

These steps are long and expensive, it is one of the main obstacles to deploying new versions of Android on old smartphones. However, that is not the only problem.

Old devices are abandoned…

As explained, updating an Android device doesn’t just mean grafting Android code onto a device. You will need to install several additional software components and perform various validation steps. This is where it can crash on older devices.

We can criticize manufacturers about their update policy, but what about their suppliers? In fact, smartphones like No Phone (1) will not be updated to Android 13 before 2023. The fault is the SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 778+. This is not a performance problem, however, it is the monitoring of this Qualcomm platform.

In theory, since 2022, Qualcomm has announced that it will guarantee four versions of the Android operating system and four years of security updates for all Snapdragon platforms using Project Treble improvements.

In practice, Qualcomm has released its first smartphone, priced at $1,500 on an Asus-designed device that is supposedly aimed at the geekiest Snapdragon fans. Well… this smartphone is lagging behind on Android updates, as well as security updates. It is still equipped with Android 11, while many manufacturers have started the serious work of deploying Android 13.

fairphone-2-chez-orange-2
Fairphone 2 can be repaired // Source: Fandroid

Everyone is affected by this problem, including the best students. Fairphone, which promises 8 years of updates to its phones, explained that updating the Fairphone 2 has become too expensive. In question, the end of Qualcomm’s support for its SoC Snapdragon 801. Consider that it is enough to download the open-source version of Android, AOSP (Android Open Source Project), that’s pretty easy. Fairphone was forced to develop its own custom drivers for the Qualcomm Snapdragon.

In short, if you don’t have Android 13, it’s not only explained by the manufacturers’ update policies. This is also related to the abandonment of component support by their vendors. In particular, SoCs, which are a central part of smartphones.

European regulators want to change the rules

European Commission regulators want to change the habits of smartphone manufacturers. The latter will be obliged to provide 15 types of spare parts for five years, as well as provide software updates. The purpose is to reduce the environmental impact of these products.

In this bill, it is noted that manufacturers must provide security updates for at least five years, and feature updates ” for three years.


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