You are currently viewing Android 13 can theoretically be installed on all smartphones (even old ones)

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

Phones that don’t meet the minimum requirements won’t be able to update to Android 13. But, when you look at those requirements…all smartphones (even old ones) are technically fit. Why can’t Android 13 be found on all smartphones in this case?

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

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

While waiting to see Android 13 on more devices, Google has communicated the minimum characteristics for this new version.

These recommendations have largely been 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

This seems very low at first glance, but Android is a system that adapts to many devices, not just 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 being deployed massively?

The lengthy update process

When a manufacturer ports a new version of Android, many individual steps are required. Each of them is costly in time and money. Mobile operators also play a role in the update process, as they need to assess the effects that features and changes will have on their networks.

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

If a manufacturer offers its own software interface, such as Samsung, Oppo, Honor, Xiaomi, etc., this adds time to porting.

One UI 5 on Samsung smartphones with Android 13

Also, if you want to license Google apps and have access to the Google “Android” trademark, you’ll need to comply with Google’s policies. This requires various expensive and time-consuming tests.

These steps are long and costly, it is one of the main obstacles to the deployment of new versions of Android on old smartphones. But, that’s not the only problem.

Old devices are abandoned…

As explained, updating an Android device does not just mean grafting Android code onto a device. You have to install a number of additional software components and perform various validation steps. This is where it can crash on older devices.

We can criticize the manufacturers regarding their update policy, but what about their suppliers? In fact, smartphones like the Nothing 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 that of the monitoring of this platform by Qualcomm.

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, pricing $1,500 on an Asus-designed device that’s supposedly aimed at the most geeky Snapdragon fans. Well… this smartphone is already way behind on Android updates, as well as security updates. It is still equipped with Android 11, while several manufacturers have started serious work on the deployment of Android 13.

The Fairphone 2 is repairable // Source: Frandroid

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

European regulators want to change the rules

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

In this bill, it has been noted that manufacturers will have to provide security updates for at least five years, and feature updates ” during three years.

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