OnePlus often prides itself on the solid software support it extends to its relatively small smartphone lineup, and rightly so. Handsets as old as the OnePlus 5 (the one with a 16:9 display, remember?) are confirmed to get Android 10, while this year’s 7 series was updated months ago. Even the OnePlus 7T came out running Android 10 in the same month Pixels got their stable builds. Two phones that couldn’t be a part of this flattering tale are last year’s OnePlus 6 and 6T that have been stuck on Android Pie while OnePlus is struggling to put their Android 10 packages together. What’s unsettling here is the fact that the two flagships haven’t been patched for four months now, leaving many vulnerable to a multitude of security risks.
OnePlus has tried releasing the stable Android 10 update to the 6 and 6T so many times that we’ve frankly lost count. The first release came out without many rounds of beta testing, which unsurprisingly resulted in a buggy update that the company had to pull and tinker with to squash the plaguing bugs. Even the fixed version carrying the October patch, which we thought will finally see a wider availability,
has been stalled once again. Edit: the official stable Android 10 release hasn't been stalled or stopped, it's still rolling out, but gradually and slowly. This explains why many users haven't received it yet, two weeks later. Reports of bugs and instability remain, mostly for those who updated from Pie and didn't manually flash a clean Android 10 image. Even though these complaints are not universal, we're keeping an eye on them and seeing if they affect the stable release's rollout again.
This is exactly where things turn messy for OnePlus 6 and 6T users. The delay means that any newer security patch must also miss its schedule, as it’s tied to the OxygenOS build that OnePlus couldn't finish testing till date. This has left both devices still rocking the August patch, while Google is already pushing December updates. Even Samsung managed to update its budget Galaxy M models to Android 10 along with the latest security patch.
Left: OnePlus 6T with August patch (stable Android Pie). Right: OnePlus 6 with October patch (sideloaded stable Android 10)
The 6-year-old startup already follows a bi-monthly release cycle for such critical security fixes, however it did release a surprise November patch for the 7 and 7 Pro. Furthermore, OnePlus phones usually get these sparse patches nearly a month behind Pixel phones. All this virtually leaves two months’ worth of exploits unaddressed for almost all OnePlus users on a good day. Now, double that number for OnePlus 6 and 6T users who haven’t received a security patch in four months. This is particularly concerning since both phones are 2018 flagships and not some random mid-rangers that can be snubbed — all the more so when OnePlus commits to several years of security and firmware updates for its relatively small product line.
OnePlus’s approach in this situation is deplorable and has left us questioning the future of the current lineup and the devices to follow. It could’ve avoided being on the receiving end of this criticism by simply patching the existing units running stable Pie when it couldn’t see a nearing end to its Android 10 delay saga. We hope that OnePlus doesn’t take the same route as Motorola did after Lenovo's acquisition, and manages to pick up the pieces.
Oh, and by the way, happy 6th anniversary, OnePlus!
- Artem S. Tashkinov,
- Vineet Shrivastava