OnePlus' new Nord-series phones aren't just cut-down midrangers, they're also getting a cut-down update policy. OnePlus is backtracking on the schedule set in 2018, guaranteeing just one Android version update for both the N10 5G and N100. That means the two new phones will only get the already-released Android 11-based OxygenOS 11, paired with only two years of security updates.
"The Nord N10 5G and N100 will receive one major Android update and a total of two years of security updates. The plan for these two devices aligns with industry standards for smartphones in more affordable price ranges. As always, we will continue listening to feedback from our users and looking for ways to improve the software experience for all OnePlus devices."
It's worth stressing that the OnePlus N10 5G launches with Android 10-based OxygenOS 10.5, and we have explicitly confirmed that this "one major Android update" promised is to Android 11. That's the version of Android the OnePlus 8T, released before the N10 5G, shipped with. To make this perfectly clear: OnePlus has only committed to updating the N10 5G to the current version of OxygenOS which its other recent phones already have, upgrading it after it launched one release behind. For some perspective, the "original" Nord, which costs only €50 more, gets the original two-year version commitment and three years of security updates.
Back in 2018, OnePlus promised that it would provide a similar level of support for all its then-supported phones — two years of Android version upgrades, and an additional year of security patches, totaling three years of updates, to be delivered every two months — implying that this maintenance schedule was going to be its standard going forward. While it wasn't an explicit "promise" when it came to every future phone, it was a generally accepted expectation and one that hasn't panned out with these new phones — though that "every two months" promise hasn't always worked out either.
For perspective: Samsung promises three years of updates for its flagship phones, matching Google's Pixel commitment. Most OEMs offer somewhere between two and three years of software support between version upgrades and security patches, though the mid-range market is less consistent. TCL promised one version upgrade for the 10L to Android 11 and two years of security patches, while the Moto E 2020 isn't guaranteed even that much.
In its coverage of this news, Android Central called OnePlus "overextended," and that's accurate given the problems the company has had maintaining its update schedule, especially when it comes to older phones. The OnePlus 6 series had huge issues with its Android 10 update, and those every-two-months security patches have also been problematic. That's further ignoring the growing general instability we've noticed in the company's OxygenOS software.
The new post-Carl-Pei OnePlus is turning into a very different kind of company, and I can't say I like it.