If you’ve ever eagerly awaited the next major version of Android on your phone, then you know how long it can take for an update to materialize. While Google’s Pixel range tends to get the latest version of Android first, phones from other manufacturers take anywhere from a few weeks to months to get an update out. It’s not laziness or unwillingness to hand the code out on Google’s part — there’s just an awful lot to do. To highlight that process, HMD Global — the company with the exclusive rights to make Nokia’s phones — has released an infographic detailing each step along the way to a new update for your phone.
Every Android update starts life with Google, but it doesn’t go straight to phone manufacturers once it’s done — instead, it’s sent off to chipset manufacturers like Qualcomm and Mediatek, who use the code to make new drivers for their chipsets. Chipset vendors also decide which chips will receive the new Android update, meaning they get to dictate which phones will be updated and which will not. They also decide the chips that get priority — which explains why certain phones are updated before others.
Once the chip manufacturers have had their fill, the update build for each chip is passed down to manufacturers. If a manufacturer — like Samsung — has its own unique Android UI, it’s here they insert it into the new Android update. If the manufacturer doesn’t include many of its own additions, like HMD Global, then this stage can be completed much faster.
The update is then tested in labs by engineers and across the world in private betas. If the build passes these tests, then it’s allowed out to public beta tests. If not, it’s sent back to to HMD Global’s development team to iron out the bugs.
The final stage is something HMD Global refers to as “garnishing and final touches.” Conformance standards for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other tech is tested, and quality assurance checks over the update to make sure it’s up to standard. Once QA is happy, the build is then passed on to individual operators to test on their networks and regions. When that final hurdle is passed, it’s only then that the gold stamp of approval is given, and the final build is sent out to Joe Public.
HMD Global was clearly happy to release this breakdown of its work process — and there’s probably a reason for that. According to AOSMark — who rates manufacturers based on how often they update their phones — Nokia/HMD Global comes in a very respectable third place, behind only Google and OnePlus.