Which brands of mobile phones offer the best security support? – Who? New

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Smartphones can last an average of five years before needing to be replaced due to failures or performance issues. * But software support can be way below that. Samsung recently announced four years of key handset support, but others can expect to receive just two.

Without significant security fixes, hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in a phone’s software – and the risks increase as the update cycle grows. As such, it’s important not only to know if your current phone is still supported, but also how long you can expect a phone you’re looking to buy to receive updates.

Our phone support calculator can help you find the phones you’re interested in and read on to learn more about each brand’s typical support process.

You can also check out our cell phone reviews, where we clearly label non-support phones and offer estimated support periods for those who are still receiving updates.

Video: Is your phone in danger?

Learn more about mobile phones and the importance of security updates.

Check support for your current handset

Our phone support calculator can help you determine if a phone is still supported and give you an estimate of how long you can expect to continue to receive security updates.

If you find out that a phone you’re using isn’t supported, you should consider upgrading and read our guide on using an out of support phone to help mitigate your risk before you do so.

If you’re buying a new phone, knowing how long it’s likely to receive updates could help you decide which model to choose.

Use the search box below to find out more about a phone that interests you.

Who? notices highlight the status of phone support

As well as making it clear if a phone is no longer receiving security updates in our reviews, we also include information about estimated remaining support periods and typical update policies. You’ll find it in the tech specs section of each review.

Brands aren’t always transparent about end of support – that’s part of the problem – so these numbers should be taken as estimates.

If you’re looking for a phone that lasts for the full two years of a standard contract, or that you can keep a bit longer with a cheap Sim deal, then you’ll want to go for one with more than just a few years left. If it is no longer supported, we cannot recommend that you buy it or sell it in the used market.

Downloading Security Updates

Which brands support their smartphones the longest?

Right now, there is no law on how long brands have to support their phones or how long they have to tell you at the point of sale. This makes it difficult to know exactly what you are buying when choosing a new phone.

However, through research into the information brands share and the duration of updates to their old handsets, we are able to assess brands on the length of their typical update cycles and their transparency with their clients.

Apple iPhones – five years or older

  • Security update page available: Yes
  • Typical duration of care: 5-6 years
  • Clearly label unsupported phones? No
  • Popular handsets that are no longer supported: Apple iPhone 5, Apple iPhone 4

Apple still leads the way when it comes to software support – the closed ecosystem of Apple products means it is able to maintain better control over devices like iPhones. Although its official update policy is five years, in practice it is often outdated. The Apple iPhone 6s, launched in 2015, is still on the latest iOS version.

Read our Apple iPhone reviews to find your perfect model.

Samsung mobile phones – four years (for some phones)

  • Security update page available: Yes
  • Typical duration of assistance: 2 to 4 years
  • Clearly label unsupported phones? No
  • Popular handsets that are no longer supported: Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy A6

This year, Samsung announced that several of its phones will get four years of support, which puts it at the top of the Android brands. However, not all of its phones are included, and some cheaper models, like the Galaxy A6, are known to only have two years of support before dropping the update cycle.

The complete list of models covers Galaxy products launched since 2019 and includes the S series of the S10, the Note series and several models of the A series, among others.

Samsung has a wide range of models to suit all budgets – our Samsung mobile phone reviews will help you choose one that lasts.

Google mobile phones – three years

  • Security update page available: Yes
  • Typical duration of assistance: 3 years
  • Clearly label unsupported phones? Yes
  • Popular phones that are no longer supported: Google Pixel 2, Google Pixel XL

Google isn’t quite beating Samsung for the duration of the update cycle, but it at least has a consistent and transparent policy that lets consumers know exactly how long their Pixel phone will be supported.

Read our Google Pixel phone reviews to see how long you’ll get support on key models.

OnePlus mobile phones – three years (for most handsets)

  • Security update page available: Yes
  • Typical duration of assistance: 2-3 years
  • Clearly label unsupported phones? Yes
  • Popular handsets that are no longer supported: OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T

OnePlus’ official update policy is three years, and in practice it is known to beat it (the OnePlus 5, launched in June 2017, received an update in December 2020). However, two of its cheaper phones launched in 2020, the OnePlus Nord N10 5G and the OnePlus N100, have only been guaranteed two years of updates. Unfortunately, this is an example of how brands can change their support policies whenever they want.

Our OnePlus phone reviews will help you choose a performance phone that goes the distance.

Motorola mobile phones – two years (for most handsets)

  • Security update page available: Yes
  • Typical duration of assistance: 2-3 years
  • Clearly label unsupported phones? Yes
  • Popular phones that are no longer supported: Motorola Moto G6, Motorola Moto E5

Motorola makes it clear when each of its phones will run out of support, making it one of the few brands to make this crucial information accessible to its customers. However, two years of updates from launch doesn’t get you much use of your phone, especially if you want to get it on a two-year contract. A selection of its terminals, such as the Motorola One Action, are part of the Android One program and will be supported for three years.

Find out which of Motorola’s budget phones were impressed with our Motorola phone reviews.

Xiaomi redmi note 9

Xiaomi mobile phones – two years

  • Security update page available: Yes
  • Typical duration of assistance: 2 years
  • Clearly label unsupported phones? No
  • Popular handsets that are no longer supported: Xiaomi Redmi 6A, Xiaomi Mi 8

It’s not hard to see why Xiaomi phones are popular, with their impressive specs and features, and some of the cheapest 5G handsets you can buy. However, it’s probably not a brand to invest in if you want a phone that will last. It’s hard to see clearly which phones aren’t supported, the typical update cycle is only two years, and “The initial period of two years is subject to change depending on regions and models”.

Check out our Xiaomi cell phone reviews to see if any can compete with more expensive rivals.

Who? calls for more transparency around security updates

The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports has proposed new laws for the security of smart devices. If adopted, brands would be required to tell the point of sale how long you can expect your phone to receive security updates.

Who? calls on the government to move forward with this bill and support it with strict enforcement. But while these measures will provide some level of transparency for consumers, we believe manufacturers could do more to extend the life of devices in terms of safety and help protect the environment from unnecessary e-waste.

At a minimum, we want manufacturers to provide:

  • At least five years of software and security updates to all their devices from point of exit, regardless of popularity or cost.
  • In-device notifications showing when update support will end, so consumers can make more informed decisions about next steps.
  • More regular support for updates as soon as manufacturers are first notified of fixes, especially for those using the Android operating system.
  • Greater clarity on actual update policies at the time of purchase and on a publicly accessible website, so consumers are fully informed of the update before purchasing.

If manufacturers do not provide adequate and transparent update support, the government will have to step in for the benefit of smartphone users.

* Survey conducted among 15,283 adults – members of Which? Panel Connect and members of the public – completed in July 2020.


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