Confirmation of Android 11 on the Nokia 8.3 reveals that Android One isn’t living up to its promise

(Pocket-lint) – HMD Global confirmed that Android 11 was rolling out to the Nokia 8.3 on 2 February 2021, some 5 months after Android 11 saw its original release in September 2020.

“Counterpoint Research has recognised us for providing the fastest deployments for the past two consecutive Android OS upgrades regardless of price on a portfolio level, and we will continue our commitment for even our most affordable Android 11-ready handsets,” says Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer and VP of North America.

Counterpoint Research may have said those things, and HMD Global has previously shown that it can move fast to update devices, but for Android 11, things have been moving rather slower.

Sitting here writing this with a Nokia 8.3 5G in one hand and the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE in the other, it doesn’t look like these Nokia phones are delivering on the promise that Android One set out to achieve.

The 8.3 5G is the first Nokia phone to get Android 11 – and as Sarvikas also says: “The Nokia 8.3 5G has opened the flood gates for our Android 11 upgrade journey with many more of our smartphones soon to join the ranks.”

But Nokia is lagging behind the likes of Samsung – known for its slow updates – which has already updated a number of devices from 2020, including that Galaxy S20 FE, over a month ago.

Android One was designed as a way of allowing phone manufacturers to offer a pure Android experience outside the Nexus and subsequent Pixel programmes of Google-developed hardware. Nokia’s mantra – so often repeated at product launches – is “pure, secure and always up to date”.

While that’s been true over the past couple of Android versions, that seems to have slipped for Android 11. For HMD Global, it’s an awkward time for that slip when other Android phone makers have increased the pace of updates. You only have to glance at our Android 11 update list and you’ll see how many manufacturers have upped their game – OnePlus, Oppo, Samsung, Sony.

This is the list that Nokia was once at the head of.

We still think that Android One has value – it is a great alternative to Pixel devices – especially for those who want something affordable where Nokia has some really attractive devices. But with Pixels getting cheaper and having received the update back in September 2020, the window in which Nokia operates is perhaps narrowing.

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For those who bought into the “always up to date” side of Nokia’s tagline, it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed. If Samsung can adapt and update its heavily modified version of Android in a timely manner, surely HMD Global can update its unfettered version faster. Much will depend on the speed from here moving forward. There’s still time for Nokia to update its portfolio and do so faster than its rivals, even if it is off to a slow start.

Writing by Chris Hall.

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