The Broken Promise of Android Treble

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Google surprised everyone when they announced the Android Pie (then just Android P) beta would be on more than just Google’s own phones this year. The full list was:

  • Sony Xperia XZ2
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
  • Nokia 7 Plus
  • Oppo R15 Pro
  • Vivo X21
  • OnePlus 6
  • Essential PH‑1

Not a bad list! I mean it would be nice for Samsung, Motorola, LG, or HTC to be on the list, as these are all very niche phones in the US, but it’s certainly progress.

So here were are a month after Android Pie was released, so let’s look at how many of these beta phones have been updated to Pie. After all, they were running the beta all summer, so they should be ready to go, right?

Phone Status
Sony Xperia XZ2 Coming in November 2018
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S Unknown, but alpha build leaked online
Nokia 7 Plus Coming in September 2018
Oppo R15 Pro Unknown, no announcements
Vivo X21 ”Q4 2018” so likely close to the end of the year
OnePlus 6 Q4 2018, so likely also by December
Essential PH‑1 Released same day as Pixel devices

I have 2 things to say about this:

One, this is a sad showing by these companies who were involved in the official Android Pie beta. They’ve had Pie in beta since May and they were not able to have it ready when Google released Pie to the world. A month after launch and we’re still looking at October through “someday” on most of these phones.

Two, the whole point of Android Treble, which was added in Android 8.0 in 2017, was to make it super easy for OEMs to upgrade their phones from one version of Android to another. Some Android commentators suggested this was basically a matter of swapping out the Android version and required next to zero work from the OEM. The Galaxy S 9 phones, the most popular Android line in the US, will see Pie in January at the earliest. Similarly, other major OEMs have given vague non-answers for when their phones will get the update.

For a bit of fun, check this article from 2 days after the Android Pie release, with an Android site being as optimistic as always:

In short, the Nokia 7 Plus, Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Oppo R15 Pro, OnePlus 6, and the Vivo X21 should see Android Pie arriving in the next few weeks, probably before the end of this month or in September 2018. If this materializes, it would make Android Pie one of the fastest Android operating systems to be adopted by non-Google devices, however, whether this will be true across the board remains a mystery.

One month in, none of those phones are updated, and only one of them is promised for September. Maybe this train will turn get moving pretty quick here, but we’re a month into Pie and the story seems to be playing out the same as it always does. If you are interested in timely updates to the latest Android versions, it still seems you have to go Google or bust.