Android Intelligence Analysis

LG's revolutionary upgrade letdown

Congratulations, LG! You set out to make your mark on the realm of Android upgrades — and one year later, you've certainly earned the right to recognition.

LG Upgrade Letdown
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Ladies and gentlemen, the results are in — and I'm delighted to report that LG has officially revolutionized Android upgrades as we know them.

Hang on — lemme clarify: By "revolutionized Android upgrades," I mean that the company has brought a new level of laughable absurdity to an already absurd area.

It's now been just over a year, y'see, since LG made a big show of unveiling its "Global Software Upgrade Center" — the industry's "first such facility aimed at providing customers worldwide with faster, timelier smartphone operating system and software updates," as the company put it in a carefully worded press release designed to solicit positive attention without requiring any real action.

"Aligning after-sales support with customers' needs is a top priority at LG," the company's CEO was quoted as saying. "Stable and consistent upgrades will demonstrate to our customers that LG smartphones have long and reliable lifespans."

"Also, this is opposite day — and everything I'm saying is clearly not what we intend to do," he apparently forgot to add whilst cackling with gleeful abandon.

Look, the fact that LG was feeding us a bunch of shameless hooey should be surprising to approximately no one. A certain extraordinarily handsome Android-focused columnist (who shall remain unnamed, as he is also incredibly humble) called out the nonsensical-seeming nature of the company's words moments after they were uttered last April — and when we revisited the subject last November, the prophecy was holding true as could be.

Now, here we are, a full year after the launch of the industry-changing "Software Upgrade Center" (a term that, for the record, should always be spoken with heavily sarcastic air-quotes around it), and where do things stand? Well, let's see — lemme crunch a couple numbers, perform a few complex calculations, feed some stacks of detailed data into my Advanced Rubbish Detection Machine™...

Ah, right — here we go: In the 371 days since the launch of LG's "Software Upgrade Center," LG has accomplished precisely jack squat when it comes to providing its customers with even remotely reasonable Android software support.

Here's what the company has done:

  • Forty days after announcing its "Software Upgrade Center" last April, LG delivered its first Android 8.0 Oreo upgrade in the U.S. — to its then-current flagship, the G6, on Verizon. That means the highest-priority customers received said software over nine months after its release. Huzzah!
  • Owners of the company's then-previous-gen flagship, the G5, then waited another half-year from that point to see Oreo arrive on their phones. The first U.S. G5 Oreo upgrade showed up in late September — a ridiculous 13 months after Oreo's release and a month and a half after the newer Android 9 Pie software had become available. Spectacular!
  • Last October, 74 days after Pie's launch, LG released the V40 — a device increasingly being positioned as a secondary, alternate flagship to the main G-branded product line. The V40 shipped with the outdated Android 8.1 Oreo software, accompanied by a vague promise for a Pie upgrade sometime "soon." It has now been six months since that phone's U.S. release, and we've seen no signs of Pie or explanations for its ongoing absence. Dynamite!

We're now 255 days past Pie's release, in fact — a whopping eight-and-a-half months — and LG has yet to provide a single forkin' Pie upgrade to any of its Android devices (with the exception of an Android One model, which doesn't run LG software, is part of a contract-based agreement with Google that requires reasonably timely upgrades and includes some level of assistance from Google to ensure those happen, and is anything but a typical "LG phone"). Top-notch!

I mean, c'mon: Is there any doubt remaining that the "Software Upgrade Center" was an empty publicity stunt and a slap in the face to anyone who, for reasons I can't entirely comprehend, continues to purchase LG Android devices?

This, my friends, is what LG is: a company that does not give the tiniest shred of care about its customers once that initial phone payment has been forked over and a company that loves to pull laughable marketing maneuvers with no meaningful substance behind 'em. This is far from the first time it's attempted to trick unsuspecting media outlets into giving it unwarranted positive publicity in the area of Android upgrades, and it's far overdue for all of us to stop falling for such shenanigans and to start calling LG out not for its words but for its actions — which, both in terms of the grand and empty gestures and the post-sales support failures, are remarkably consistent.

(And yes, for the zillionth time: Android upgrades absolutely do matterespecially for business users — whether you care about the surface-level features and interface changes or not.)

But hey, on the plus side, we've gotta give credit where credit's due: When it comes to over-the-top marketing stunts that bring insulting new lows to the area of Android upgrades, LG is most certainly in a league of its own. Go, team!

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[Android Intelligence videos at Computerworld]

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