Android Nougat winners and losers: Will your phone get an upgrade to Google's latest OS?

Bad news for owners of certain older Nexus handsets, some of which will miss out on the upgrade to Android 7.0 Nougat.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The Nexus 5 is one of the older handsets that won't get upgraded to Nougat.

Image: James Martin/CNET

The days of the Nexus 5 and 2013 Nexus 7 receiving the latest version of Android are officially over with the release of Android 7.0 Nougat.

Android 7.0 will be rolling out over the next few weeks to the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player, Pixel C, and General Mobile 4G (Android One). The LG-made Nexus 5, which launched with Android 5.0 Lollipop in late 2013, and the Asus-made 2013 Nexus 7, which launched with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean in July 2013, will be parked for good at Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

HTC has also announced which handsets will run Nougat, singling out the HTC 10, HTC One A9, and HTC One M9. The phone maker will announce additional devices that will receive the update later this year, after Google ships Android N to manufacturers.

Headline features of Nougat include multi-window support, direct reply, Doze power management, and a new update system that cuts the notoriously slow process of optimizing apps after a system update. And, of course, more emoji.

Google guarantees Android version updates for Nexus devices for at least two years from when the device began selling on the Google Store. The cut-off date for the Nexus 5 was October 2015, while the Nexus 7 2013 model was July 2015. The Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 will reach the cut-off date next October.

While the two 2013 Nexus devices won't see further version updates, they are still within the support window for Google's monthly security patches, which spans three years from when the device was first available, or 18 months from when the Google Store last sold the device, whichever is longer. That should mean patches will arrive through to at least October for the Nexus 5.

If Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 owners want to get Nougat on their device, one option would be install an aftermarket firmware as they become available in coming months. Alternatively, it may be worth waiting until the two rumored HTC-made Nexus phones arrive, or LG's V20.

Owners of supported Nexus devices who don't want to wait for up to two weeks for Nougat to arrive may be able to fast forward the process by enrolling the device with Google's developer preview beta program, which has reportedly already started receiving Nougat in an over-the-air update.

On Monday, Google also revealed that it will keep the developer preview beta program for Nougat up and running after the OS's public release, with Nougat's first maintenance update to ship soon as part of the preview. Google suggests that from now on it may release updates on a quarterly basis for devices in the beta program.

"We're moving Nougat into a new regular maintenance schedule over the coming quarters. In fact, we've already started work on the first Nougat maintenance release, that will bring continued refinements and polish, and we're planning to bring that to you this fall as a developer preview," Google said on the Android developer blog.

Now begins the wait for Android 7.0 to first show up on Google's Android distribution dashboard and then filter through to users, as handset makers gradually update existing devices and release new ones. As of the week ending August 1, Android 6.0 Marshmallow reached 15.2 percent of all Android devices with the Google Play app installed. Android 5.0 Lollipop's share was 35 percent, followed by KitKat at 29 percent, and Jelly Bean with nearly 17 percent.

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