Why older phones with good enough hardware can’t be updated to latest Android?


We have reached a point in which huge steps in hardware improvements is not a thing, hence my question. Or maybe they can but companies want us to pay money to get the latest OS and new features?

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After some length of time, the manufacturer of the device decided to stop building updated system images for that model of phone.

This sometimes can be caused by a chipset vendor also refusing to support older hardware, but also often can just be an issue that a manufacturer decides the device is beyond it’s design life and stops support after so many years.

The people/manufacturers who would need to write new drivers for older hardware have almost no incentive to do so.

The android System in general is developed by Google. However to make it run on a specific smartphone, the manufacturers still have to adapt it to the hardware by adding drivers, configuring the system, etc.
And many vendors do some larger changes to the android base system (changing user Interfaces, and so on), which make producing a new Android version for a smartphone even more difficult (meaning expensive).

And a company will not take these costs for developing and testing a new version for an older Smartphone which have no active sells anymore, unless it matches some kind of business plan (e.g. if you advertise yourself as a phone vendor with long support).

For many smartphones there are community driven firmwares, where other people do the work of adapting a new Android version to a specific hardware instead of the manufacturer. However you need to find someone willing to do that (and publish it in the internet), and even then some requirements needs to be fulfilled (you must be able to run a system which is not developed by the phone manufacturer and the manufacturer must have released some certain info about their hard and software).

The manufacturer has no incentive to update the OS, it’s not just a matter of loading the new version of Android. After the phone has lived it’s normal course of life, the software just gets abandoned, if they even pushed out any updates at all.

Sometimes the enthusiast community steps in. Either to extend the life of phones, to flex that a project can be done, or for other purposes. Like so https://www.xda-developers.com/samsung-galaxy-s-ii-android-12-custom-rom/

The hardware is not good enough. It’s easy to forget that a phone that runs well when the entire internet is filled with 0.3 megapixel pictures simply can’t load 4k or 8k UHD video. Every year, media is becoming higher quality on the internet, and a phone from 5 years ago will have trouble keeping up with the latest higher quality instagram photos and videos. There is nothing wrong with the original hardware, but people are not willing to give up a higher quality internet.