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Which mobile phone brands offer the best security support?

Use the Which? phone support calculator to find out if your handset is still getting updates, and how long a new phone will last

Which mobile phone brands offer the best security support?

Smartphones can last an average of five years before they need to be replaced due to faults or issues with performance.* But software support can fall far short of this. Samsung has recently announced four years of support for key handsets, but others can expect to receive just two.

Without important security patches, hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in a phone’s software – and the risks increase the longer it is out of the update cycle. As such it’s important to not only find out if your current phone is still supported, but know how long you can expect a phone you’re looking to buy to receive updates.

Our phone support calculator can help you check for handsets you’re interested in, and read on for more about each brand’s typical support process.

You can also check our mobile phone reviews, where we clearly label out of support phones and offer estimated support periods for those still receiving updates. 

Check support for your current handset

Our phone support calculator can help you to find out if a phone is still supported, and give an estimate of how long you can expect to continue receiving security updates.

If you discover that a phone you’re using isn’t being supported, you should consider upgrading, and read our guide on using an out-of-support phone to help mitigate the risks before you do.

If you’re buying a new phone, knowing how long it’s likely to receive updates for could help you decide which model to go for.

Use the search box below to find out more about a phone you’re interested in.

Which? reviews highlight phone support status

As well as clearly indicating if a phone is no longer receiving security updates in our reviews, we also include information on estimated remaining support periods, and typical update policies. You’ll find this in the tech specs section of each review.

Brands aren’t always transparent about when support will end – this is part of the problem – so these figures should be seen as estimates.

If you’re after a phone to last for the whole two years of a standard contract, or that you can keep for a while longer on a cheap Sim-only deal, then you’ll want to opt for one with more than just a couple of years remaining. If it is out of support, we can’t recommend buying it at all, or selling it on the secondhand market.

Security update downloading

Which brands support their smartphones for longest?

Currently there are no laws on how long brands have to support their phones for, or how much they have to tell you at the point of sale. This makes it tricky to know exactly what you’re buying into when you choose a new phone.

However, through research on the information brands do share, and the length of updates for their older handsets, we’re able to assess brands on how long their typical update cycles are and how transparent they are with their customers.

Apple iPhones – five years or more

  • Security update page available: Yes
  • Typical support duration: 5-6 years
  • Clearly labels unsupported phones? No
  • Popular handsets that are no longer supported: Apple iPhone 5, Apple iPhone 4

Apple consistently leads the line when it comes to software support – the closed ecosystem of Apple products means it is able to retain greater control over devices like iPhones. Although its official update policy is five years, in practice it’s often beaten this. The Apple iPhone 6s, launched in 2015, is still on the latest iOS version.

Read our Apple iPhone reviews to find your perfect model.

Samsung mobile phones – four years (for some handsets)

  • Security update page available: Yes
  • Typical support duration: 2-4 years
  • Clearly labels unsupported phones? No
  • Popular handsets that are no longer supported: Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy A6

This year, Samsung announced that several of its handsets will receive four years’ worth of support, putting it in the lead for brands on Android. However, not all its phones are included, and some cheaper models, like the Galaxy A6, have been known to only have two years’ worth of support before dropping off the update cycle.

The full list of models covers Galaxy products launched since 2019, and includes the S-series from the S10, the Note series, and several A series models, among others.

Samsung has a wide range of models across all budgets – our Samsung mobile phone reviews will help you pick one that lasts.

Google mobile phones – three years

  • Security update page available: Yes
  • Typical support duration: 3 years
  • Clearly labels unsupported phones? Yes
  • Popular handsets that are no longer supported: Google Pixel 2, Google Pixel XL

Google doesn’t quite beat Samsung for length of update cycle, but it is does at least have a consistent, transparent policy that lets consumers know exactly how long their Pixel phone will be supported.

Read our Google Pixel phone reviews to see how long you’ll get support for on key models.

OnePlus mobile phones – three years (for most handsets)

  • Security update page available: Yes
  • Typical support duration: 2-3 years
  • Clearly labels unsupported phones? Yes
  • Popular handsets that are no longer supported: OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T

OnePlus’ official update policy is three years, and in practice it’s been known to beat this (the OnePlus 5, launched in June 2017, received an update in December 2020). However, two of its cheaper phones launched in 2020, the OnePlus Nord N10 5G and the OnePlus N100, have only been guaranteed two years’ worth of updates. Unfortunately, it’s an example of how brands can change their support policies when they choose.

Our reviews of OnePlus phones will help you pick a top performer that goes the distance.

Motorola mobile phones – two years (for most handsets)

  • Security update page available: Yes
  • Typical support duration: 2-3 years
  • Clearly labels unsupported phones? Yes
  • Popular handsets that are no longer supported: Motorola Moto G6, Motorola Moto E5

Motorola clearly shows when each of its phones will run out of support, making it one of the few brands to make this crucial information accessible to its customers. Two years of updates from launch doesn’t give you a lot of use out of your phone though, particularly if you want to get it on a two-year contract. A selection of its handsets, like the Motorola One Action, are part of the Android One programme, and will be supported for three years.

Find out which of Motorola’s budget-friendly phones impressed with our Motorola phone reviews.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9

Xiaomi mobile phones – two years

  • Security update page available: Yes
  • Typical support duration: 2 years
  • Clearly labels unsupported phones? No
  • Popular handsets that are no longer supported: Xiaomi Redmi 6A, Xiaomi Mi 8

It’s not hard to see why Xiaomi phones are popular, with their impressive specs and features, and some of the cheapest 5G handsets you can buy. However, it’s probably not a brand to invest in if you want a phone that will last. It’s hard to clearly see which phones aren’t supported, the typical update cycle is only two years, and ‘the initial two year timeframe is subject to change depending on the regions and models’.

See our Xiaomi mobile phone reviews to find out if any can rival pricier rivals.

Which? calls for more transparency around security updates

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has proposed new laws for the security of smart devices. If passed, brands would be required to state at the point of sale how long you can expect your phone to receive security updates. 

Which? is calling for the government to push ahead with this planned legislation, and back it up with strong enforcement. But while these measures will bring some level of transparency for consumers, we think manufacturers could do more to lengthen the security lifespans of devices and help to protect the environment from unnecessary e-waste. 

At a minimum, we want manufacturers to provide:

  • At least five years of software and security updates across all their devices from point of release, regardless of popularity or cost.
  • In-device notifications about when update support will cease, so that consumers can make more informed decisions about next steps.
  • More regular update support from when manufacturers are first made aware of patches, particularly for those using the Android operating system. 
  • Greater clarity about actual updates policies at time of purchase, and on a publicly available website, so consumers are fully informed about update provision before they buy.

If manufacturers fail to provide adequate and transparent update support then the government will need to intervene in the interests of smartphone users.

*Survey of 15,283 adults – members of the Which? Connect panel and members of the public – conducted in July 2020.

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