I’ve been using android since 2010 and it has been a great 10 years so far. My journey started with Samsung Galaxy Mini way back in the summer of 2010. It was a small phone by today’s standards but quite large for the time. I moved on to other phones as time progressed with Nexus 5 being the pinnacle of my smartphone ownership.
I got Nexus 5 in 2013, it was way ahead of its time with very small bezels and the latest Android to run on. It was very fast and the stock android experience with fastest updates meant it was the first phone in the market to get the latest android version. As it got older, however, the poor hardware and battery life became apparent. The phone started giving away from the border with the battery not even lasting half a day.
With an engineering background and working at an electronics manufacturing startup, I realised the true cost of a device – which was way lower than what I originally had in mind. A phone that costs Rs 50,000 probably costs Rs 7,000 or even less to make. A very large chunk of that money goes into advertising and creating a brand image which then translates into good sales.
It means the higher you go in the price spectrum, the larger the margin is for the companies. You actually get less for paying more.
The year was 2015, and android had become usable even in mid-range phones. I decided mid-range phones offer better bang for your buck and do almost 99% of what a flagship could do. I switched onto the Redmi Note 3. That phone changed the whole dynamic of the smartphone market in the world. It was a budget phone with better battery life than flagships and very usable for day to day tasks. No wonder it was a huge success and smartphone companies realised mid-range is where a large chunk of money is to be made
I used that phone for 3 years when it was time to switch to another smartphone since I had broken the charging point along with the antenna at the bottom of the phone. Having seen what a flagship (Nexus 5) and a mid-range phone (Note 3) could do for respective prices, I was no way going for another Rs 50,000 phone.
I had enjoyed a very good battery life in Redmi Note 3 and I could never live with a phone with mediocre battery life after that. The only thing that I missed from my Nexus 5 was a pure android experience. I have never been a fan of what other companies do with their UI, making it a copy of Apple or cartooning it to death.
I zeroed in on Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2, a phone with solid battery life along with Stock android. The android update cycle which was nowhere as close to that of Apple’s had become somewhat decent with phones getting the new android version after 6 months of release. Since Zenfone Max Pro M2 has stock android I thought getting the latest version wouldn’t be a problem for Asus.
This is July 7th 2020 and having android 10 released in September of 2019, Zenfone Pro series has still not got the new update. To rub salt into the wounds, other companies such as Redmi, Xiaomi, Realme and Samsung, all have sent updates to their respective phones. The fact that those companies have to develop and test the new version with their respective Skins on top makes it even bigger feat for them and for Asus a bigger failure!
Asus forum is filled with user begging the company for news on Zenfone Max Pro M2 Android 10 update but there is no response from the developers. While the beta testing is ongoing for Zenfone Max Pro M2 as well as Max Pro M1, there is no confirmed date when the stable version will be released. For a stock android version, this seems rather a very long time and most users seem to be angry at the company for not even replying. A single notice on when the user could get the new version would go far in terms of creating a good relationship between users and the company.
Android ecosystem functions differently than that of Apple’s. Here you pay as much for the latest software as you do for the hardware. Pixel range of phones is the prime example of this. Google sells phones with not-the-best hardware paired with the latest version of android for iPhone-money. It charges users a premium for using stock android.
With Asus Zenfone Max series most early adopters are ready to jump ship given how bad company’s update cycle has been. I for one don’t mind waiting for the newest version as long as it’s stable but getting it as soon as possible is always better since it refreshes the phone and increases its life.
For my next smartphone, I will surely look into the update cycle of companies where Asus seems the poorest. I would also consider a non-Chinese smartphone. The best bet at the moment seems to be the One Plus Nord, if it’s launched below Rs 25,000. Anything beyond that is a bad financial decision IMO in a time like this.
For now, there is no news on when the Zenfone Max Pro series or Zenfone Max M2 will get the Android 10 version. It could be next month or next year, who knows!