ASUS ROG Phone Unlikely to Get Android Pie Update
ASUS' first ROG phone was one of the first devices released under the 'gaming smartphone' monicker back in 2017. As expected out of a gaming smartphone, it packed the best hardware of the time along with a 90Hz panel. Despite its older hardware, it is still a powerful phone and can easily run any modern-day mobile game with relative ease. For all its hardware prowess, the ROG Phone still runs Android Oreo, a two-year-old version of the operating system. It launched with Android Nougat and has since received only one major software upgrade.
ASUS ROG Phone unlikely to receive Android Pie; will still get security updates
ASUS' official ZenTalk forums have been littered with threads asking about the Android Pie update for the ROG Phone starting as early as February this year. As seen in the screenshot above, the moderator promises that a software upgrade update will come in Q3 2019. We're thee days before the end of Q3 2019 and there seems to be no update in sight.
A post further down in the thread confirms out speculation that the update is delayed indefinitely. In another thread, a moderator promises that the ROG Phone will continue to remain security updates. That is not very reassuring, considering that ROG Phone users had to wait over three months for the June security update. At the very least, ASUS lets you unlock the bootloader on the ROG Phone, so you can still sideload a third-party Android Pie-based ROM on to it.
ASUS' reluctance to address the issue is part of a much bigger problem
The Android platform, for all its benefits, still suffers from a major fragmentation problem. Only a fraction of devices run the latest version of the software, and that isn't expected to change anytime soon. Initiatives such as Project Treble and Project Mainline will help address the issue, but that only a part of the solution. Over the years, Google has made it a lot easier for OEMs to roll out timely software updates to their devices. However, the company has not done enough to punish errant OEMs, who simply can or will not provide said upgrades.
ASUS's overall track record when it comes to software updates has been on par with the competition. The company makes it a point to roll out updates even for low-cost and mid-range devices, as demonstrated by their Android Pie rollout. It is rather puzzling why ASUS decided to give the ROG Phone--a flagship device--such step-motherly treatment. Surely, a near $1,000 smartphone should be the first in line to get major software upgrades and security patches.
Instances such as this one set a bad precedent for anyone in the market for ASUS' gaming smartphones. One would be better off purchasing similarly-specced devices from competitors such as Razer, as they have a far better (but not excellent by any means) record of providing updates for their devices. But, given ASUS's commitment to software updates, I'm still a little optimistic and hope that the company proves us wrong by deploying the software in the coming weeks.