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It’s funny how much a popular narrative can differ from reality once you start bringing cold, hard data into the equation.

Over the past couple years, Samsung has worked hard to improve its reputation as a reliable provider of software updates in the Android arena. And to be sure, it’s made some meaningful strides along the way.

But when you go beyond the broad impressions and objectively measure the company’s commitment to timely Android operating system rollouts — well, the story gets a teensy bit more complicated.

That’s precisely why I started doing these Android Upgrade Report Cards way back in the platform’s prehistoric ages. From the get-go, we’ve seen some wild variance in how well different device-makers support their products after you’ve finished paying for ’em — and as an average phone-owner, there’s no great way to know what’s gonna happens six months or a year after you shell out your dollars for a top-of-the-line phone.

It’s in part just par for the course with the nature of Android as a platform. The operating system is open source, and that means each device-maker can modify it how they want (for better or sometimes for worse). And consequently, that means the responsibility falls on each company’s shoulders to process every new incoming Android version and get it out to its customers.

[Get level-headed knowledge in your inbox with my free Android Intelligence newsletter. Three things to know and three things to try every Friday — straight from me to you.]

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