It’s official: the LG V20 is going to be the first new phone to ship with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, beating out the 2016 Nexus phones. The V20 will be officially unveiled by LG on September 6, whereas the 2016 Nexus phones might still launch in the traditional October timeframe. In fact, this might be the reason Google decided to release the first non-beta Nougat OTAs to the Nexus 6P and 5X (among other devices) without announcing Marlin or Sailfish. Google can now say at least some of their Nexus phones were still the first to get the latest version of Android.
That said, Nexus fans might not like what I have to say here, but I view it as a positive development that LG’s skinned V20 flagship is going to beat the 2016 Nexus lineup out of the gate with Android’s latest and greatest. When the Moto X got KitKat before the Nexus 4 a few years ago Nexus fans were up in arms, but consumers overall benefitted as other OEMs were motivated to push out Android updates sooner lest they continue to be outshined by Moto.
That’s what I think we’ll see again – even more so now that it’s LG rather than a subsidiary of Google (Motorola Mobility was owned by Google when the first Moto X was released in 2013) being the first to ship a new phone with the latest Android version. LG is not only completely independent of Google, but it’s a much larger seller of Android phones than Moto was, and they’re a much more bitter rival of Samsung, the largest Android manufacturer in the world. Despite other OEMs being motivated to follow Motorola’s example with quick Android updates, Samsung is still one of the last to push such updates out to their devices. But now a major Android manufacturer in their own city (LG and Samsung are both headquartered in Seoul, South Korea) is beating Google/HTC to the Nougat party.
This doesn’t mean that Samsung will suddenly feel threatened with extinction now that the V20 will be the first new phone to ship with Nougat. Nevertheless, it’ll almost certainly get their attention, and 2017 just might be the year that Samsung finally updates their flagships to Android’s latest and greatest in a timely manner. If the world’s largest manufacturer of Android devices is motivated to speed up their updates so their crosstown rivals won’t keep showing them up, still more OEMs might then be motivated to follow Samsung’s lead. The end result will surely benefit the entire Android ecosystem, including Google themselves.
So does Google letting LG be the first to ship an Android Nougat phone ruffle the feathers of Nexus fans? We’ll get over it (myself included, as I type this article out on my Nexus 6P). Actually, I’m looking forward to checking out the V20 and seeing what LG’s take on Nougat looks like (and sounds like with that 32-bit DAC). My next question is: will LG now update the V10, the G5 and the G4 to Nougat next month? Or was the rush to release the Nougat-infused V20 before the 2016 Nexus lineup just a publicity stunt?