Evaluating Budget Smartphone Brands for Software Support in South Africa

The availability of affordable smartphones from various brands has increased competition in South Africa's budget segment. However, when it comes to long-term software support, not all brands are equal. This article examines the importance of software support and security in budget smartphones and presents five brands that offer reliable software updates and multiple budget-friendly models.

The Significance of Software Support: Choosing a smartphone brand that provides consistent software updates and security patches is crucial for a satisfying long-term user experience. While Apple stands out for its extended software support for iPhones, Android-based manufacturers differ in their approach to feature updates and security policies.

Criteria for Evaluating Budget Smartphone Brands: To assist buyers in their search for affordable smartphones, MyBroadband has established criteria for selecting brands that offer reliable software support. These criteria include the availability of at least two models released since the beginning of 2022, retailing below R5,000 when new, a minimum of two years of security updates from the phone's initial release, and at least one annual Android version upgrade since its launch.

Prominent Budget Smartphone Brands in South Africa: Among the budget smartphone brands meeting the aforementioned criteria are Blackview, Hisense, Mobicel, Poco, Tecno, Ulefone, and Vivo. While these brands offer multiple budget-friendly smartphone models, they have not provided explicit commitments regarding Android feature updates and security upgrades specifically for devices in South Africa.

In continuation of our analysis of budget smartphone brands in South Africa, this article explores the software support and security policies of five additional brands: Honor, Oppo, Nokia, Samsung, and Xiaomi. These brands offer affordable smartphone models and have varying levels of commitment to software updates and security patches.


Honor, originally a sub-brand of Huawei, became an independent company in November 2020. While its hardware specifications are similar to Huawei, Honor has its own unique designs. Honor's smartphones run on the MagicOS operating system, which fully supports Google Mobile Services (GMS) and the Google Play Store. Honor provides two years of Android upgrades and two years of security patches for its high-end smartphones, ensuring a decent level of software support.


Oppo, known for selling around 10% of the world's smartphones in 2022, is associated with Chinese tech giant BBK Electronics. Oppo operates in over 50 countries, including South Africa. The company's software policy varies depending on the pricing segment. Oppo's flagship smartphones receive up to four Android upgrades and five years of security patches. However, budget smartphones in the Oppo A series only get one Android upgrade and three years of security fixes.


Nokia-branded smartphones are now manufactured by HMD Global, a separate company headquartered in Finland. Nokia phones are known for providing a clean version of the Android operating system. Nokia has the ability to roll out security and feature updates without requiring permission from mobile network operators, ensuring quicker updates. The most affordable Nokia smartphone in South Africa is the C21, which receives security updates until June 2024 but does not receive Android upgrades.


As the world's largest smartphone manufacturer, Samsung competes strongly in all pricing segments, including the budget category. Samsung offers the broadest range of budget models among the brands meeting the criteria. The company provides a generous software support policy, with all Samsung Galaxy smartphones guaranteed to receive at least four major Android upgrades and five years of security patches. This commitment applies to all of Samsung's smartphones, making it an excellent choice for budget-conscious consumers seeking long-term software support.


Xiaomi, the world's third-largest smartphone brand, has gained popularity outside of China in recent years, particularly in the budget and mid-range segments. While Xiaomi does not strictly commit to providing Android upgrades for a specific period, it delivers quarterly or monthly security updates for its Redmi range, which includes the most affordable Xiaomi smartphone in South Africa, the Redmi 10A.

When considering budget smartphone brands in South Africa, it is important to evaluate their software support and security policies. Honor offers a decent level of support with two years of Android upgrades and security patches for its high-end smartphones. Oppo provides varying levels of support depending on the pricing segment, while Nokia focuses on delivering clean software with regular security updates. Samsung stands out with its Apple-like policy of providing at least four Android upgrades and five years of security patches for all its Galaxy smartphones. Xiaomi, although not committing to specific Android upgrades, delivers frequent security updates for its Redmi range. Consider these factors when choosing a budget smartphone brand that suits your long-term software support needs.