The road to Android 6.0 is a slow one, but at least OnePlus has committed to a quasi-definitive update schedule

Want Google Inc. (GOOG) Android 6.0 "Marshmallow" on your OnePlus device? Well, the Chinese OEM has now shared its update plans.

According to a recent announcement made on its forums, OnePlus plans to begin its roll out the major operating system upgrade to most of its users in Q1 2016 (by March 2016 at the latest).  The upgrade schedule is complicated somewhat by the different ROMs available for the devices and the different models, but it's widely assumed that all model and firmware combinations from the OEM will be upgraded by the end of H1 2016 (so by June 2016).

To refresh, for those who aren't familiar OnePlus has made a name for itself by being among the first high-profile Android OEMs to offer devices with branched versions of Android produced via replacement firmware projects.  Currently the flagship OnePlus One and 2 are offered with two different options -- the popular CyanogenMod and OnePlus's own in-house replacement firmware offering, Oxygen OS.

Android Marshmallow is coming

The CyanogenMod development team is expected to incorporate the bits of Android Marshmallow, including its coveted fingerprint scanning API, the soonest.  Those bits may arrive as soon as Jan. 2016 and distribution should be wrapped up by OnePlus in Q1 2016.  For users of the Oxygen ROM, the wait may be a little longer, but it should be wrapped up by the end of H1 2016 (so June 2016 at the latest).

Thus far the only device not to get a rough timeframe is the more budget-minded 5-inch 1080p OnePlus X which saw a release earlier this month, following the late July release of the OnePlus 2.  However, as GSMArena suggests this update has been "greenlighted" and "may be... in Q2 [of] next year."

Android 5.0 ("Lollipop") saw a slow roll to customers and thus far it looks like Android 6.0 ("Marshmallow") will follow in suit.  While using replacement ROMs in theory might afford faster upgrades, it takes some time for distributors of branched versions of Android to bake in the new changes.  That means there's no free lunch when it comes to updates.

Android users ultimately have to either chose between buying a flagship Nexus device (which launches with the new Android version onboard) or wind up waiting one way or another (either via the sluggish traditional OEM process or via the process of porting to third party replacement ROMs like CyanogenMod).

OnePlus is a wholy owned subsidiary of China's OPPO Electronics.  While OPPO operates primarily in China, OnePlus has marketed more heavily overseas, including offering to the U.S.  Ultimately both companies are owned by OPPO's privately-held parent, BBK Electronics Corp., which makes for a relatively convoluted branding and ownership scheme.

While it has gained some ground in sales with its high end hardware offerings, affordable pricing, use of replacement firmware, and flashy market messages like the brand's "never settle" slogan, OnePlus has also been mired in persistent controversy.  Much of the frustration has revolved around the invite system used to allow users in various regions (including the U.S.) to order the device.  
OnePlus 2
After promises of a smoother invitation process, the launch of the OnePlus 2 played out similarly to the first generation model's launch -- which is to say it was a mess.

Cofounder Carl Pei -- a former Oppo VP -- apologized to customers in Sept. 2015 for botching the invite process for the OnePlus 2.  OnePlus had previously promised a smoother system than was seen with its first device.  But ultimately the second flagship's late July launch played out much like the first.  Eager customers faced delays because of the poorly executed system and were only generally able to get their hands on the devices starting in September -- roughly two months after the device's initial launch.

The OEM's market efforts have also been criticized.  One campaign -- "Ladies First" -- was panned as misogynist and was cancelled in a panic.  Another effort, "Smash the Past" led to complaints from users who destroyed their current devices thinking they would win the ability to purchase a OnePlus One for $1.  Critics on various forums, including Reddit and XDA Developers [e.g. [1][2][3]] have also criticized the customer service provided by the Chinese devicemaker.

Still, OnePlus has managed to somehow shake off most of these criticisms.  Its OnePlus 2 generated a million reservations within 72 hours and sold off all 30,000 initial launch units in China.  By Sept. 2015 it had generated 5 million sales -- a pretty respectable figure for a single Android model.  Sales -- and the OEM's somewhat unique use of custom ROMs -- continue to force the market to take note of OnePlus, in spite of the controversy.

Sources: OnePlus [forums], via GSMArena

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