Android for dummies # 28. Phone update

Update Android smartphone. How, why and why.

As you know, Android, like any other OS, has many different versions. Conventionally, they can be divided into major and minor. Major versions contain major changes, brings a number of new features and capabilities. Minor versions usually contain minor updates, in most cases related to the solution of found errors and vulnerabilities.

New versions Android are released by Google. But by adapting them for a specific smartphone – the manufacturer of the device itself. Because of this, a lot of time passes between the announcement of the new version Android and the actual update of the phone. Nexus series devices and GPE versions of devices receive updates first. Then – the flagship models of the companies.

The overwhelming majority of modern mobile devices support the so-called OTA updates, that is, they can download the update via Wi-Fi. The advantage of this method is that no unnecessary gestures are required from the user. The smartphone itself will notify about the new update, and the user will only have to click on the 'OK' button. But OTA updates have one drawback – they often appear with some delay. The fact is that manufacturers are updating devices in 'waves' in an effort to reduce the load on their servers. And a situation may well arise when your friend's smartphone has already received an update, but it still does not come to your phone. This is especially true for 'gray' smartphones brought from abroad.

Many manufacturers offer an alternative upgrade path. To do this, you need to connect the smartphone to the computer using a cable, download a special program from the manufacturer's website and use it to install the update on the phone. This method is a little more complicated, but it avoids long waiting times.


You need to understand that the release of a new version of the OS does not in itself guarantee that the manufacturer will decide to update your smartphone model to it. Usually this decision is motivated by the obsolete hardware of the device. But in practice, the reason lies elsewhere – to release updates for existing devices, instead of investing the same money in the development and promotion of new ones, it is often simply not profitable. Especially when it comes to budget devices. In this situation, the user has three options.

Option one – just accept the lack of updates. The first years Android developed very actively, each new update brought dozens of important and necessary functions that greatly facilitated the use of the smartphone. But these times are long behind and now something really revolutionary from new OS updates is not to be expected. And in practice, you are unlikely to lose much from not updating.

The second option is to buy a new device with a new OS version. Or buy a smartphone that is guaranteed to receive such an update. But, again, is it worth buying a new smartphone just for the sake of the next update Android is a moot point.

Option three is to install custom firmware from third-party developers on the smartphone based on the new OS version. Usually, there is nothing fundamentally complicated in this, although it all depends on the specific phone model. In some models, getting root access and flashing a smartphone is literally a 'couple of clicks', while in others it may be simply impossible. It should be noted that in most cases, the process of flashing a smartphone leads to a loss of warranty. Although, if necessary, no one bothers to return the 'native' firmware and as if nothing had happened to take the phone to the service center.

One way or another, you do the flashing of the phone at your own peril and risk. The main thing here is to use the instructions from a reliable source (I recommend using the well-known forum of the resource), follow it as clearly as possible and never hack by saying to yourself 'ah, and that's fine.' Otherwise, your phone may well turn into a brick.

The more popular the phone model, the more different firmwares there are for it. Some firmware exist only for one specific smartphone model, others support dozens of different devices. Some firmwares contain practically 'clean' Android with a number of small improvements, others radically change the smartphone interface. Despite the fact that they may have a number of advantages compared to the official firmware, they may also have a number of shortcomings. For example, the quality of images may drop or several useful functions from the manufacturer's proprietary shell may disappear. Before choosing a firmware, carefully read its description and read reviews of other users.

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