OK, let's be real – do Android updates matter that much to you?


Android has always been scrutinized for the major issue of slow updates. Sure, Google pushes out the latest Android build to its Nexus and Pixel phones quite fast, but 3rd party manufacturers get left in the dust, trying to make their custom UI play nice with the new OS, then pushing the update to carriers who have to give it the final greenlight before distribution to the users.

But let's slow down and think about this for a second. Samsung and LG have long had their custom interfaces on top of Google's OS and they both look radically different to the vanilla Android. On top of that, features like multi-view (split screen), fingerprint scanner support, and battery-saving were present on many 3rd party skins before Google made them native to the OS.

So, if you are a Samsung user, for example, the only thing you gained, feature-wise, in the past 2 years were two facelifts of the operating system. Everything else is still there as it was before, simply because it was there before Google implemented it.

We thought we'd ask you — does it really matter if you are on the latest Android? Do keep in mind, that we are not talking about the security updates here. These should be regular, on time, and hit every contemporary device, there's no arguing that point.

Does it matter if you have the latest Android update?

Yes! Granted, I am on a vanilla or close-to-vanilla device
33.83%
Yes! Even if I am on a heavily-skinned device
39.8%
Nope, as long as I have the latest features
26.37%

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42 Comments

1. scarface21173

Posts: 690; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

Oh yes, i check for updates daily.

12. Nine1Sickness

Posts: 896; Member since: Jan 30, 2011

I check for updates daily too, but my HTC EVO 4G is still stuck on Froyo.

15. nikhil23

Posts: 442; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

that's a damn good phone. it's upgrad-able to Gingerbread btw

34. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

But are you checking for system updates or app updates?

2. samgsam

Posts: 148; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

I am a OnePlus 3T user so I'm used to frequent updates.

20. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

I, for one, don't mind about the latest and the greatest as long the phone I'm using is smooth and zios through everything.

35. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Agree. Phone firmware update is not as important as stability and security. Especially on manufacturers that don't have the capacity to update their phone properly. I am looking at you XiaoMi and Sony which sometimes manage to make their updated phone worse.

41. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Sony, yes...Xiaomi, I don't know yet. I had and still have Xperia SP. It is a pretty phone but the instability has got me like, wanting to throw it to a wall more than a dozen times. Bought Redmi 1S and used beside the Sony for a couple of months and it was better than the SP. Crashes and freezes are an hourly affair with Sony. Now have OP3 and loving it.

3. MarmiteTheDog

Posts: 191; Member since: Jul 31, 2017

The jump from Android 5 to 6 wasn't particularly great, but from 6 to 7 was quite significant and has certainly breathed new life into my S6 Edge. Security updates I'm less bothered about.

7. cmdacos

Posts: 4208; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

That had more to do with Samsung's software optimizing than it did with nougat

10. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"That had more to do with Samsung's software optimizing than it did with nougat" Yes, but Samsung's software optimization comes along with the Android updates for Samsung devices. Can't separate Samsung's UI and Android OS when talking about receiving an Android update for a Samsung smartphone.

13. cmdacos

Posts: 4208; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

True but the new Experience UI was fine on the Note 7 prior to Nougat. In theory samsung could push out UI updates without being tied to an android update but wouild still be tied to carrier interference. Unlikely to happen though.

33. phonearenarocks

Posts: 606; Member since: Mar 26, 2015

Absolutely, it is one of the best implemented things in the mobile world. My S6 Edge looks and feels brand new and i can wait till i get next near perfection phone.

4. SupermanayrB

Posts: 1188; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

If the update has security patches, new features & big fixes, they matter very much.

5. jellmoo

Posts: 2588; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Absolutely. Security alone makes them important.

11. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

You can receive security patches without the Android OS update. So they're different.

21. jellmoo

Posts: 2588; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Not all though. Some security updates only come via Android updates.

24. ph00ny

Posts: 2031; Member since: May 26, 2011

Are you referring to the monthly security update or OS update

27. jellmoo

Posts: 2588; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Monthly security updates are one thing, but Android OS updates are another. Some security fixes can only be done via Android OS update, which is why they remain important (features notwithstanding).

6. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1354; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

aside from security patches, I use to really care about Android updates when I was using a Motorola or an HTC but using Samsung phones I really am not missing much. As the article states some of what Google is now adding are features that Samsung , LG . HTC etc.. had Pioneered way back ( Multi screen, split view, Camera features, Note taking apps etc..) I know people complained about the boat load of feature Sammy included on its devices but I don't think it was the features but the way they were organized and hidden in layers of menus and of course the performance hit it placed on the device. But since the S6 the way Samsung reorganized and simplified their menu structure and placing most of its extra features on the Play store for you to decide to install when you want has made a huge difference. The hardware, IMO, ( Exynos always the best for me) has really come inline with the new SX UI.

8. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

For me they usually don't. But its only because I usually buy the latest phone every year. Bill Gates has always stated, that the best way to enjoy the full benefits of an update to windows, was to buy hardware with it preinstalled. That hardware is designed to take full benefit of the software vs what you get when you upgrade. But Android updates are not like Windows updates. If you phone comes with for example, Android 6.01, then I expect you should get every single update that comes for version 6.xx. Version 7 is not an update, but a new firmware and their is no guarantee your device will or should get it. Same as I feel about Windows. Bith Windows Vista and 7 were based off the same version number of Windows NT. Yet Microsoft charged for Windows 7, when it was nothign more than an update. That's BS. Apple does not do this. Every version of OSX (Mac OS 10) has been free. But Apple limited who can use it, by makign it only work on certain hardware configs, which I feel is also wrong. If you PC has the power to run it, you should have some type of option to buy or get it as an upgrade. If I have hardware that is capable, then provide it to me as an upgrade at a reduced cost. If my S8 gets Android 7, then fine. If not fine. I don't expect it because my [phone came with Android 6.01 and it was design and tested to work with said software. The phone doesn't magically stop working just because a new version comes around. I dont sit looking for updates or want to be bother with updates unles sthey are really needed. Apple can update faster as its easy to update one frikkin phone. People who keep comparing apple to Android OEM's who make few phones or who make many phones is just dumb. But Samsung for example, does need to do better. But every phone comes with the software it was designed to work around. Many times updates cause more issues than they fix. Especially for iOS. I don't care that Android updates tale longer. They also tend to be far less problematic vs any other platform, especially IOS. When the Note 9 comes, the Note 8 or S8 will likely finally be getting Android 7.0 and 8.0 will already be around the corner. But do to testing and time schedules, OEM's are not gonna stop just to use a new version of Android. Those who complain can either move to another OEM or platform. Complaining about slow updates, that no one ever said you were goign to get or should get is just dumb. If my S8 gets updated before I get rid of it great. If not I;m equally OK with it. To each his/her own.

17. nikhil23

Posts: 442; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

A small correction, S8 comes with 7.0 with 7.1 due for Q3

9. cmdacos

Posts: 4208; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

I get monthly security patches and I get a new phone every year so I'm good. Even get the patches on my tab s3. Only been with android since kit Kat but each iteration brings very little difference except to add features I already had with my samsung device.

14. baldilocks

Posts: 1505; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

This is why I try to stay with a Nexus or Pixel product.

16. TheOracle1

Posts: 2264; Member since: May 04, 2015

I've always argued this with the "stock android" crowd whilst pointing out that in many cases new Android versions are actually about two iterations behind manufacturer skins. Personally I'm not bothered with the version I'm on. I currently use devices (phones, tablets and tv boxes) ranging from Kitkat to Marshmallow. My daily driver is a Xiaomi so updates will probably last longer than the phone.

18. harvardale

Posts: 51; Member since: Jul 22, 2011

Here's the main problem with (non-Pixel) Android updates, and it's not about major updates: Manufacturers like to release phones on the first iteration of a major release (i.e. 6.0 or 7.0) and then not update them incrementally. The problem is that those first iterations usually have quite a few bugs, sometimes including major bugs like battery drain and bluetooth connectivity. So the S8 may be released with 7.0 Nougat, but good luck getting incremental updates to 7.1.2. It's not going to happen. Maybe the S8 will see 7.1, but it won't be until after it's been on 7.0 for 6 months and after 8.0 is released. Another example: My Moto X Pure is still sitting on 6.0, which means I have bluetooth issues. I never got an incremental update to 6.0.1. I will more than likely get 7.0 soon, but that has it's own issues.

19. ibap

Posts: 867; Member since: Sep 09, 2009

Only matters if new apps are configured to not work on my version.

22. Rocket

Posts: 658; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

No idc, I'm still running cm13 on my oneplus 3.

23. libra89

Posts: 2281; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

This is a hard question. I chose the last option. If I still get the same features (and my apps still work) I don't really care about them. As long as I'm not too far back, it's fine with me. I like the kind of updates that fixes bugs but sometimes bigger updates can change how a device operates for the worst. I don't like version changes that make battery life become worse, especially if it is noticeable.

25. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

Considering that every update since Kit-Kat has been for the worse we really shouldn't put so much importance on the version number written somewhere deep inside settings app. With every Stock Android update you are getting features you should've gotten 3-4 years ago so no big deal if you use OEM device (if stock, you are out of luck). Even security patches are complete BS. With all the Stagefrights and other "vulnerabilities" how many people do any of you know that had their Android phone compromised? I know 3-4 people with iOS devices, 2 W10M users and everyone else uses Android. None of then had ever been compromised beyond forgetting their PIN or unlock pattern.

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