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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40 Comments

42. jpkelly05

Posts: 110; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

I used to care. I have Sam Galx Note5. Wife has SGS6. We are on att. She got latest update. We both hate it.

40. MrShazam

Posts: 987; Member since: Jun 22, 2017

If my phone is still easily receiving app updates, and has majority of the "new" features coming in the latest OS version, I couldn't really care less about having the latest OS, as I'm not missing out on anything major. Also, if an update isn't yet available for very essential apps like Xposed + XPrivacy to make it compatible with the latest OS, then I would much rather remain "outdated" than install the latest Android OS. As Android is a privacy-invasive haven without XPrivacy there to control everything, staying "outdated" is technically more secure for my data.

37. steelew

Posts: 222; Member since: Jun 04, 2012

as long as they keep leaving things unfinished or make it hard to change UI elements, I will keep holding out. I can't wait to my phone to be like my PC where it is fast enough and easy to customize without compromising its safety (root). I root my phone now mainly just for aesthetics so it will look and function how i want it to. I have added more quick settings, more navbar icons, darkened all the themeable apps using substratum, added knock to unlock and double tap to sleep. I'm waiting for google would add that stuff.

36. ZeeNasir

Posts: 131; Member since: Nov 25, 2012

HTC 10.

32. monoke

Posts: 1213; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

My phone is still Kk by choice and it's all good here, battery, performance, ram management, etc. So no, updates are not supreme importance to me. If people would read change logs and bugs report, they may find that the factory software their phone initially came with is still optimal imo.

31. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1622; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

Most of the big updates people wait for I see little improvement when they come to my phone, it's mostly visual changes. Samsung does a good job of filling their phone with features as is. I do care about security updates, those are important.

30. lyndon420

Posts: 6946; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

I get monthly security updates for my Nexus 6, but other than that updates are the last thing on my mind. Now...if my phone was being a jerk and not working properly I'd be clamoring for updates. My phone works well, and the only time it upsets me is when I have to visit this site...no other site I visit slows my phone down like it does on PA's site.

29. Lumberjack

Posts: 306; Member since: May 04, 2017

I update because security patches and new icons. Besides this, only useful thing is APP PERMISSIONS..

28. MDave

Posts: 210; Member since: Apr 09, 2015

Of course not. I care about truly important things, like having a curved display. I just can't live without the way it distorts colors and many other glaring benefits.

26. DontHateOnS60

Posts: 872; Member since: Apr 20, 2009

They matter if they actually make the phone better to use, not make it worse like with the Nougat update for the S7/S7 Edge.

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.

23. libra89

Posts: 2356; 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.

22. Rocket

Posts: 748; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

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

19. ibap

Posts: 873; Member since: Sep 09, 2009

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

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.

16. TheOracle1

Posts: 2340; 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.

14. baldilocks

Posts: 1561; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

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

9. cmdacos

Posts: 4424; 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.

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: 507; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

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

6. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1382; 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.

5. jellmoo

Posts: 2702; 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: 2702; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

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

24. ph00ny

Posts: 2085; Member since: May 26, 2011

Are you referring to the monthly security update or OS update

27. jellmoo

Posts: 2702; 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).

4. SupermanayrB

Posts: 1188; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

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

3. MarmiteTheDog

Posts: 192; 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: 4424; 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.

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