How to Update Your Android OS

Getting the latest Android update can be a simple task or a tedious one

In general, Android updates will come courtesy of your carrier. How you access OS updates will vary, but you should prepare your phone or tablet in a few ways before you start downloading.

The newer your phone is, the sooner you'll receive OS updates; Google's Pixel smartphones gets them first. Those with phones running on older OS versions will have to jump through a few hoops first or might not be able to update at all.

Here's how you can find out which version of the Android OS you're running, get OS updates, and what to do if you don't want to wait for your carrier to issue the OS update.

The directions below should generally apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc. Each handset may have slightly different names for things, however.

Updating Your Android OS

On a Pixel smartphone, you'll get OS updates within days of their release. You'll receive a notification with a prompt to download the update. On most Android smartphones, you can check for system updates in Settings; if one is available, you'll see information on what the update is with a download prompt.

Whether you got a notification or went into Settings, you can download and install the update right away or schedule it for later. Just follow the on-screen prompts.

Before you proceed, there are a few things should you do:

  • Back up your Android phone
  • Make sure your battery is at least at 50 percent
  • Plug the phone into a power source
  • Make sure you have enough space on your phone
  • Connect to Wi-Fi unless you have an unlimited data plan.

Google outlines how much space you need to download an update. If you don't have enough, you can offload some of your apps, pictures, and other files to make room using Android's file manager.

Find Out Which Version of Android You Have

If no update is available, you should check which version of Android you have, which will help you figure out if and when you're eligible for an update. On most smartphones, you'll find this under About phone in Settings.

Finding Your OS Version on a Pixel

Depending on the brand of Android phone you have, the process is a bit different. Here's how to find your OS version on a Pixel phone. The interface will vary depending on the Android version you have.

  1. Open Settings

  2. Scroll down and tap System > About phone. Towards the bottom of the screen, you'll see your Android version.

    Viewing the Android version on a Pixel phone.

Finding Your OS Version on a Samsung Galaxy Phone

On Samsung Galaxy phones, the process is similar, though again, the interface might vary.

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Tap About Phone > Software Information. You'll see both your Android version and One UI version (Samsung's custom skin).

    Viewing the Android version on a Samsung phone.

Updating Other Android Phones

If you have a phone that's not from Google or Samsung, the process will be similar; check for instructions for your specific device from the manufacturer or carrier. The "About phone" section of settings contains your phone's model number, which can also help you figure out how to update your device (and if you can). Your carrier should also have information about whether you'll receive an OS update.

When Will You Get the Latest Android Version?

When the latest Android version is available, you'll receive a notification on an eligible phone; you can check for system updates by going into Settings.

If you own a Pixel, you probably already know that your device receives updates as soon as one is available. In this case, you will be alerted to updates within the first few days of an OS release.

Otherwise, if you own a newer non-Pixel phone, you'll be first in line when your wireless carrier starts rolling out OS updates. The older your hardware, the longer you'll have to wait. And if it's old enough, you might not receive updates at all. The same applies if you have a lower-end device; again, check with your manufacturer and carrier to find out their policy.

Get an Android Update by Rooting Your Phone

If you want the latest OS as soon as it's available, you can still choose to root your phone, which enables you to access updates when you want them. That's just one of the many benefits of rooting your Android device. You'll also be able to access features not yet available to unrooted Android smartphones and tablets.