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How to know what version of Android you have and update it to the latest

How to know what version of Android you have and update it to the latest

WhatsApp already stop working on Android mobiles prior to the Gingerbread 2.3.7 version. It will do so from July 1. How do you know if it affects you? It all starts with knowing which version of Android you have. The case of the popular messaging application is not unique. Many applications do not work in old versions. Some also take time to release a stable update for the newer Android versions. Kitkat, Oreo, Nougat, Pie... Next, we explain how to know what Android you have on your device. And how to update it to the latest version.

How to know which version of Android you have

Since its inception in 2003, 22 major versions of Android have been released. Each one with its updates. As of today, 16 of them still have a market penetration of more than 0.1%, according to the statistics provided by Google. In fact, the latest version of Android is not the most widely used. This honor still belongs to Android Oreo (8.0 and 8.1) with more than 25% penetration.

If you have a fairly new smartphone or tablet, chances are Oreo is your version. If the brand has put the batteries, you may even have Android 9 Pie, the latest stable version. Some will even receive the third beta of Android Q (the next version) in the coming weeks. This is the simple procedure to follow to be sure which version of Android you have:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to the System section and search for Android Version.
  3. An alternative is to type Android version, in the search engine that will appear at the top of Settings.
  4. There the Android version installed on the device will be displayed. Usually, it is expressed with numbers, for example, Android 8.1.0 or Android 7.1.1.

The higher the version numbers, the more up to date it will be. In addition, Android versions always have their own name (associated with a sweet) by which they are known. This is the list of the most popular:

  • Gingerbread: 2.3.3 - 2.3.7
  • Ice Cream Sandwich: 4.0.3 - 4.0.4
  • Jelly Bean: 4.1 - 4.3
  • Kit Kat: 4.4
  • Lollipop: 5.0 - 5.1
  • Marshmallow: 6.0
  • Nougat: 7.0
  • Oreo: 8.0
  • Foot: 9.0
  • Android Q: version 10 still in beta

How to have the latest version of Android

Although Google has its own line of phones, the Android operating system is used by many other brands. They do not always adapt the versions to their devices. Sometimes they even abandon updates entirely. However, the sure way to get the latest version of Android is to wait for the smartphone manufacturer to notify you.

It is what is known as an OTA or over the air update. Once the Android version is released, the OTA usually takes a few days to several months to arrive. But beyond the patience that waiting requires, installing it does not entail great difficulty. It usually reaches devices automatically in the form of a notification. In this case, you just have to confirm that you want to install and follow the steps that the smartphone or tablet itself tells us.

OTAs sometimes have to be forced manually. In that case, you will have to go to the same point where we checked before which version of Android we had. Settings> System> Android version. There, most devices will have an update or search for updates section. It is the best way to check if the latest version of Android is available for our device.

What if there is no official update?

There are alternative methods if we do not have an OTA. However, manufacturers do not recommend them and are intended for users with some experience. They are not impossible, but require some handling of the device. One wrong step can break the device (completely block the mobile or tablet). So from here on, you go ahead at your own risk.

Option 1: install the firmware from another region
The fact that an OTA has not arrived does not mean that the latest version of Android is not available for your device. Sometimes it simply hasn't been released or unlocked in the region. In this case, you can try installing a firmware (the program that controls all the circuits of the device) from another country.

To do this, you will have to download the firmware of the exact same model that we have. Such programs may be available officially or in third-party repositories. For example, for Google mobiles we can download them from Android Developers, for Samsung from Sammobile and for LG from LG Firmwares.

The next step, the most complicated, is to install the firmware. In addition, it is a process that varies between brands and models, so it is better to follow the detailed instructions on the website where we download the firmware. It is important to always follow the instructions step by step and do nothing until you are sure that we have understood everything.

Option 2: try a ROM
If none of the above options work, there is still one last possibility. Trust the ROM community, a group of non-manufacturer developers who create and modify their own firmwares. It is a difficult way to achieve the latest version of Android. As in the previous case, the installation instructions also vary between brands. But there, in general terms, are the steps to follow.

  1. Make a backup. Fundamental step in case something goes wrong. At least, our data such as contacts or photos will be safe.
  2. Root the device or gain root access. You should look for how it is done in the specific model you are dealing with. It is best to go to the Android XDA Developers  a developer forum.
  3. Unlock the bootloader. The first program that loads the device on startup. Many manufacturers block it to prevent the user from touching the system. Again, it is best to search the instructions for each specific model in specialized forums.
  4. Download the desired ROM. Unzip it and copy it to the device. There are popular and more specific versions, although it is recommended to make sure that it works on the specific model. 
  5. Install a recovery mode. It is the menu that allows you to make adjustments in the system. Android brings its own, but to install a ROM it is necessary to have others such as CWM Recovery. It can also be done from the computer with a program like ADB Sideload.
  6. Install the ROM. Just like formatting, installing the ROM will (probably) erase all data on the device. It is recommended to follow the instructions of the developers of each firmware.
  7. Restart and enjoy the latest version of Android. If everything went well, this ends here. If it went wrong, you can go back to the recovery mode, try to install another ROM or reinstall the original firmware (and forget about the Android update).

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