Can I upgrade my Android phone to the latest version?

Can I upgrade my Android phone to the latest version?

Owning a smartphone places the entire world in your hands.

Yet this world is constantly evolving, as technology advances and manufacturers incorporate new features into their handsets.

Operating systems are in a constant state of flux, with the latest version of Android launched in August.

Android Pie represents a significant improvement over its predecessor (Oreo), and would be unrecognisable to people still using an older version like KitKat or Lollipop.

But could your existing handset be upgraded to Android Pie – and if not, how can you acquire the latest generation of Android software?

How to check if you have the latest version of Android

Go to the Settings menu (you might also need to tap General) and choose About Phone.

Go into Software Information, and the version of Android currently installed will be listed.

Confusingly, it’s often represented as a number – version 8.0.0 is 2017’s Oreo.

The version of Android your handset runs will depend on a number of factors, including its age and level of sophistication.

(A Samsung Galaxy S7 might be two models behind the latest S9, but a handset bought earlier this year should still have Oreo installed.

Conversely, an LG G5 bought in early 2016 would have come with Android Nougat, which is now two generations out of date).

If an update is available, you’ll see a yellow number displaying on the Home screen, or on the About Device page.

The phone will download and install its replacement OS, reboot itself and then complete the update.

It’s advisable to connect your handset to WiFi before downloading large update files.

Can I manually upgrade to the latest version of Android?

Sadly not.

Your ability to upgrade is determined by the device manufacturer, and sometimes also by your network operator.

There is no obligation on either party to support updates, meaning the features of Android Pie (like its innovative device usage recording tools) remain off-limits to most people.

Google Pixel owners can manually update to a newer version of Android, such as a preview version of a forthcoming OS.

However, this involves technical processes like downloading system images, while previews are glitchy by definition.

Other Android devices could be forcibly upgraded by rooting them, though rooting is a risky process.

We published a guide on rooting Android devices [] back in March.

What should I do before I upgrade to the latest version of Android?

First of all, we’d recommend backing up any data stored on your handset to a microSD card, the cloud or your phone’s SIM.

Contact details are particularly important, but this is also a good time to connect the phone to a computer via USB and copy across media files or irreplaceable documents.

Software updates are usually seamless (if frustratingly time-consuming), but there’s always a risk of data being lost when deleting and replacing a version of Android.

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