Can You Upgrade Your Android?

By Tiffany Garden

Android smartphones and tablets come with specific versions of the Android operating system. Operating system upgrades may be offered from time to time through your wireless service provider or the manufacturer. However, you don't always get updates at the same time that Android releases new versions, as your wireless service provider may provide a specific version for your phone that you need to wait for. If this is the case, you can root the Android operating system and install your own OS upgrades.

Over-the-Air Update

Over-the-air updates are pushed to your phone by your wireless service provider. These updates may be provided soon after a new version of Android is released, or be provided some time after. You apply over-the-air updates by accepting the update prompt when it appears on your phone. Your phone then downloads and installs the update. The phone may prompt you to connect to a wireless network instead of your data network to download the update.

Upgrade File

The operating system upgrade files may be available directly from your wireless service provider or device manufacturer as an installation file. The exact installation method depends on which company you're going through. You may need to transfer this file onto your cell phone or run an update application. The updater applies the latest Android upgrade to your device so you can take advantage of the latest bug fixes, updates and features.

Manual Upgrade

If you use a rooted Android device, you do not need to wait for a company to release an Android OS update for your phone, and can instead apply operating system updates directly to the phone using an update file. Your phone's recovery loader handles the operating system update and applies it to the phone. You can use this upgrade method to try out different versions of the Android operating system or get an update before it is released by your cell phone company. However, note that you may void your warranty if you root the phone or apply an operating system update that's not supported by the company.

Operating System Versions

There are many different versions of the Android operating system, and some may work better with your phone than others. Software developers may create custom ROMs and kernels for Android that affects the way the OS runs on your phone. If you use an unsupported operating system version, revert to a supported operating system before receiving warranty service and assistance.