For the rest of the pack, however, it’s a To make Android work on their hardware, device manufacturers (like Samsung, HTC, or Motorola) must write Android device drivers specifically for their phones.
These are often closed-source, so they can only be updated by said manufacturer.
Google can’t just release a new version of Android that works on all devices—they release the new version, then manufacturers have to go in and tweak it for each of their phones. Most Android handset manufacturers—like Samsung and LG, for example—“skin” their phones to make them stand out in the crowd.
And by that, I mean they add/remove/change the interface and apps to make it their own.
Unlike Apple’s ecosystem, where Apple releases a single i Phone each generation, Android is a much more open (and messy) environment.
Any manufacturer can make a smartphone or tablet, throw Android on it, and release it.
Google also guarantees that level of support for at least two years for all major Android updates, and an unprecedented three years for monthly security updates. (And despite what you’ve heard, it’s not exclusive to Verizon.) If you absolutely can’t buy the Pixel, though—say, if you’re dead set on getting the newest Samsung Galaxy—then go for it.
Custom ROMs allow Android geeks to buy hardware they like and install a more stock Android operating system on it, removing the manufacturer’s software customizations and updating the operating system to the latest version.
But if you’re not running a stock Android handset that is updated your phone will ever even see any of those updates.
New Android users are often disappointed to discover that their shiny new smartphone won’t get any updates—or worse, that it’s running old software the moment they bought it.
It’s all about deciding what’s important to you, honestly.
There is another, much less-recommended way of making sure your phone has the latest version of Android, as long as you’re very tech savvy: Custom ROMs.