I have a nexus device. Whenever new version of android is released, the phone gets it almost instantly. I want to know why other manufacturers doesn't update their software in the same timespan. For some manufacturers, this process can take several months.

Is there a technical challenge that prevents them to do this? or is just matter of not allocating enough resources to do this?

I know about the differences between different ROMs and manufacturers, UI layers and so on... I'm asking is if so difficult (and why), or if manufacturers just don't want to do it, to release the new ROMs earlier.

To give an example about what I'm saying: when I updated from Windows 7/8 to Windows 10 in several computers (MSI, Acer, Lenovo, and custom build), I just clicked the "update" button and all the computers updated fine, without drivers problems... Why android is not the same case? Every major release introduces several breaking changes that makes it difficult for manufacturers?


3 Answers 3


It may help to go through this graphic:

Notice that the graphic has a blue 'Google Play Edition' path which was when non-Nexus manufacturer had devices with only stock Android. This blue line would be the closest approximation to a Nexus device and notice how it doesn't have as many blocking points as the orange 'Carrier Device'.

Comparing to PC

You have to realize that the PC Hardware layer is relatively standardized on a x64 architecture either from Intel or AMD.

Android has multiple CPU architectures to support (ARMv7,ARMv8,x86,x64,MIPS) manufactured by different vendors (Samsung, Qualcomm, NVidia, Rockchip, Intel, MIPS) and its in Step 5 that the various vendors have to see what will get support. Way more customization goes on here than a normal PC.

HTC Software Update Process

Originally from: http://www.htc.com/us/go/htc-software-updates-process/


IMO , izzy, benjaminS have pointed you to several reasons as to why it is complicated. I am consolidating these inputs to answer technical reasons

Let's get business reasons out of way first. Nexus devices

are considered Google's flagship Android products (...) Nexus devices are often among the first Android devices to receive updates to the operating system.(linkage should be obvious)

Fragmentation is the key

Update process graphic pointed out by benjaminS, beautifully illustrates steps involved. Steps 4 and 5 are hardware related , which is heavily fragmented . This is a major challenge.

Let's start by taking the example of Samsung, which launched Note 2 devices, in two variants,which are identical in all respects, except the chip set (Exynos , homegrown Samsung processor and Snapdragon). This led to different ROMs being developed , tested and ported and released at different dates (don't remember the specifics, was about 4 months as I recall-talking of international versions). This is with only critical hardware difference. Next, consider various other hardware elements-screen, camera, earphones to name a few others and fragmentation mushrooms. Add to that low cost competition coming up with rebranded devices and the panorama of fragmentation grows huge. Hence,

  • OEMs have to customise ROMs from source code. Adding bloatware and customised UI takes more time

  • ROMs have to be different for different hardware, though they may be similar in other ways

  • ROMs have to be country /region specific even if the hardware is same

  • Carriers add their own value and time penalty

it should be pretty obvious now why rolling out is delayed and comparing this scenario with PCs didn't hold given the standardised architecture

Edit: By the time I got down to preparing this answer, see that another answer had been posted, having an overlap


The thing is, other manufacturers have to update their skin and extra features they introduce with the product. Not everything would be compatible so they test it till everything is fixed! Moreover, there is this whole career thing, which is super complicated. Therefore, other's have to wait. While on the nexus devices, they are on Pure Stock Android with no customization. Thus, Google controls the updates and they get updates quite quickly.

EDIT: The complications of the career is explained beautifully in a howtogeek article, you may want to check it out: http://www.howtogeek.com/163958/why-do-carriers-delay-updates-for-android-but-not-iphone/

  • Why is super complicated? That's my question :) Mar 17, 2016 at 14:51
  • @IAmJulianAcosta Did the new edit I did help you? Mar 17, 2016 at 15:02
  • @IAmJulianAcosta It's complicated because manufacturers often make it complicated with lots of third-party alterations, customizations, and often a bunch of bloat. If they also just ported and released stock android, their job would be much easier and would primarily focus on hardware compatibility.
    – Enigma
    Mar 17, 2016 at 15:03

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