I have inherited an Android mobile and would like to upgrade it to the latest version of Android. Having come across posts such as is it possible to upgrade the android OS on all phones?, it appears I won't be able to. However, I am unsure what the definition of carrier is especially if the phone has been imported from overseas. Is there a way I could upgrade without jailbreaking the mobile phone? My question is applicable to all mobile phones running Android.

  • Note that the terminology is generally "rooting" rather than "jailbreaking" for Android devices. The carrier that's relevant will be the original network operator that released the software running on the device; the actual network you use the device on (if any) is irrelevant :) – Matthew Read Apr 18 '12 at 0:22
  • @Matthew Read - Thanks Matthew. Wasn't aware the term rooting is used. Will bear that in mind. Also how do I know it came from a network operator and not directly from the manufacturer? – PeanutsMonkey Apr 18 '12 at 1:05
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    Normally some kind of branding should be apparent, whether physically on the phone, in the apps or themes on the device, or in the Settings (e.g., About Phone). It's unlikely to come from the manufacturer directly if it's a phone, at least in North America. No hard and fast rule, really. You could probably search for your build number (in About) online to see if it comes up with more info. – Matthew Read Apr 18 '12 at 1:24
  • @Matthew Read - Thanks Matthew. I had a look at the apps and themes as well as settings and there is no mention of a carrier of any sort. The phone seems to have come from Taiwan directly. It is a HTC. – PeanutsMonkey Apr 18 '12 at 1:44

Most phones can't upgrade (officially) without a signed firmware package designed to upgrade from the existing version of Android that's already on the phone. In those cases, you can't upgrade without rooting and/or unlocking your bootloader and/or flashing a custom recovery, which all void your warranty.

Some phones may not be as limited; for example, the original software on the original Galaxy S devices allowed unsigned updates to be flashed without needing to unlock the device. Theoretically you could try to flash a firmware package from a different region; it's hard to say how that would affect your warranty (and besides, that's really off-topic here :P). You could also of course flash a custom ROM with a newer version of Android, which again will void your warranty just like rooting.

  • Thanks. Are there security disadvantages of not upgrading? – PeanutsMonkey Apr 18 '12 at 1:06
  • @PeanutsMonkey Probably. It's certainly been the case that security issues have been fixed in newer versions of Android, and 4.0 has filesystem encryption whereas 2.3 did not, and so on. – Matthew Read Apr 18 '12 at 1:25
  • Makes no sense at all to me why upgrades would be restricted to devices and why I have to root a device to get updates. – PeanutsMonkey Apr 18 '12 at 1:45

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