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Variations on this question appear to be a common unanswered question; often they have a comment or two that I don't understand. I'm hoping someone can answer with some general background information, the concepts.

E.g. I see reference to "rooting". Do I need to root a phone before I can upgrade it? I've had previous Android phones that got auto-updated (either by the carrier or manufacturer: I just find a message that says: "a new update has been downloaded, click here to install"), and I didn't need to root them.

E.g. Can any smartphone be upgraded to Android 4.4? If not why not? And why might a manufacturer not want users to update their phones? Are some manufacturers more open to having phones updated, and some not? Does anyone keep a list of "upgrade-hostile" manufacturers?

E.g. does the phone being sim-locked (to a specific carrier) matter?

I'm not going to say what my phone is because that will distract from the more general answers I'm after.

marked as duplicate by Dan Hulme, bmdixon, geffchang, onik Aug 16 '14 at 14:52

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