Android L - will my phone get the update?

Our predictions of which phones will see the next version of Android

Look at the phone in front of you. You probably love it, and chances are it's one of the most used items you own. It's OK to be a little attached to it, and it's a great idea to keep it as long as you can instead of spending money on each and every new thing that comes along.

We know that's not always easy. Soon, we're going to start hearing more and more about Android L, how great it does something, or how cool some new feature looks. You're going to want Android L on the phone in your hands. Not that you need it, and nothing that your phone does today will stop working just because there's a new version of Android. Still, as Android fans, we just gotta have it.

For some of us, that means a new phone. Still hanging on to that Galaxy S3? Yeah, you're upgrading or rooting and romming. For others, getting Android L is a given — the Nexus 5 and most of the Google Play devices will have it in short order after it rolls out sometime later this year. But for most of us, we get to speculate and talk about it a little bit.

Let's talk.

Google devices

Nexus 5

This means Nexus phones (and tablets) and Google Play edition devices. These are your best bet to not only get Android L, but get it without waiting for manufacturers and carriers to jump in and fill it with apps and features you never will use and didn't want in the first place.

It's also pretty easy to guess which of these devices will see Android L and which won't.

The Nexus 5 is a lock. You can try out the "L Preview" on it right now if you're bold and have enough time to set everything up — and set it back up again when you realize that the L Preview is no where ready for daily use.

I'm going to say that all of the Google Play edition phones — includng the ones that were discontinued — will see Android L.

I'm also predicting that the sexiest phone ever made — the Nexus 4 — will not get Android L. And that makes me sad. I hope I'm wrong, but it's going to be two years old. That's a lifetime in the tech industry.

On the tablet side, expect the Nexus 7 2013 and the LG G Pad Google Play edition to see an update. The 2012 tablets aren't going to get any L loving. Poor, poor Nexus 10. You were revolutionary as well as fabulous.

HTC devices

HTC One M8

If you draw a timeline of HTC phones, put a mark when the HTC One M7 was released. Everything later will see Android L. Everything earlier probably won't. HTC has basically said as much, and it makes sense if you look at it objectively. HTC just doesn't have the resources to update earlier phones like the Rezound.

Nobody has to like it. If you bought a Rezound or one of the HTC Butterfly phones, you know you spent top-dollar on a high-end phone that didn't get the updates it should have. HTC has clearly defined policies about updates going forward, but those went into effect after you bought your phone. And of course, adding a healthy portion of Verizon into the mix doesn't help anything.

None of this changes anything, though. If you bought an HTC phone released before the HTC One M7, I'm pretty sure you won't be getting any Android L updates.

LG devices

LG G3

The part of me that's been burned by LG's track record of updating phones says my G2 will never see Android L. The G3 will, but phones like the G Flex or the Optimus Pro 2 or my lovely little G2 may never see any new version of Android. LG hasn't said anything official, but that really doesn't mean too much.

But LG seems different as of late. They are making great phones, have improved their own software at least a thousand-fold, and are taking thing more seriosuly. This gives me some hope.

Since I have to make a prediction, I'll say the LG G3 and non-US versions of the G2 and G Flex will see a timely update. Nothing released sooner, and nothing a little lower on the "premium" scale. Carrier versions of the G2 and G Flex are going to depend on the carrier. And that scares me.

Prove me wrong, LG. Please.

Motorola devices

Moto X

Motorola has already said the Moto X, the Moto G and the Moto E will see Android L. We expected that the new Lenovo-fied management would keep the same pace in updating phones that the Google-led team did, and they pass the first test. We're pretty sure this includes the 2013 Verizon Droids, too.

Unfortunately, nothing else built by Motorola will see any updates. Moto seemed happy to abandon their old models, even when they weren't that old cough Droid Razr Maxx HD cough. None of those phones are going to see any updates. Motorola isn't going to spend the time or money, and neither is Verizon or AT&T or Sprint or anyone else. It's almost like there should be an Island of Misfit Phones.

Moto's been through a tough patch where they weren't making any money, and nobody seemed to want to buy their phones. I think part of their strategy to break out of that mold involves simple software that easy to update quickly. Expect to see Android L on a Moto phone very shortly after the release.

Samsung devices

Galaxy S5

This one's easy. The Galaxy S5, and Galaxy Note 3 will get updated to Android L as fast as Samsung is able to update them. The Galaxy S4 will follow shortly after, and then Samsung is basically done. The few high-end devices that weren't sold in the west will probably see an update, but none of us have them and nobody can guess when.

Samsung's mid-range and low-end devices will sit at whatever version they are on now until they stop working. Love it or hate it, that's part of Samsung's strategy — push out a ton of new cheap devices every year to be used as "feature-phone" replacements. Maybe phones like the Moto G and E or Nokia Lumias will change this, but not this year.

More importantly is how Samsung will alter Android L to continue to offer the things people love them for offering. They weren't able to do so with KitKat and the SD card, but they will do everything they can to keep users happy and buying Samsung products. Samsung's version of Android L will be amazing if you're a Samsung fan, but it might take a couple extra updates to get it sorted, because we all want it right now instead of when it's ready. I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do and how they will work the new design language into their software.

On the tablet side, I think things are pretty clear-cut. The Galaxy Tab 4 will see Android L, as will the Pro and Tab S lines they introduced this year. Don't look for an update on anything older, and if it happens nobody will be happier than I am. Sometimes, I love being wrong.

Sony devices

Xperia Z2

Nobody wants to update their gear to the next version of Android more than Sony does. They are big contributers to AOSP, and have a really good relation with developers. They just always seem to have one issue or another. Updating software when part of it is out of your control is hard. Sony really does try harder than anyone else, they just aren't ever very lucky.

Having said that, look for an Android L update for the Xperia Z1, Xperia Z2 and the upcoming Xperia Z3. The compact versions, and carrier versions, too. Other phones are a total crapshoot. Sony will do everything they can, but as we've seen, often that's not enough. I'll repeat myself — nobody wants to update to Android L more than Sony does.

The same thing goes for their tablets. The latest models will find a way to get an Android L update, but anything made earlier than mid-2013 is too unpredictable to predict.

The best news is that Sony works well with the guys who love to do things like write kernels or try to shoehorn unofficial software onto unlocked devices. No matter which Xperia phone you have, someone is going to try their damndest to get Android L on it and share their work.

Everything else

OnePlus One

What about my Oppo Find 5?!? The truth is, we mostly have no idea. Some companies, like OnePlus, have said they will be updating to Android L in a timely fashion, others are mostly silent. You can bet these companies are all looking at what it will take to update their late-model devices to Android L, but the cost-benefit — both in time and money — has to be there. Companies like Samsung have a whole team who writes and builds software for their Android devices. I imagine they work long hours without sunlight and fresh air, and we don't appreciate the difficult job they do. But HiSense probably doesn't have such a team. Companies like ASUS are vested in Android, but as mentioned the benefit of updating has to outweigh the cost.

If you're device was well built and popular, you can hope for an update. Some companies, like NVIDIA, can afford to work harder at it than others can. There is just no guarentee that it will happen.

Remember, your phone or tablet will still work just like it did before Android L was announced, and what Google is doing with things like Play Services and pulling apps out of the OS and into Google Play means that you don't always need a full OS update to enjoy new features.

And finally, remember this is our best educated guess about what's going to happen. We've been through this a few times, and feel we've got a good handle on how manufacturers and carriers think (or don't think) when it comes to updating devices. We wish we could say "Android L for everybody!" but we know we can't. That's not how Android works.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

303 Comments
  • I dont agree with the Sony part.Xperia SP wasn't even 18 months old and they didn't even release KitKat for it and the budget Xperia E did which is not even half as powerful as SP received the update
  • My Xperia E is still stuck on 4.1.1? Posted via Android Central App
  • Its Xperia E1,my bad Posted via Android Central App on Google Nexus 7 2013
  • Specifically mentioned z phones and said everything else is up in the air. I don't see what you're disagreeing with. Sony has been on their update game for the z series pretty good now Posted via Android Central App
  • yeah, perhaps think it's because the Z series, including the Z ultra, have a lot more hardware in common than other ranges?
    My wife has an Xperia SP and whilst it's a nice little handset, I am bothered that updates just don't seem to be happening.
  • In Assuming the droid series from last year was included in the moto x prediction.
  • Yes. I'll clear that up. To me, last year's Droids are a Moto X with a few different features.
  • But there is always the Verizon factor to consider. With that said, I really hope they can pull it together and get this line of devices Android L in a timely manner.
  • Being on Verizon has not been a problem for the 2013 Motorola phones when it has come to updates.
  • My Sprint G2 told me to say this, "root me, hotspot mod me, sim-unlock me, and don't except anymore updates." I said okay. Posted via the LG G2 Android Central App
  • Um. Good for you and your G2?
  • Can you tell your G2 it means "accept" not "except" please? I understand it's Korean so English may not be its primary predictive dictionary, but if it goes uncorrected it won't learn. Posted via Android Central App
  • Actually, I think it might have meant "expect"! As in, don't "expect" any more upgrades!
  • Lol Posted via Android Central App using an LG G2.
  • What about Verizon? The Moto X, (PREPAID) Moto G, and the 2013 DROIDs are all on 4.4.4. Posted via Android Central App (Moto X)
  • Historically they've been one of the worst carriers when it comes to approving updates for their devices. Based on this I figured they were still lacking on their Droid line from last year, but I'm glad I was wrong and that they've been doing a better job getting them out for users. Posted via Android Central App
  • On Motorola The 2012 DROIDs (DROID RAZR M, DROID RAZR HD, DROID RAZR MAXX HD) all got up to 4.4.2 KitKat. They're probably not getting 4.4.4 or anything higher. I wouldn't exactly call that being abandoned even though they're probably done getting system updates at this point. The 2013 DROIDs (DROID MINI, DROID ULTRA, and DROID MAXX) are all as current as the Moto X and Moto G on Verizon - running 4.4.4 KitKat. Officially, the 2013 DROIDs got KitKat before the Verizon Moto X and Moto G models. Android L for the 2013 DROIDs seems like a safe bet to me. When Motorola pledge two-year support for the 2013 models, I believe the 2013 DROIDs were a part of that.
  • Officially, the Verizon Moto X got kitkat even before the Nexus 4 did. So, no, none of those DROIDS got it before the X.
  • Droids were on 4.4.4 before the X or g Posted via Android Central App
  • Yes. I should have clarified. Posted via Android Central App (Moto X)
  • Specifically talking about 4.4.4. Posted via Android Central App (Moto X)
  • (Specifically talking about 4.4.4) Posted via Android Central App (Moto X)
  • edit-Duplicate comment
  • Isn't it already confirmed that the Nexus 4 is getting the Android L update? I mean the Nexus 7 (2013) has the L Preview, and it basically has the same exact components as the Nexus 4...? And didn't the Nexus 4 appear in Android L sourcecode?
  • +1 on Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 2013 having almost identical internal components. Not to worry though, would be a good reason to root/ROM that Nexus 4. Opinions of this user may be biased due to being one of those Nexus people.
  • Frankly, I would be shocked (and annoyed) if the Nexus 4 did NOT get Android L. There is literally no reason at all it should not get it. I have a Nexus 4 and a 5, so it's not a big loss to me personally if they don't. But it would be an idiotic and pointless move not to include the Nexus 4. Ditto with the 2012 Nexus 7. I would assume both of these will get Android L, even if they do not get it immediately.
  • Google's pattern has been to support 2 Nexus phones only, current nexus phone and the previous version (Nexus 6 & Nexus 5).
  • Nexus One ran low on ROM. Nexus S only had 512MB of RAM and a single core processor. Galaxy Nexus stopped having its drivers updated by TI. Nexus 4 still has a really good processor, plenty of RAM, and enough storage that not updating it makes no sense at all. In fact, it has the same processor and RAM as the Moto X, except it's quad-core vs. the Moto X's dual core processor, and the Moto X is being updated.
  • Well maybe not idiotic. When I got the nexus 5 I said I would keep it for 2 years. So for me if I had bought the nexus 4 nearly 2 years ago then I would be very interested in the nexus 6. Obviously the nexus 4 is very compatible with Android L and it should help it with its battery problems. It just makes sense for Google not to update it to push people onto buying a nexus 6 or even a cheaper nexus 5.
  • And given that Google released the L source code for the N4 already, it's odd to think they won't update it after doing all that work... Posted via Android Central App from my N4
  • Google hasn't released anything official for Android L on the Nexus 4, but developers have used the source code for the N5 and the N7 to create a working version for the N4. This is what makes me believe Jerry is wrong, and the Nexus 4 will get updated to Android L. I can see where he has his doubts, and I can value the strategy of not getting everyone's hopes up by saying it will be updated. Given that I plan on picking up either the new Moto X+1 or the next Nexus device, whatever it may be called, it won't break my heart if the N4 is not officially updated.
  • Actually i planned on getting a Nexus (6?) or moto X2 but as money has become tight,I may need to hold onto the Nexus 4 an extra 6 months.
    The "its 2 yrs old" thing doesn't fly, i would be pissed if i have to use a Nexus on 4.4.4 while GS5 is getting L.
    The Galaxy nexus didn't get Kitkat cause of the TI chips not its age.
    If the Moto X can run L so can the Nexus 4.
  • I agree about the age thing -- with the S4 Pro and the Adreno 320, two years is just not that long and the hardware is just not that long in the tooth. It would be like Windows 8.1 not supporting my 'old' Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU; it's preposterous.
  • To be fair a Q6600 is bloody old! Not judging though, I'm running a Q9550 and I do see your point. They're still excellent chips, the one thing that really dates them is lack of DDR3 support. Posted via Android Central App
  • I'm sad to burst your bubble, but I've had the Q6600 running on DDR3 Memory from 2009 - 2014 ... these pre-Core i Chips do have the memory controller in the northbridge, not the CPU - with a fitting board, you could either run DDR2 or DDR3 (I actually made that transition with the Q6600 when the board died on me).
  • Here's the L source code for the N4: https://android.googlesource.com/device/lge/mako/+/l-preview
    https://android.googlesource.com/device/lge/mako-kernel/+/l-preview
  • Research is lacking with this article the n4 will get it otherwise they wouldn't drop the GPL code! Posted via the Android Central App
  • On the flip side, if they are planning to update to L why no dev preview? Though to answer my own question, you only need one nexus phone and one nexus tablet to fulfill the intended purpose of the dev preview. The nexus 4 WILL get L though, it just may not be an official build. Posted via Android Central App
  • i only run official Google software.
    so now that i think about it, I wasn't crazy about the look of L anyway.
    4.4.4 isn't a bad place to be stuck if Nexus 4 doesn't get L.
    So when Google says they want the low end hard ware to be able to run Kitkat, is that different with L or do they mean Just this years Low end stuff.
    Its a speculation piece, but it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
  • Well, given that they've never released dev previews before (as I understand it), it stands to reason that they wouldn't release it for very many devices. I keep thinking about Apple, though... they release a hobbled update for their older hardware for about three years; I would think Google could stick it to them by being known for fully supporting their older hardware for more than 18 months, and the fact of the matter is that the N4 has too much hardware behind it to be ignored, especially if we compare it to the current Nexus (similar procs, same number of cores, same RAM, etc.).
  • I'm hoping my original xperia Z will get updated, but I won't hold my breath. The kit kat update took a while to come, I can see them not bothering with L. I still love this phone though, and don't plan on upgrading just yet, so I might go down the romming route. Posted via Android Central App
  • It will be very lame of Sony to do this considering that the HTC One M7 which was released in the same timeframe as the Z is getting L Posted via Android Central App on Google Nexus 7 2013
  • But Sony have released one and a half times at least or double depending on IFA next month the flagships of HTC in that time. 3 or 4 to HTC's 2. Not counting the max or mini lines.
  • If it doesn't happen then ROM the phone. Posted via Android Central App
  • I'd like to think Sony would try to get L on the original Xperia Z. Should be more than capable of running it, but for sure the Z1, Z2 and Z3 devices will be higher up the list. Posted via Android Central App
  • Jerry, can you expand a little more on why you don't think the Nexus 10 tablet will see Android L? I know there are rumors a new tablet will replace the Nexus 10 but if you think discontinued Play Edition phones would get L, why not this stalwart of a tablet as well? Thx
  • The Nexus 10 processor is really bad! It's only a dual core. Look at what happened when they tried to update it to the KitKat version. It couldn't even get the translucent bar and there were so many bugs! So trying to update it to Android L will be really tricky! Posted via Android Central App
  • L is designed to run on lower hardware, is it not? Plus Google still shows the Nexus 10 in the Play Store (granted it's out of stock), but if they are no longer planning to sell it, wouldn't they remove the listing? I can't imagine they'd pass over a Nexus device still listed in the store.
  • Wasn't kit kat designed to run on as little as 512 mb devices? The nexus 10 kit kat update was so bad that it didn't get the translucent bar? Neither did the 2nd Gen nexus 7 but it's getting L... Again what are these hardware limitations you speak of? Kit kat was hailed as an os that was very efficient. Next-us
  • I have Kit Kat on my 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of flash Nexus 10 and the bugs are just as common on my 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of flash Nexus 5, Kit Kat is designed to take low specs, funny thing is, my N10 has almost as much spare RAM as my Nexus 5. Yes the processor is weak, runs high resolution video well, but lacks the responsiveness, of my N5 in gaming, but it's 22 months old, at $300 AUS, for QHD and Kit Kat cheap, probably get L sometime, but it's obviously not going to be the same type of L as on a 4 GB of RAM, 192 GPU, 64 bit chipped device. It won't be first cab off the rank, that'll be the Nex 6 and 8, which are likely to be 64 bit, possibly QHD, high in RAM and flash, then Nex 5, 7 FHD, I'll be selling my stuff, if I can get a 64 bit, QHD, high memory, but once I have one, the other one won't be a high speed priority.
  • The translucent decor works just fine on nexus 10. They also took away the tablet design in the settings menu but we've all chalked it up to douche baggery at this point. None of it involved bugs. And lol ONLY dual core! Posted via Android Central App
  • A dual-core that was more powerful than the quad-cores that came out before it. It was the best processor available when it came out. Plus I had no bugs when my N10 got KitKat. Your logic is flawed on so many levels. Posted via Android Central App
  • I don't agree with the part about Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 (2012). Binaries for Android L for both of these devices are out. http://www.slashgear.com/nexus-7-4-10-may-yet-get-an-android-l-update-30... Why would Google do that if they weren't planning on updating these devices to Android L? Posted via Android Central App
  • KitKat runs pretty well on the OMAP inside the Galaxy Nexus, too. I just have a feeling Google isn't going to spend time or money on updating a two year old phone.
  • But they have. No use pushing code if they weren't going to update. Posted via the Android Central App
  • As opposed to a year and a half old tablet with really similar internals? I think that last bit might be the N4's saving grace here, a lot of the work required will have to get done either way... Washing away some of the Galaxy Nexus memories won't hurt either.
  • I also have a 2012 nexus 7. Maybe that will get it, maybe it wont. But I don't really care to be honest. It's not the best performing device in the world anymore and an update to L might make it worse. Posted via Android Central App
  • if this is true, google will stop 3 nexus devices at once. I think that is impossible... (and i hope I'm right)
  • There is a difference between stopping a device and not releasing an update to the next version of Android...
  • i think you know what i meant...
  • Right I know, and sorry I came off like a dick. But if you look at previous timelines the same has been done before to prior nexus devices so it wouldn't be too surprising this time around either. Posted via Android Central App
  • OH and you called me a jerk a little ways down :-)
  • Only a few more Nexus devices to kill off and all will be right in the world. Well at least one phone
  • Such a jerk haha Posted via Android Central App
  • Love my Nexus tablet though! All the phones need to go...
  • I cant wait for my NEXUS ONE to get the L update! No other phone compares to my N1!
  • G1 is better
  • My Optimus G is still on Jellybean 4.1.2 and the G2 will be lucky if it gets L. Maybe LG will update the G2 from 4.4.2 to 4.4.4 if they feel generous. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't know about carrier models but the rollout has already begun in some places http://www.androidorigin.com/lg-optimus-g-kitkat-update-android-4-4-2-ota/
  • Sprint and AT&T are most of the delay. The rest of the world got updated to 4.2 or 4.3 a long time ago. I guess Sprint and AT&T consider the Optimus G to be a bastard child. Posted from my LG LS970 via "The Force"
  • Now that it has been lapped twice over i can see that, hope it comes for you soon
  • I just got my G2 a few weeks before the G3 was released. The price drop tipped it for me. But if LG skips the G2 this is the last LG phone for me. I'll go back to Sammy or on to Moto
  • I am hoping that LG will not skip the G2, but I have a feeling that they will or maybe just the VZW version. Every other carrie's LG G2 has been updated withthe knock on lock screen codes, so maybe those carriers will get their phones up to Android L. I really hope the New Moto x+1 has some good specks cause I know a phone like that will receive the next updates for at least a few years. That may be my next phone.
  • G2 is barely a year old. I am guessing that it will get the L release
  • It's barely a year old now...but remember, L isn't going to come until Oct/Nov. That will put the device at 11-13 months old at that point. So honestly, it could go either way. It could also be a thing where they update the non-carrier, unlocked European/Korean G2s, but the US versions won't get it due to the carriers not being interested in the update.
  • I still cannot see them skipping it. I would say that I would be shocked if they did. Now the carrier thing...maybe...that is more likely but I still am not sure..
  • People would be furious at LG if it didn't happen and LG would tell them it's all the carriers fault. That would be a massive storm for the USA carriers. Posted via Android Central App
  • And they will wipe away the tears with $100s
  • LOL, exactly. The carriers could not possibly give less of a crap what their customers think. They really and truly despise their customers who actually want service and software updates, it's just their wallets that the carriers love.
  • Doesn't matter who's fault it is, it will stop sales of LG phones on whatever carrier is to blame. Is LG willing to risk it? Granted at this stage in the smartphone game, just how important are these "updates"?
  • Updates are more important than they've ever been, I think. I don't think anyone cared nearly as much about updates in the past than they do now. On top of that, more people than ever are using smartphones.
  • Why? Outside of security patches, the AOSP has not contributed as much to the as OEMs have by a long stretch. Butter was nice, Project Svelte did nothing for devices that were released already, Project volta may add 10% to the battery life. What is there to die for?
  • Outside of security, as Jerry rightly said Google Play Services does a lot in the background, so not too much, without a 64 bit chip, don't like company skin though, 2/3 of all security holes according to MIT, eats RAM and flash, for what? A real pain on my sisters original Jelly Bean 1 Note 1, had to do RAM work, factory reset and apply move to SD card.
  • Have you used the L preview on anything? I'm using it on my N7, and I'm actually pretty hopeful that Volta will make a sizeable difference. My standby time is *significantly* better than it was with 4.4, and that had been one of my big sticking points with 4.4 devices. Posted via Android Central App
  • I put it on my Nexus 7 (the initial preview) but admittedly do not use it as much as my other tablet. I really have not seen a huge jump, but there is a jump. I am not sure that I would go as high a significantly... Even so, I have to say it is a "OMG I MUST HAVE IT" update
  • The G2 is not even a year old yet, can't put in September last year. Posted via Android Central App
  • Well I went by announced date...
  • Yeah I'm in your same position. They have to compete with other companies. If owners find out that they don't support past users well they'll stop buying their products Posted via Android Central App
  • G2 ll get L update, don't worry Posted via the Android Central App
  • The oppo find 5 latest update is on 4.2.2 jelly bean of course it won't get Android L that's for sure. And probably the find7 also will not get Android L even though it is a very capable smartphone.
  • That is one of my faults with the company (scam) that is Oppo and OnePlus. I can very well see the support being non- exsistent on ColorOS and the one "L" release being CM. Not so sure that is gonna go either since they cannot officially release Kit Kat yet...They are a cluster....
  • What does OnePlus have to do with that? Posted via Android Central App
  • We are talking about OPPO