How to check what version of the Android OS a phone is running on

Updated Oct 2014: Do you want to know what Android version is currently running on your phone? Nothing simpler… all you have to do is go into the phones Settings > Tap About phone > if the Android version doesn’t appear on this page then you might need to tap on Software information > and the Android version will be listed with a number underneath or next to it and that will be the version of the Android OS (Operating System) that is currently running on your smartphone.

Update: If your phone is currently running on the Android 4.0 or later then you might need to go into your Settings make sure that the More tab is selected (upper right) and then select About device. Your version of Android will be shown under the About device options.

Please also note that some of the older Android phones might say Firmware version instead of Android version.

Here is a list of Operating Systems for Android Smartphones including both the version number and the nickname associated with it:

  • Cupcake: Android 1.5
  • Donut: Android 1.6
  • Éclair: Android 2.0 - 2.1
  • Froyo: Android 2.2
  • Gingerbread: Android 2.3.3 - 2.3.7
  • Honeycomb: Android 3.0
  • Ice Cream Sandwich: Android 4.0 - 4.0.4
  • Jelly Bean: Android 4.1 - 4.3.1
  • KitKat: Android 4.4 - 4.4.4
  • Lollipop: Android 5.0

Your Android version number is probably going to have 3 digits separated by dots. For example a software version of the Froyo Android OS might read 2.2.1 instead of just 2.2.

Why is the Android version important?

Why is it so important to know what version of the Android Operating System your phone is running on? The number one reason is to make sure that your phone is up to date. The more up to date your smartphones Operating System is, the smoother it should run and the more features your phone will have.

The software version effects navigation

The version of the phones operating system will also affect how you navigate the phone and how your phones information is arranged and accessed. For example…

If you wanted to factory data reset the Samsung Galaxy Note (I717) running on its original 2.3 Gingerbread Operating System then you would proceed using the following steps.

  • From the home screen you would tap the Menu key.
  • Tap Settings.
  • Scroll to and tap Privacy.
  • Tap Factory data reset.
  • Tap the Check box next to Format USB storage.
  • Tap Reset phone.
  • Then Tap Erase everything.

If you wanted to perform a factory data reset on the Samsung Galaxy Note (I717), the same exact phone, only running on the 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich then the steps would be slightly different.

  • From the home screen you would tap the Menu key.
  • Tap Settings.
  • Scroll to and tap Back up and reset.
  • Tap Factory data reset.
  • Tap the Check box next to Format USB storage.
  • Tap Reset device.
  • Then Tap Delete all.

Now this is just a very minor example but as you can see the OS can effects how you do things on your phone, it can also affect how things are displayed, arranged, accessed, transferred, etc. So keep that in mind if your following instructions online on how to do something on your phone and the instructions don’t match what you see on your screen. You might just be reading the instructions intended for a different version of that phones operating system.

How to Upgrade your phones OS

How to upgrade your phone to the latest Operating System is a whole different animal all together. Some phones can update OTA (Over The Air) by connecting to a Wi-Fi (Wireless Internet) and then doing a search for updates. This method is typically used for HTC smartphones and many other brands running on the Android OS and should be the norm in a few years.

Some phones you will have to actually connect to a computer to do an update. This is typical of Samsung phones and Samsung does release updates for their phones frequently (which is awesome). If you are looking to upgrade your Samsung phone then download the Samsung Kies program from Samsungs website at http://www.samsung.com/us/kies/ and it will have you connect your device, it will search for updates, and then allow you to upgrade your phone.

In any case, you will usually get a notification on your phone letting you know that there is an update available and how to perform the update.

Software upgrade tips

  • Backup your phone and make sure to save your information before doing the update (just in case).
  • You might want to wait a week or two before downloading and installing any brand new updates, just in case they missed any bugs. That way they have a chance to catch any bugs or glitches and put a hold the update or apply a patch (pretty rare but you never know).
  • Do NOT unplug the phone during a software update.
  • Do NOT power off the phone or computer during an update.
  • It’s recommended that you charge your battery to full or at the very least 80% before doing an update.
  • Try not to update your phone during a storm or during a time when you think that the power might go out.
  • Updating can take a while depending on the phone that you’re upgrading. If you’re going to need your phone 30 minutes after starting the update then it might not be available to use. Try and perform the update when you have plenty of time to let the update completely install.
  • Let the upgrade finish.

For more advice about upgrading check out how to avoid issues when updating or upgrading an Android smartphone.

Keep everything on your phone updated

Keeping your phones operating system up to date is important but don’t forget to update your applications as well, especially right after updating your phone. Having up to date applications will also keep your phone running smooth and functioning properly.

Problems after updating your smartphone

I have seen phones that seem to have problems or issues after being updated. I’m not simply referring to bricked phones due to unplugging the device during the update. Or even the rare software bug on brand new updates. If you have an old application on the phone it might not be getting along with the new operating system. If your device has any issues after updating then I recommend you remove your applications and see if it helps. If it doesn’t help then I recommend you factory data reset your device. Don’t worry the reset wont remove the new OS from the device just follow these instructions on how to reset an android phone and you should be good to go.

Conclusion

In conclusion keeping your phone up to date is always a good idea. So check often and enjoy.

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