Google teased its new software update, previously known as the Android L Preview, back at the I/O 2014 developer conference back in June. It showed off new features a new and improved recent apps menu, lock screen notifications, and Project Volta, meant to improve battery life. Among the most important changes, however, is the all new design language, called Material Design.
This new interface design is meant to make the UI react to the user’s input the same way their analog – or material – counterparts would in the real world. There is depth and a visible hierarchy to the way Android looks now.
Two weeks ago, Google officially announced the final version of the developer preview we first saw back in June, and it finally put an end to the speculation about the nickname of the newest iteration of Android. It is now officially Android version 5.0, also known as Lollipop.
The pressing question everyone has been asking since I/O, however, is when this new version of Android would arrive and, more importantly, when will it be available to all the non-Nexus devices out there?
Below, I have compiled a list of all the major Android partner OEMs and their rollout plans for Android Lollipop to all their most important devices.
Android Lollipop update: Nexus phones and tablets
Naturally, Nexus devices are almost always first in line to get the updates. They are, after all, co-branded by Google and the partner OEM, and they always come with unadulterated, stock Android. That gives the OEMs early access to the source and minimizes the effort of getting this new vanilla software on old hardware.
But that doesn’t Nexus devices will all get Android 5.0 at the same time.
November 3 is when the new pair of Nexus devices hit – the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9. Obviously, they ship running the latest version of Android. But it could be days or weeks before existing Nexus phones and tablets are updated. There is a rumor stating Wi-Fi models of the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 will receive their updates on November 3, as well, but for now it’s just a rumor.
Android Lollipop update: Motorola
Of all the manufacturers out there, Motorola was one of the most forward with its update plans.
Motorola has a knack for usually being one of the fastest to upgrade the software on its phones, especially in the last two years. That’s due in part to how lightweight Motorola’s changes are to the stock interface. As we recently discovered on both the 2014 editions of the Moto X and Moto G, Motorola’s customizations are but a few very helpful features; it practically leaves the UI alone.
Not to mention, the Nexus 6 is made by Motorola, so it’s already had its hands dirty in this new software for several months.
So when will Motorola update its devices to Lollipop, and which ones are on the schedule? The official statement from Motorola’s Nexus 6 announcement reads:
Once Android 5.0 L is officially released, we intend to bring this latest upgrade to many of our other Motorola devices, as well. This includes Moto X (1st and 2nd Gen), Moto G (1st and 2nd Gen), Moto G with 4G LTE, Moto E, Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx and Droid Mini. We’re still working out the details on timing and the upgrade depends on our partners’ support so stay tuned to our software upgrades page for the latest and greatest.
Motorola also includes an update tracker for its devices, which you can find here.
Android Lollipop update: HTC
HTC has taken some pretty major steps in getting new software to its existing customers in a timely manner. As part of the HTC Advantage program, it promises a 90-day turnaround on new software releases and has confirmed that both the One M7 and One M8 will be upgraded in a timely manner, which will then be followed by “other One family members and select devices.”
If you’re one for rumors, LlabTooFer puts some pretty vague timeframes on the updates, stating the One M7 and One M8 should be updated sometime in January or February 2015, while the Google Play editions of those same phones should be updated in November or December of this year. Other new devices, such as the Desire EYE, dual-SIM models of the M7 and M8, One E8, and HTC Butterfly 2 should be updated by March; the HTC One Mini 2 and Desire 816 are allegedly slated to be upgraded between March and April; and the HTC One Max, HTC One Mini, and HTC Butterfly S are looking at an update between March and May.
Of course, none of this is substantiated, so take it for what you will.
Android Lollipop update: LG
LG has been a little vague with details about its Android Lollipop rollout plans, but all reports point to Android 5.0 updates beginning to land in December, at least for the G3. GSMArena reported that an LG representative for Netherlands and Belgium disclosed with TechTastic that the G3 will be updated sometime in December. And the LG Germany Facebook page posted a message stating the G3 will be updated in this quarter, meaning before the year’s end.
The Android Soul claims that LG has confirmed December for its G3, though the AT&T and Verizon models can be expected to face some delays and are said to be getting their updates in January instead. The G2 and G3 s/Beat are said to be getting the Android 5.0 update in January or February, followed by devices like the G Flex, G Pro 2, and G Pro between March and June. Interestingly, the Lucid 3 is not confirmed, nor are the G2 mini, F70, L70, and L90.
Given LG’s update history, this is a major improvement. However, time will tell if LG can stick to such strict deadlines. Pushing out a major point update by the end of the year gives LG just two months to get everything done.
Android Lollipop update: Samsung
Samsung is usually hit or miss with software updates. It usually manages to keep its newest devices pretty current, but the rate at which older devices are updates is dismal.
So far, Samsung has kept mum on the issue, with no official word on dates or which devices will actually see the update.
That said, it’s a safe bet the Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S5 (and its several variants), the Galaxy S4, and most devices under 18-months-old will all receive the update. When the might see it is another matter entirely. Again, rumors claim the S5 will see its update before the end of the year. That particular rumor comes from SamMobile, which has a very solid track record for accurate Samsung rumors and news.
Others predict the Note 4 could also be upgraded in the same timeframe, but that still isn’t taking into consideration the update approval process by the controlling wireless providers stateside.
The Android Soul created a time table on expected arrival dates for the Android 5.0 updates for various Samsung devices, based on its existing history with updates. It expects the Note 4 to be updated in January or February, February or March for Sprint, and March or April for the the AT&T and T-Mobile variants. It should come as no surprise that the Verizon version of the Galaxy Note 4 comes in last with an expected arrival date of May or June. The Galaxy S5 and Note Edge update predictions are virtually identical, while last year’s models of the same devices are expected to lag about three months behind.
Android Lollipop update: Sony Xperia Z devices
Sony is the last of the bunch, but its dedication to firmware updates is inspiring. Shortly after the official Android Lollipop announcement, Sony came forward on its blog and confirmed that the entire Xperia Z family would receive Android 5.0, beginning in 2015.
“We’ll be making Sony Mobile’s Android “L” upgrade available for the entire premium Z series*: including Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia ZR, Xperia Tablet Z, Xperia Z1, Xperia Z1S, Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia Z1 Compact, Xperia Z2, Xperia Z2 Tablet, Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3v, Xperia Z3 Compact and Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. Sony Z Ultra Google Play edition devices will be first up – we’ll be back with more details on that soon.
We’ll start the upgrade at beginning of 2015 for the core Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z2 series – continuing thereafter for all remaining devices above.”
That puts most of its competitors to shame.
The bottom line
Software updates are still, unfortunately, one of the worst parts of the Android experience. Matters have certainly improved over the last three years, but manufacturers still lag behind with updates more often than not.
The bright side is that most OEMs are faster than they’ve ever been at bringing updates. For some OEMs, that’s not saying much. But Motorola, HTC, and Sony have been working hard to make this happen. And lest we forget, if you’re using a carrier-branded smartphone or tablet, especially in the United States, your update will undoubtedly take longer than a global or developer edition of the same phone.
If you have a recent Nexus or a Google Play edition device, it’s pretty safe to assume you will see an official Android Lollipop update before the year’s end. With only an exception for a few phones, most people won’t see Android 5.0 on their devices this year, but updates will begin dropping regularly for many starting in January.