Android, first released in 2008, is still a relatively young operating system. However, with some years seeing multiple updates, there have been plenty of Android versions to look at. Some were better than others, so let’s rank the 10 greatest.
The Ranking Criteria
Ultimately, any “best” list is going to come down to the author’s preference, and this list will be no different.
As a long-time Android user—going all the way back to Android 1.5—I have experience with nearly every version of Android. Android makes things complicated, though. My experience with Android on a Pixel could be very different than someone else’s experience with the same version on a Samsung phone.
I won’t be simply ranking the versions based on which has the best features, as that would skew heavily toward the newest versions. Rather, I’ll be considering the impact that each release had on the platform as a whole.
Will you probably agree with my list entirely? Nope! Let’s begin.
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#10: Android 5.0 Lollipop
Let’s start at the bottom of the list with a controversial Android version. Released in 2014, Android 5.0 Lollipop gave us our first taste of “Material Design.” This marked yet another major design revamp for Android, but one that has arguably aged the best.
Beyond aesthetic changes, there were some major things happening under the surface, too. Android switched from Dalvik to ART (Android Runtime), which improved the performance of apps. That’s why most Android apps today support Android 5.0 and above.
While Lollipop looked greaton the surface, it was plagued by bugs. Memory management was a mess on many devices, causing apps to be closed in the background too often. There were also many annoyances with the new notification system.
Lollipop was important for the future of Android, but it had a lot of hiccups.
#9: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Speaking of bugs, let’s talk about the version that fixed a lot of Lollipop’s issues. Released in 2015, Android 6.0 Marshmallow didn’t have the fanfare of other releases, but it was sneakily very important.
Marshmallow introduced a major change in how Android handles app permissions. Rather than asking you to grant all permissions at the time of installing the app, you can grant them as needed. That means that you’re only giving an app access to, for example, your files if you specifically do something that requires that permission.
#8: Android 7.0-7.1 Nougat
Android 7.0 Nougat was released in 2016 and it was another refining update. By this time, Material Design was becoming more polished and fleshed out. Android had a nice, consistent look.
Nougat finally brought split-screen mode to “stock” Android. Before this, phone makers had implemented their own methods for split-screen mode, but Nougat made it a standard feature. This release also made “Doze,” a feature intended to save battery life, work a little better.
Perhaps the biggest thing that Nougat brought was Google Assistant. This was the version of Android that launched on Google’s first Pixel phone, and it was tightly integrated with the operating system. Google Assistant now comes on all Android devices by default.
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#7: Android 9 Pie
When Android 9 Pie was released in 2018, the reception to it was mixed. For the first time, Android didn’t have a Recents/Overview button. The navigation consisted of a pill-shaped home button for gestures and a small contextual back button.
While the half-baked gestures were soon replaced with Android 10, some other features had a more lasting impact. Digital Wellbeing, a suite of tools to help people form better usage habits, was included for the first time. Machine learning-powered battery saving and screen brightness were also introduced.
A big part of Android Pie was privacy. Android got better control over when apps could access your camera and microphone. There were a lot of little things that greatly improved the overall privacy and security of the operating system.
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#6: Android 2.0-2.1 Eclair
By far the oldest entry on this list, Android 2.0 Eclair was released in 2009 just six weeks after Android 1.6. This was a monumental update for the operating system at the time.
Eclair introduced many things that we take for granted today: Voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation in Google Maps, live wallpapers, speech-to-text, and even pinch-to-zoom. (Yes, Android didn’t have pinch-to-zoom at first.)
If you were an Android user at this time, Eclair was the update. I still remember when my HTC Eris got the update and I could use the navigation in Google Maps. It was legitimately life-changing. And can you imagine using a phone without pinch-to-zoom?
#5: Android 4.1-4.3 Jelly Bean
Android Jelly Bean contained three updates from 2012 to 2013. Coming from the major design overhaul in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean was all about refinement.
One of the most notable features in Jelly Bean was the introduction of the Quick Settings panel. This is a feature that has become standard on almost all smartphones. It brought several toggles that were buried in the settings out to a more convenient place.
Jelly Bean was also our first taste of “Google Now,” which has since been abandoned. The concept of predictive information that could help you throughout the day was pretty incredible at the time. It stuck around for a while, but was eventually replaced by Google Assistant.
Another cool feature from Jelly Bean that Google has since abandoned was Lock Screen Widgets. It was neat to have quick access to handy widgets without having to unlock your phone, but maybe not so easy for the average consumer to use.
#4: Android 4.4 KitKat
In 2013, Google released the first branded version of Android, 4.4 KitKat. Previous versions of Android had become dark with neon highlights. KitKat took things in the opposite direction with light backgrounds and muted highlights.
This was the first version of Android that had a transparent status bar at the top of the home screen. It also marked the switch to single-color icons in the status bar, which in this case was white. These small aesthetic changes made the notification area look a lot cleaner.
KitKat was the first version of Android that supported the “OK Google” wake commands. At this time, it only worked with the screen on, but it was an important beginning step for what would eventually become Google Assistant.
Android fans may remember KitKat as the version that launched on the Nexus 5. To this day, the Nexus 5 is arguably the most beloved smartphone that Google has released. It was a great marriage between software and hardware.
#3: Android 10
Android 10, released in 2019, was the first version to drop the dessert nicknames. This signaled that Google was hoping to take Android in a more “mature” direction.
The most noticeable change in Android 10 was the full-screen gesture navigation. Android Pie started the transition away from a navigation bar and buttons, but Android 10 fully realized it. For the first time, Android didn’t have “Home” and “Back” buttons.
Another big addition in Android 10 was the system-wide dark theme. By flipping a switch, you can control the theme of any app that supports the system setting. No more choosing themes on an app-by-app basis (unless you really want to). Android’s base color had slowly become quite white and bright, so this was a very welcomed feature.
Android 10 had many features, but another important one was better control over permissions. Users finally got more control over which apps could access their locations. This is something Google has been working on quite a bit in recent years, and Android 10 was a big step forward.
#2: Android 8.0-8.1 Oreo
Released in 2017, Android Oreo didn’t bring a massive design revamp, but it was quietly one of the most stable and refined versions of the operating system. This was the second time that Google went with a brand for the dessert nickname.
Android Oreo wasn’t short on features, though. Picture-in-picture became a native feature, Notification Channels brought tons of customizations to notifications, and even selecting text got new options.
Perhaps one of the most convenient features to ever come to Android was introduced with Oreo: Password Autofill. Just like in the Chrome browser, Android could remember your login for apps, making it drastically easier to use apps and set up new devices.
Android Oreo also introduced Project Treble, which promised to improve the update situation that has plagued Android for years. Four years later, has it made a difference? Probably not as much as Google had hoped.
Oh, and RIP to the blob emojis.
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#1: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Ice Cream Sandwich was released in 2011, and diehard Android fans will remember it as a pretty big deal. This was the first time that Android actually looked like a modern operating system thanks to the newly hired design chief Matias Duarte.
Android 3.0 Honeycomb, which was only for tablets, introduced the neon “Holo UI.” Ice Cream Sandwich (commonly called “ICS”) refined the Holo UI and brought it to phones, unifying the two device categories. Not everyone is a fan of how Google merged tablets and phones, but it was unquestionably a major change for the platform.
Ice Cream Sandwich brought richer notifications that could be swiped away for the first time in Android’s history. Honeycomb’s revamped and more visual Recents menu was brought over. Face Unlock was added as a new security method.
It really can’t be emphasized enough how big of a deal the Holo UI was for Android. Before it, Android didn’t really have a design language. It was very basic and looked like something designed for developers. Ice Cream Sandwich finally made it seem more friendly to use.
Ice Cream Sandwich was launched on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Android nerds drooled over thehype video for the release. This was when it felt like Android finally grew up and Google was taking it seriously as a mainstream operating system.
This was a difficult list to put together, and it could be made in a completely different order with valid arguments. Every Android release has added something important, but some had bigger impacts overall. Hopefully, the next big feature is just around the corner.
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What is the 10 version of Android? ›
Android 10 (codenamed Android Q or Android Queen Cake during development) is the tenth major release and the 17th version of the Android mobile operating system. It was first released as a developer preview on March 13, 2019, and was released publicly on September 3, 2019.What are the list of Android versions? ›
|Name||Internal codename||Latest Google Play Services version (release date)|
|Android Froyo||Froyo||3.2.25 (October 2014)|
|Android Gingerbread||Gingerbread||10.0.84 (November 2016)|
What is Android 9.0 “Pie”? It is the sixth major release and ninth version of the Android OS (Operating System), and it came into the public domain on 6 Aug 2018. Succeeded by the Android 10 and preceded by the “Oreo” Android 8.1, the Android 9.0 was earlier named Android P.How many versions of Android are there? ›
The latest version of Android OS is 12, released in October 2021. Learn more about OS 12, including its key features. Older versions of Android include: Tiramisu (OS 13)What is the fastest Android version? ›
Based on its AnTuTu score, the iQOO 11 5G could be the fastest Android handset around. One of the new Android phones powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset is the iQOO 11 5G.What is the oldest Android version? ›
Android made its official public debut in 2008 with Android 1.0 — a release so ancient it didn't even have a cute codename.What's better Android 11 or 12? ›
At a glance, Android 12 is more customizable and personalized for you, and has a heavier focus on performance and privacy than Android 11. If you're familiar with Apple's personalization tools in its latest iOS versions, that seems to be what Google is trying to emulate in its Android 12 release.What is 12 Android version called? ›
Android 12 (codenamed internally as Android Snow Cone)is the twelfth major release and 19th version of Android, the mobile operating system developed by the Open Handset Alliance led by Google.What is the latest Android version? ›
Android 12 is designed for your safety. With new easy-to-use, powerful privacy features, you'll have peace of mind knowing that you have control over who can see your data and when.What is the name of the latest Android version? ›
Android 13 is the latest version of Android, and it was released on August 15, 2022.
What Android is most popular? ›
|Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G||2.6 %|
|Google Pixel 2||2.0 %|
|Samsung Galaxy A32 5G||2.0 %|
Android 13 (codenamed internally as Android Tiramisu ) is the thirteenth major release of the Android mobile operating system, developed by Google, released for the public on August 15, 2022. Android 13.Is Android 9.0 Pie any good? ›
The Bottom Line. The latest update to Android (9.0 Pie) brings smart quality-of-life improvements that really work, along with visual tweaks that freshen up an already solid mobile operating system. PCMag editors select and review products independently.What version of Android is Lollipop? ›
Welcome to Android 5.0 Lollipop—the largest and most ambitious release for Android yet! This release is packed with new features for users and thousands of new APIs for developers. It extends Android even further, from phones, tablets, and wearables, to TVs and cars.Is Android Oreo outdated? ›
|Preceded by||Android 7.1.2 "Nougat"|
|Succeeded by||Android 9 "Pie"|
Android 14 is internally known as Upside-Down Cake, but the official naming will most certainly remain Android 14. After a brief hiatus, we're back with the sweet dessert names for Android, at least in terms of codenames. The naming scheme dates back more than a decade and uses dessert names in alphabetical order.What is the most powerful Android? ›
Best Android phone overall: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Considering that Samsung's Galaxy S21 and S22 Ultra held this spot for almost all of 2021 and 2022, Samsung didn't need to do much for the Galaxy S23 Ultra to claim this spot immediately upon release, particularly in the U.S. market.
- Doogee S96 GT. Best rugged phone with an impressive AI Quad Camera array. ...
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- AGM Glory G1 Pro. ...
- Ulefone Armor 11T 5G. ...
- Doogee S98 Pro. ...
- Nokia XR20. ...
- CAT S42 H+ ...
- Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro.
Which mobile phones have the longest updates? As of April 2022, Samsung S10 and Note 10 series holds the longest Android OS supported versions which was from Android 9 up to the current Android 12. It is expected that these series will receive an additional security update for next 2023 to 2024.Which Android version is outdated? ›
As of October 2022, 4.8% of devices ran Android Nougat, with 3.1% on 7.0, and 2.2% on 7.1. x. Android Nougat went unsupported with no more security updates after October 2019.
Is Android 10 too old? ›
For reference, the last supported version is Android 10, which is likely to reach end of life in September 2022, when Google is expected to announce Android 13.What are the last four major versions of Android? ›
All android versions are Alpha, Beta, Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, Android KitKat, Android Lollipop and Android Marshmallow, Android Naougat, Android Oreo, Android Pie, Android 10 & Android 11.Is Android 13 good? ›
Thoughtful refinements to Material You make Android 13 an excellent foundation for years to come. New permission dialogs and more granular file access for apps make Android 13 even more secure than its predecessors. Per-app language options finally put Android up to par with iOS' long-existing multilingual feature.Is Android 13 out? ›
Android 13 has officially been released to the public. Google officially announced the stable version of the new OS on August 15th, after months of testing. Eligible Pixel smartphones were the first devices to get the Android 13 update.Is Android 13 better than 12? ›
No list of differences between Android 12 and 13 would be complete without mentioning language preferences. A big new Android 13 feature for multilingual users, Google's latest update includes per-app language personalization for those who want to have apps display in different languages.What is the latest Android version 2023? ›
Timeline, milestones, and updates. The Android 14 Preview program runs from February 2023 until the final public release to AOSP and OEMs, planned for later in the year.How to get Android 13 on Samsung? ›
- Open the Settings app on the Samsung Galaxy phone.
- Scroll down and select Software update.
- Tap Download and install.
- Wait until the device checks for the latest update.
- Tap Install now if the Android 13 update is available.
Google no longer labels Android versions with dessert names for the public. The last version that had such a name was Android 9 that was also known as Android Pie. But when the Android version reached a two-digit number, as in Android 10, Google resorted to keeping it simple by dropping dessert names.What is Android version 9 called? ›
Android Pie (codenamed Android P during development), also known as Android 9 (API 28) is the ninth major release and the 16th version of the Android mobile operating system.Which phone is mostly used in USA? ›
According to the latest data on smartphone market shares in the US, as of December 2022, Apple has the biggest piece of the pie, with 55.79%. In other words, more than half of all smartphones sold there are manufactured by Apple. Apple has a strong lead over its closest rival, Samsung.
Which phone has best camera quality? ›
Expert comment: Currently the Vivo X80 Pro is arguably the best phone in the market for photography. It has a superlative camera array consisting of a 50MP Samsung GNV sensor, a 48MP ultra-wide shooter and a 5X persicope lens.Is there an Android 14? ›
You can easily download Android Developer Preview 2, and be sure to check out our guide on how to install Android 14 if you're unsure of how to do so. Google is officially releasing this developer preview update for the Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel 7, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 6, Pixel 5a 5G, Pixel 5, and Pixel 4a (5G).Is Android 13 a redneck? ›
Android 13 (人造人間１３号) is a redneck. He is Dr. Gero's thirteenth android creation. He was initially designed to serve Dr. Gero's vendetta against Goku, who overthrew the Red Ribbon Army as a child. He is the main antagonist of the movie Super Android 13.How much RAM does Android 13 need? ›
Android 13 raises minimum system requirement to 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage.Is Android 10 or 11 better? ›
While Android version 10 introduced features like focus mode and dark mode, the Android 11 update adds up to these features by allowing users to modify them further. As a result, Android users can have a much more personalized experience with Android 11 as the OS can be customized to their own tastes.What is Android version 12 called? ›
Android 12 (codenamed internally as Android Snow Cone)is the twelfth major release and 19th version of Android, the mobile operating system developed by the Open Handset Alliance led by Google.How do I know if I have Android 9 or 10? ›
- Open your phone's Settings app.
- Near the bottom, tap About phone. Android version.
- Find your "Android version," "Android security update," and "Build number."
Adaptive battery and automatic brightness adjust functionality, improved battery life and level up in Pie. Android 10 has introduced dark mode and modify adaptive battery setting even better. Hence Android 10's battery consumption is less compared to Android 9.Which is best Android 10 11 or 12? ›
At a glance, Android 12 is more customizable and personalized for you, and has a heavier focus on performance and privacy than Android 11. If you're familiar with Apple's personalization tools in its latest iOS versions, that seems to be what Google is trying to emulate in its Android 12 release.Is Android 12 good or bad? ›
Android 12 review: Verdict
Google went all out to make the new version appeal to more people, especially with the Material You theming system. While the rounded aesthetic is a bit extreme in some places, I think Android is in a good spot visually. Of course, there's always room for improvement.
Is Android 12 better than Android 11? ›
At a glance, Android 12 is more customizable and personalized for you, and has a heavier focus on performance and privacy than Android 11. If you're familiar with Apple's personalization tools in its latest iOS versions, that seems to be what Google is trying to emulate in its latest Android version.What is Android 13 version called? ›
Android 13 (codenamed internally as Android Tiramisu ) is the thirteenth major release of the Android mobile operating system, developed by Google, released for the public on August 15, 2022.What phones will get Android 13? ›
Google confirmed that all Pixel devices from the Pixel 4 will get Android 13. This means the Pixel 4, 4XL, 4a, 4a 5G, 5, 5a, 6, 6a, and 6 Pro. The 3a and 3a XL have seen their final updates, while the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro will launch with Android 13 onboard.Is Android 9.0 Pie the latest version? ›
|General availability||August 6, 2018|
|Final release||9.0.0_r76 (PSV1.210329.021) / January 4, 2022|
Based on its AnTuTu score, the iQOO 11 5G could be the fastest Android handset around. One of the new Android phones powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset is the iQOO 11 5G.Which is better Android 10 or Android 10 go? ›
With Android 10 (Go Edition), Google says it has improved the operating system's speed and security. App switching is now faster and more memory efficient, and apps should launch 10 percent faster than they did on the last version of the OS.