How-To Geek

How to Check for System Updates on an Android Phone

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When a new version of Android comes out for your phone, it doesn’t usually drop for everyone at once. Instead, it rolls out over time. However, you can easily check to see if it’s available on your device instead of simply waiting for a notification to show up.

Android is designed to keep an eye on Google’s update servers for each specific model. When a new version is released, you should receive a notification within a few days that the update is available to download. This notification appears like any other notification in the notification tray—tap it to install the new version.

However, you won’t necessarily see this notification immediately, even though you may have read about a new update being rolled our to your device.

To have Android manually check for updates, you first need to jump into the Settings menu. Pull down the notification shade and tap the cog icon to get started.

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In the Settings menu, scroll all the way down to “About phone,” then jump in there.

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The top option here is “System updates.” Tap that.

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It should tell you that your system is up to date here, along with when it last checked for an update. Depending on the device you’re using, this screen may look slightly different, but the idea is still the same. There’s a button that reads “Check for update.” Tap that little guy.

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The system will take a few seconds to hit up the servers to see if there’s anything available for your specific device.

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Ideally, this will find the new system update and prompt you to “Download and install” it. If that’s the case, it’s your lucky day—go ahead and roll with it!

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If no update is available, well, it’ll basically just throw you back into the first screen that showed the system as up-to-date. Better luck next time.

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Note: This article used to contain an unconfirmed trick for “forcing” Android to check for updates by force stopping the Google Services Framework and clearing its data. This trick is no longer reliable, so we’ve removed it. However, if you just can’t handle the wait (and you’re using a Nexus or Pixel device), you can always skip the line or manually flash the update yourself.

Cameron Summerson is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, metalhead, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys on the 'net, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, chugging away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

  • Published 02/20/13

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