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Thursday, 30 April 2020 15:30

What Makes an Android Phone "Android"?

Written by Eugene Foygelman, Production Coordinator
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Since I deal with technology at my job, people regularly ask me for help with their phones. When they ask me for help, the first thing I say is: “Do you have an iPhone or an Android?” If they have an Android, they usually look a little confused. They might answer that they have a Samsung device or sometimes that they don’t know. I wanted to write this blog post to hopefully clear things up about what makes an Android phone an Android.


So what is Android? Simple answer is that it is a mobile phone Operating System (OS) originally created by Android Inc. in 2003, which was then bought up by Google in 2005.


Who develops Android? Google does. Google develops Android OS and releases a new version each year. Google has kept Android as an open source software, which means that anybody can use the original code, modify that code, and release that code on their device. This aspect is the most important one because it is the reason as to why so many companies use Android and why it’s so different depending on the company making the phone. So what companies use Android? Well...


samsung android phoneA Samsung phone that runs on Android. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Some of the phone manufacturers that use Android OS (in no specific order): Samsung, LG, Google, Sony, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Lenovo, Amazon, Asus, ZTE, and HTC. 


All of these manufacturers put their own spin on the Android OS for their phones. Once Google releases a major version update (like the switch from Android 10 to 11 that’s expected later this year), all of these companies take that code and add their own features. Samsung devices will have software features that Google and LG phones won’t have and vice versa. This is also why you’ll find that Android software updates are scattered. Google is able to release their version the fastest because they make it, but they typically also have fewer features than Samsung devices. However, you have a better chance of getting longer support on a Google phone than one made by LG or another company.


So why do so many people confuse Samsung with Android in particular, or just refer to their phone software as “Samsung?” It’s simple; market share. Samsung owns a little over 42% of the entire Android phone market globally. (The second biggest is China’s Huawei with almost 13%.) Samsung is the biggest phone manufacturer in the world, even beating Apple. Because of their size as a company, they’ve had the resources to experiment with their devices and to heavily advertise them. Their resources have enabled them to become the de facto brand in the US when it comes to Android.


To summarize, the basics of Android are this; if you have a smartphone that isn’t made by Apple, you’re using Android. Depending on who makes your specific phone though, your Android experience can vary widely. 


Hopefully, this cleared up the Android picture a little bit. There’s a lot more to this subject than what I’ve written here so I encourage you to do even more reading about Android OS.


Bonus fun fact: The first device to run Android wasn’t released until 2008, and it wasn’t made by Google! The Taiwanese company HTC released the HTC Dream, which ran on Android and was a small touch-screen device with a sliding keyboard.


Read 686 times Last modified on Friday, 15 May 2020 13:46

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