Note: This article is written from the point of view of a USER, not an app dev, therefore ‘fragmentation’ here means untimely or even cancelled updates.

Nowadays, us Aussies are much more likely to win Olympic silver than finding an article comparing Android with other mobile operating systems without mentioning the word ‘fragmentation’ (Still have to say: Well done Sally!). They say: if you buy an Android phone, you have to worry about whether your phone is eligible for future updates, unlike iOS, you are assured that this year’s iPhone would be supported for at least 2 or 3 years. Those articles are absolutely correct, however, there is one type of Android device they forgot: the Nexus line of devices.

Android is NOT fragmented.
Think about this: suppose the only Android device on the market now is the Galaxy Nexus, and all other phones are just compatible with Android apps, then you will see a completely different side of ‘fragmentation’, it simply doesn’t exist! The GN and Nexus S both have the latest release of the OS. So if you want to compare Android with iOS, really, the only devices you should be comparing are the Nexus phones. They represent Android, not phones like SGS3. Sure It’s a good phone but if you buy it, you should be happy with the way it works at the time of purchase, not promised future updates. Fragmentation is a problem for developers, but it is not at the fault of Android, rather, it’s the manufacturers.

The problem:
Other manufacturers like Samsung, who (is forced)  to put proprietary skins and other gizmo on their devices to differentiate from the competition. And that’s why Android is great: it offers choices. Whether it’s 4G or physical keyboard or even gamepads, Android has it covered. The difference in hardware and software make every update a time consuming job for the manufacturers, eg. to port the skin to the latest software and extensive testing to make sure it works the way they intended. This explains the delay in updates and huge amount of devices still on legacy versions of Android.

If you would like an experience like iOS, timely updates and other things alike, buy a Nexus device. Compare the Galaxy Nexus with Apple’s most up to date offering, you will be surprised by how much similarities are shared between them:

Features Galaxy Nexus iPhone 4S
Most up-to-date software Yes Yes
Not the most cutting edge h/w Yes Yes
Pure experiences Yes Yes
Fast update after OS announcement Yes Yes

The Bottom Line:
If you don’t like ‘fragmentation’, go buy a Nexus device.

This article is a guest piece written by Bill Chen. It doesn’t necessarily represent Ausdroid’s opinion, it’s just an interesting take on the fragmentation issue.

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    Why bitch about updates or lack of? If you don’t have a Yakju, Takju or Nakasi your NOT entitled to them. If you have a Nexus and it’s not of the variety listed above, have a cry, Rage at your carrier about being misled and then move on and decide exactly what it is you want from your smartphone… A warranty or bleading edge software. Did anyone buy a Nexus as a fashion accessory or did they buy it because they are an Android nerd? (Self confessed). If your in the second group and moaning then you need a teaspoon… Read more »


    Bull Dust !!!

    Mike Tran

    There’s actually 3 different versions of the Galaxy Nexus
    Toro (CDMA),Maguro (GSM) and Yaku (GSM)

    And each is supported by a different company or carrier.

    So.. There’s no hardware fragmentation on the Nexus line? Think again.


    WRONG. First of all, it’s not Yaku. It’s “yakju”. Second, maguro and yakju are the same devices (yakju IS maguro). There are only TWO “Galaxy Nexus” available, “toro” (CDMA) and “maguro”. CDMA is a lame technology used to achieve vendor lock-in. NEVER use or buy CDMA. Period. Use GSM, the world standard. They actively work with proprietary vendors like Apple, Samsung et al to make it impossible to create an unlocked phone that the user can use everywhere anywhere without hassle. Be a citizen, promote GSM. So, your choice is to buy “maguro”, which is the GSM version, model i-9250.… Read more »

    Mike Tran

    Hmm.. Even the Galaxy Nexus has fragmentation, There’s actually 3 different models of the Galaxy Nexus. One is the CDMA (Toro) version which Verizon and Sprint controls the updates due to CDMA signed network key crypto , Two is the Samsung/Carrier supported GSM (yakjudv) carrier sold model and Three is the Google directly sold GSM model (yakju). Each of these devices are currently running different versions of Android and supported by different companies. I’m well aware that you can mod your Samsung model to a Google yakju model but that’s a hassle normal consumers shouldn’t have to worry about. So..… Read more »

    Johnny Anon

    My story: Went into Telstra and got a Galaxy Nexus. Got home and realised that Telstra control the updates, and that I wouldn’t be getting Jelly Bean at the same time as US folk. Lodged a complaint with Telstra, and they said they couldn’t do anything. Lodged a complaint with the TIO and…I got out of my contract, put on a BYO $50 cap and they let me keep my GNex. I think after all the fees and credits…cost me about $50 out of pocket (which for a brand new GNex, is amazing). I installed the Galaxy Nexus toolkit and… Read more »


    To everyone commenting that you need to root your galaxy nexus to install jelly bean I suggest you read a bit more.. You do not need to root nor unlock your bootloader to flash a factory image for the Galaxy Nexus.. I have posted the link to it here in the comments section. Just backup anything you want to keep before flashing.. Stop complaining and do something for yourself. It’s easy to find- i just Googled how to update galaxy nexus to jelly bean and there are great instructions on numerous websites..


    Have you read any further than a cursory glance? As per the instructions ON THE PAGE you link to

    “Your device needs to be in fastboot mode, with the bootloader

    Doing that wipes your phone. Don’t try to say it’s a piece of piss and everyone should just wipe their phone and update…. it’s not straightforward, it’s not a simple thing for the layman to do without getting their hands dirty, and to suggest that people need to just to have their phone up to date is ridiculous.


    Spoco, you missed something else important about the multiple pages of technical gobbeldy-gook that Scott linked to. It’s all referring to connecting via USB to an install of desktop Linux which the end-user has had to set up just for creating Android builds.
    This leaves the vast majority of layman users up the creek without a paddle right from the start.
    The stuff Scott linked to is more than just layman users getting their hands dirty, it’s saying they need to learn the technicalities of a new OS, from scratch, just to update their phone.


    You know that the update process can unlock the bootloader automatically for you, right (you just need to confirm inside the phone pressing the power button). You don’t need to unlock the bootloader yourself. That is, you don’t need to put that obnoxious command that pro users do manually. It has all the executables yourself. The only thing I agree is that wiping is an unwanted side effect. But that’s necessary for security reasons, since a thief could mess with that to extract your data. That distinction is important because you’re suggesting we need to get our “hands dirty”, which… Read more »


    All skins touchwiz,sense, etc. And all carrier apps and Widgets should be in the play store free to download. If you have a Samsung-touchwiz is free,if you got it from vodafone download their apps.(if HTC want to offer sense that’s compatible with samsang then that’s fine too.) Then all handset which have the specs to handle the latest os and are tested by google get updated in a set timeframe of release.if the manufacturer can prove to google that it needs more creative programming to fit into the device in question then a set time again or a value pack.… Read more »


    So going by the writers logic we should compare the iphone to the galaxy nexus.

    Why would anyone get the galaxy nexus? Its hardware is pretty average and doesnt suit many people.

    Nexus doesnt have fast updates after announcement. A few people still ahvent got JB and some only just got it last week.

    I personally dont have an issue with fragmentation as there isnt anything added to android since gingerbread that has wanted me to upgrade. Just so happens my GS3 has ICS.


    The solve to the problem of fragmentation is simple.
    Google needs to make two points clear to the manufacturers
    1. That a new Android device, released without the latest version of Android, will be prohibited from the Play Store.
    2. That a new Android device, not released in commercial quantities with vanilla Android, will be prohibited from the Play Store.


    Or that could make each manufacturer to open up their own app store.


    I don’t agree with this. There is only ONE solution. Google should take the responsibility for the software in-house. Let the hardware vendors make their handsets. But the software should come from Google and Google alone. As for the UI, it should be something that gets installed when the first setup is done, a bit like the Google Restore function. As for the Telco bloatware, someone else summed it perfectly. It should be a free app on Market with the user having total control over whether they want to install or not. This takes care of fragmentation for once and… Read more »

    vijay alapati

    I brought my first smart fone an android in 2008…just because it has sd card support, free apps, more choice of handsets, easy to add music and content…more customizable And finally its Google…. 🙂

    David Anderton

    terrible article…. If you are using the argument that the nexus line are the only real android phones then next time you look at a smartphone marketshare piegraph “android” will be about 1%

    I’m glad to see this article has brought on some interesting debate. I think the point that Bill was trying to make, although perhaps it could have been made more clearly, was that an iPhone shouldn’t be compared with an SGS3 or HTC One X in terms of software updates – Apple control the end to end product for the iPhone, but the same is not true for Samsung and for HTC. Through that lens, this article and its viewpoint make sense. However, to say there is no fragmentation issue is probably a bit simplistic – clearly, there is an… Read more »


    I think the real reason you posted this article was purely for the rampaging arguments it’d cause, not at all because the article has any merit at all. It’s poorly written, not thought through, doesn’t make sense from any point of view. To say that there is a lens through which this article makes sense, and that lens is purely saying that Apple does things better (really, that’s all you’re saying. Samsung et all don’t control the system end to end, so they can’t do timely updates… um… how does that help the end user?) is not a defensible position.… Read more »

    Chris Rowland (Team Ausdroid)

    Alright then, I’ll throw down the challenge.

    Write a better article. Discuss the fragmentation issue and your take on it.

    Leave out the assumptions about our motivations for posting this one, and make a reasoned argument, submit it to our general email address, and I’ll post it.


    There’s nothing to write. The fragmentation debate has been argued well, fluently, and articulately many times over. I guess one could write as to how much fragmentation really hurts Android, if at all (from a user standpoint anyway, as an app developer myself I know how painful it can be getting things working across devices). You could point to sales figures of phones and apps and probably show that for all the crowing about fragmentation it’s not slowing the uptake of Android or profits to be made from apps written for it as an operating system. But I don’t have… Read more »

    Daryl Hall

    I’ve never had an update of any phone software until my HTC Desire, which when you look at what it can do, is still an incredible device. Microsoft never gives a free update when they release a new version of Windows, I’ve never had an update on my TV software. you don’t get a new engine in your car when they release a new model. We should be grateful for any after sale device update of any fashion. I have several friends with android devices and only two care about being on the current version of the software. Fragmentation is… Read more »


    Amen! Do we, as consumers, expect too much from our handset vendors and/or software vendors ? When we buy a handset, it comes with a particular version of software. That should be what you live with as that is what you bought. Only bug fixes should be compulsory. You may be onto something here. Maybe we are expecting too much.


    Title should read android isn’t fragmented if you buy certain phone


    I think a lot of people misinterpreted what the article was trying to say. Others have summed it up above. When comparing android with ios in terms of fragmentation…as a whole yes…it is. But for a pure experience its the nexus series. Once again it states that when purchase a phone you do so for the *as is* aspect…albeit hardware…design…software. When you complain about being left in the dark by google…its not google but the manufacturer. If those of you are tech savvy enough to worry about 4.0 to 4.1 yet wouldnt bother with the ability to flash a custom… Read more »

    Geoff Fieldew

    Interestingly… There’s a new school of thought you may stumble across if you read tech blogs (of course you do) and listen to tech podcasts. Basically, it’s this: Your Galaxy SIII, HTC One X, Motorola RAZR, Sony Xperia S, LG Optimus blah, blah, blah, etc phones are not so much Android phones running a custom interface with additional features. Instead they are *insert manufacturer name here* phones that are based on Android. I’m not sure I totally agree with this idea but I don’t totally disagree either. HTC Sense and Samsung Touchwiz, just to name two, are so intertwined with… Read more »


    I think you would have had a better case saying there was no fragmentation cause the only real version of Android is stock and all others are clones. Both could be believed if you wear blinker all your life. I moved from a One X to a Galaxy Nexus just to escape the stupid situation a lot of Android phones are in.




    I recently bought a Galaxy Nexus for the pure Android experience and e possibility of prompt upgrades of Android. It shipped with Ice Cream Sandwich. I ran the phone for a few days on ICS to see what it was like before upgrading to Jelly Bean. When it came time to upgrade, try as I might the phone would not find a Jelly Bean upgrade. So much for the Nexus getting the latest and greatest first. So I used the Nexus toolkit to install the Jelly Bean update. Not smooth when compared to the iOS experience i am used to… Read more »


    Why use the toolkit?

    You download that software called “SDK”. Then you download the update into that folder with all the executables. Click “flash-all” and you’re all set.

    Download, install. Download. Click “flash all”.

    If you want to type the commands manually, just copy and paste its contents one line at a time. But it’s not needed. The “flash-all” will handle it. There’s a Windows counterpart for this file, in case you’re not using a Mac (or a Linux system, which is basically the same for this purpose). One click flash, no warranty voided.

    Richard J

    I have a Galaxy Nexus and i’m *STILL* waiting for the latest update


    Flash it manually…. problem solved!

    Damon Lewis

    The ecosystem is clearly broken is users must take it upon themselves to void the warranty of their phone and flash an update. Gotta love extensive carrier testing and everyone dragging their feet along the update line.


    Glad you don’t have that issue with your iphone hey?

    Damon Lewis

    If I had an iPhone I would be glad. I’ve got a SGS3, had an S1 and S2 and was a regular rom flasher. I got so sick of my S1 being slow and carrier not releasing the 2.2.1 update which made it so much faster that I took the risk to flash the rom,


    I’ll flood this comment section until you all get the message:

    ===> When you flash a Nexus reference model with Google Factory Images, you do NOT VOID the WARRANTY. PERIOD.

    1) Download and install the drivers to your computer. 2) Download the update file from the Nexus Factory Images. 3) Plug your phone to your computer into debug mode (a little checkbox that you activate in Settings), and 4) double click the update executable (a one click procedure).

    Done. No warranty void.

    Reece Lyne

    Is ROM Manager a good way to update Nexus to those stock images? []

    Rebecca Skinner

    I have a Galaxy Nexus… I don’t have the latest version of Android (and probably wont for several months). What were you saying again?


    This was exactly my thought too. Carriers also play a (negative) role in the update process.


    If you have a galaxy nexus and don’t have the latest version of android you only have telstra and yourself to blame(or whoever your provider is ) you really owe it to yourself to read xda for 5 minutes and flash the latest stock image, who knows you might even get into the root side of things. Mounting network shares has to be the best thing ever

    Rebecca Skinner

    By that logic, anyone with an Android phone only has themselves to blame because they can just install a custom ROM on their phone and run the latest version always. Sorry, you can’t push the blame for this one onto the users.

    Get real dude

    Oh so now people have to void their warranty to get their NEXUS device to the latest version of Android?

    Yeah, that’s a great system Google have got going there.

    A device that has to be rooted/flashed to get the latest software – what a joke.


    Mate. What a load of hogwash. It shouldn’t be the users responsibility to be flashing their ROM’s to get the latest and greatest. It should be the phone manufacturers or the software vendors. Flashing the ROM should be an optional thing users do to enhance their experience, not something that should be mandatory just to get the latest software. Do you “root” the Engine Management Unit of your car to put something better on or is it done by your manufacturer ?


    I understand your pain, but if you buy subsidized, you accept the telco terms. Reality is that you should read the terms of their service before accepting. If they don’t explain exactly what you’re getting (if they don’t inform you about the device), you have the right (assuming you live in a fairly standard country, with minimal customer protection) to get your money back. It’s just that I research what I’m buying. I research cars before buying, I research houses and apartments before buying. Fridges, computers. Even food. Why I shouldn’t research my phone? Of course… until Apple creates the… Read more »


    Its definitely the manufacturers who are to blame for most of the incompatibility that developers might see, how often do you see statements like “won’t work on most HTC/Samsung phones”. As for slow updates they (and maybe Google also) are to blame, if they are not writing mostly common code amoungst all their models then they only have themselves to blame if they have to code for each phone specifically. Google should also be looking at the customizations that the manufacturers are making and design in OS hooks as required to allow them to add their skins as a clean… Read more »


    Is this shit a JOKE? Are you trolling? is this just link-bait?

    “android isn’t fragmented….. (if you pretend the piles and piles of devices that disprove this statement don’t exist… stick your fingers in your ears and hum REALLY loudly)”

    Shame on you for publishing this blatant LIE, this demonstrable horseshit.


    TL;DR, huh?

    Get real dude

    Terrible article, I mean really. You say “And that’s why Android is great: it offers choices” but best hardware and timely updates are mutually exclusive. If you want the best hardware and the latest Android software, no such Android phone exists. I can’t get a Galaxy S3 or a HTC One X/XL and have official Jellybean on it. You have to make do with last years (now dated) Galaxy Nexus for the latest software on average hardware. So the consumers choice really is: better hardware, or faster software updates (if at all….). That’s an absurd proposition for a consumer to… Read more »

    He does have a point

    I think you’ve got side tracked from the point a bit. He said “If you don’t like ‘fragmentation’, go buy a Nexus device.” Not that android dosen’t have a fragmentation issue. He is saying it’s not android’s fault for the fragmentation, it is the 3rd party (important to note this) manufacturers create this problem by dragging the update process out if even at all. He then goes on to say that people compare iOS vs Android across all devices. He says it is silly to compare the iPhone, the proprietary device for iOS, with the SGS3 as Samsung does not… Read more »


    If you’re looking at buying an iPhone because of the tight integration of hardware and software, but also want the customisation android offers, a Nexus device does the job. If you want the latest hardware, like the ones built by Samsung and HTC, then, you have to make sacrifices on the software side, since they don’t write the main software themselves. And this is precisely the problem Google’s been trying to solve: they will share the coding of the next version of android to the manufacturers weeks if not months before the actual announcement. this will help the late update… Read more »

    Get real dude

    The author of this article could have titled the article “Android Fragmentation Doesn’t Exist on Nexus Devices” and he’d STILL be wrong. Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7 aren’t all on the same software version. Galaxy Nexus is still on ICS, Only recently did the Nexus S get Jellybean (a good month or so after it was available). The article is flat out wrong no matter which way you slice it. You can blame the telco’s all you want, but it’s Android’s problem. Apple can get their s*** together with iOS updates, so why can’t Google with their *OWN* Nexus… Read more »

    @0070ed7e49528247a0e26cae388fde32:disqus: I’ll offer you the same opportunity as I offered someone else below – you clearly have some thoughts on this, and I’m all for a bit of a debate. If you’d like to write an opposing view, or a different take, then by all means do so and send it to our general address, and I’ll post it here.


    @0070ed7e49528247a0e26cae388fde32:disqus Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. There, one “moronic” wrong for each Nexus device that is not fragmented. Nexus 7, Galaxy Nexus, and three Nexus S variants. The fact that you didn’t receive the OTA doesn’t mean it doesn’t have. It just means that you don’t want to update. Updating the Galaxy Nexus is easy (install software/driver, download update file, plug phone to the computer and click the “update” executable file that comes with the download), but you’re so rude I won’t bother explaining. Don’t talk about voiding warranty. When you install the Google factory image on the Galaxy Nexus,… Read more »


    Ah, and please wash your mouth.