When we talk about Android versions we mainly refer to the versions of the operating system (for example Android 9 or Android 10), even if the picture is much broader than we think: even between Android systems of the same version there can be considerable differences, especially if we look at the versions of Android between different smartphone manufacturers (for example Samsung and Huawei). Just to understand the differences that can appear between the various Android systems, in this guide we will show you all the versions of Android available at the moment and, among these, which Android system is the best .
In this way, the next time we go to buy an Android smartphone, we will already know which one to take based on the characteristics and needs.
Which Android smartphone has the best system
Given the presence of many different Android systems, in the following chapters we will discover all the variants currently available, so as to be able to grasp the strengths and weaknesses of each version.
Pure Android or Vanilla
Android Vanilla is the original version , that is distributed by Google on the Android.com site or on smartphones produced directly by Google (currently the Pixel). It does not present any customization or superfluous apps: the only system apps are those provided by Google to access its services.
This version of Android is fast and snappy, also thanks to the optimizations studied by Google and also available later as updates. The updates are the strength of this version: smartphones with Android Vanilla will be the first to receive the new Android releases and the innovative features designed by Google for the operating system, without having to buy a new phone every year (currently all Pixel have 3 years of guaranteed updates from the release date). Unfortunately, this version of Android also has some flaws: being devoid of customizations it could be “very bare” from the point of view of integrated features, to the point of having to often install third-party apps to have basic functions available on other versions of Android (especially those released by other smartphone manufacturers).
If we are interested in pure Android, we recommend that you take a look at our article on the Pixel 4, the Google smartphone with pure and optimized Android .
Android One is the pure version of Android released by Google for other smartphones than the Pixels.
This version has the same advantages seen on pure Android for the Pixel : high system speed, presence of only Google system apps and constant updates (guaranteed for 2 years from the release date). This version of Android receives the updates a few weeks after the Pixels, so in fact they are the cheapest way to always have Android updated without necessarily having to buy a Pixel (which still comes with a very high price).
In addition to sharing the merits, it also shares the defects of the pure Android: customizations are not allowed, so the system can be bare from the point of view of integrated features, which we will have to remedy with third-party apps.
If we are looking for an Android One smartphone, just click on the Amazon search available here -> Android One smartphone .
Another pure Android variant is Android Go , dedicated to low-end smartphones with very little RAM memory (it can also run with 1 GB or less of RAM).
In this operating system, the Google system apps are extremely light , since they take up very little memory when they are active and exchange very little network data compared to their normal counterparts, so as to be fluid even on new cheap smartphones. The platform provides (in the Play Store Go) other “Go” apps, which are optimized to run on these smartphones with little memory while maintaining an enviable fluidity. This platform is constantly growing and could one day become the benchmark for ultra-cheap smartphones under € 100.
ALSO READ: Android Go smartphone with optimized performance for less than 100 Euros
Android customized by manufacturers
The various smartphone manufacturers that adopt Android customize the system according to their needs , adding new system apps, a new launcher, new features in the settings menu and new features (not infrequently absent in the pure Android version).
These are undoubtedly the most popular Android systems, but they also have marked differences with pure Android or between versions of Android from different manufacturers.
They tend to be fast only on very powerful devices (given the large number of system apps to be managed at startup) but they allow you to obtain a large number of features , bringing Android to a better level of usability than the pure versions seen a little while ago. .
The only real sore point are updates : in addition to having to receive the update from Google (complete with approvals), the manufacturer must also update its apps and customizations : it is therefore not uncommon for these devices to receive new versions of Android with delays of months or even a year after the release of the same version on pure Android!
Currently the best custom Android systems are:
- OxygenOS : this customized version of Android is available on OnePlus smartphones ; this Chinese manufacturer provides very powerful Android phones from a hardware point of view, a user interface equal to the pure one, no superfluous apps and very few customizations. It is currently the fastest to receive updates after pure Android.
- MIUI : the customized version of Android available on Xiaomi smartphones ; it is deeply customized in every aspect, to the point of resembling the iPhone’s iOS more than the pure Android (of which it only maintains the Google apps and compatibility with Android apps). This operating system receives many updates , even on the cheapest smartphones, and manages to integrate all the news even on older Android versions (in fact the Android version number is practically superfluous on a Xiaomi).
- EMUI : this customized version of Android can be found on Huawei and Honor smartphones ; it comes with an easy-to-use interface and with various system apps developed exclusively by Huawei for its devices. Discreet update times to new versions of Android, as well as the introduction of new features.
- One UI : even if the name may not say anything, it represents the version of Android present on all modern Samsung . It replaces Samsung Experience and the TouchWiz, which had disappointed so much on previous Samsung models, presenting itself as a much more fluid system, with redesigned system apps and unique interface features (to make the S-Pen, the stylus of the Galaxy Note). Updates have improved over time, but Samsung rarely updates cheaper models or models that are more than 2 years old.
- Zen UI : this customized version of Android can be found on all Asus smartphones . It is heavily customized in every aspect, features a number of Asus-exclusive system apps and is sufficiently fast and responsive. On the updates side we are not at the levels of the best, following a policy very similar to Samsung (only the most recent).
- LG UX : As the name suggests, it is the customized version of Android that comes with LG smartphones . It is highly customized and sufficiently fluid for each usage scenario, as well as integrating a large number of features. Also in this case the update policy is incomplete, where only high-end smartphones can hope to receive constant updates during the 2 years from the product’s release.
- Flyme OS : this customized version of Android can be found on Meizu smartphones . It looks like a highly customized system, to the point of getting closer to the iPhone interface than pure Android. Few proprietary system apps and a good number of updates, always able to introduce new features.
- Xperia UI : from the name we can immediately understand that this version of Android is available on Sony smartphones ; it comes as a responsive system, full of Sony system apps and with a good update policy.
Obviously there are also other versions of Android on the market, but the ones we have mentioned are the most famous, having gained a great deal of experience over the years.
Android customized by independent developers (Custom ROM)
In addition to the versions customized by the manufacturers, we can download for free from the Web versions of Android edited and optimized by independent developers, who release them as Custom ROMs (i.e. as a ROM capable of completely replacing the manufacturer’s operating system).
These customized versions can “revive” smartphones abandoned by manufacturers, so that you can continue to use them with newer Android versions. They receive constant updates and are often faster and more responsive than the original ROM (especially due to the absence of useless system apps). The defects of these ROMs are often related to hardware incompatibilities or small problems with the interface, but nothing that cannot be solved with a targeted update.
If we want to deepen the subject, we advise you to read our guides to the Best Android Custom ROM versions for each smartphone and How to install a Custom Android ROM .
Today, it is difficult to say which phone has the best Android version, because it depends a lot on personal tastes and needs in terms of functionality and frequency of updates.
The most important thing is that the system is updated to a recent version or that it regularly receives security patches released by Google ; currently this is possible on Pixel smartphones, Android One smartphones, Xiaomi and OnePlus smartphones (which update their phones also to integrate only the security patches released by Google).
If our smartphone has a few years on its shoulders, we can try to change ROM (as seen above) or follow the advice described in our article How to speed up Android on every smartphone .
If, on the other hand, we have already replaced the old smartphone with a new one, we can use the old phone in various ways, as described in our guide to the different ways to use the old Android phone .