Android 6.0 (more commonly referred to as its more sugary name, Marshmallow) was announced back in May 2015 (as “Android M” at Google I/O). And as it typically goes, the new OS debuted in the real world with the launch of the Nexii this past Fall – the Nexus 5x and Nexus 6P.

The gold Huawei Nexus 6P
The gold Huawei Nexus 6P

For those Android fans not on a Nexus device (including myself), we’ve become accustomed to getting excited about the latest software from Google, but not too excited. Third-party Android phone manufacturers aren’t very expressive about when their current devices will be updated (if at all), and the adoption slowness of the new OS has yet to get better (it may actually be getting worse). Data collected by Google on Jan. 4th, 2016 says that Marshmallow is currently only on 0.7% of the Android devices out there.

Android distribution stats provided by
Android distribution stats provided by

This is a huge problem for Android.

It’s a disservice to both the customer and to Android when manufacturers let time pass by without acknowledging the update for their products and/or keep launching devices with the old OS. I hope I’m not the only one who cringes when I see new phones still coming out with Android 5.1.

I know what many folks say to this: “Most consumers don’t even track what version of Android they’re on, or care.” That’s certainly a good point, most consumers aren’t tech-savy enthusiasts. But this makes for a discontinuity. New devices always boast about cool, neat features and technical jargon (such as software tricks or chipset improvements). Why is it okay to tend to enthusiasts then? Many would say “Because they’re trying to sell the product.” Well then, isn’t it the enthusiast who would understand/care about these selling points?

Wouldn’t this same person care about new features that make the user experience better? Ah, I see now – the manufacturer already sold the device to you, so why do they need to do more work? This is where the problem lies with Android, and Marshmallow has shown that it’s not getting better.

This convolution unfortunately means that we should only be buying Nexus devices. It’s unfortunate because Android is supposed to mean choice. With this fragmentation left to run wild, the purpose is defeated.


If you think I’m being dramatic, let’s recap all the features that many Android users should be benefiting from right now.

  • Now on Tap: Touch and hold the Home button to automatically ping information about content on your screen.
  • Doze: Device goes into a deep sleep over lengthy periods of standby, to conserve some serious battery life.
  • App Standby: Another battery saving feature – seldom used apps are limited on battery usage.
  • Improved Permissions: Apps only request permission(s) when it’s needed.
  • Fingerprint Security: Your fingerprint not only unlocks your device, but authorizes transactions in the Play Store or signing into third-party apps.
  • Android Runtime “ART”: Improved application and multi-tasking performance.
  • Improved Text Functionality: Smarter text selection and copy/paste, built-in undo/redo, and text selection actions (such as a Translate option).
  • Chrome Custom Tabs: More integrated/seamless retrieval of web content from within apps, because they use Chrome.

These are the highlights, there’s more to Marshmallow.

The argument can go further when talking about faster updates to the current OS and smoother experience in Google’s pure user interface. Also, Google’s Project Fi wireless network is locked down to just Nexus phones. I enjoy the “Be together. Not the same” philosophy as much as the next Android fan, but the only reality I see for a proper experience with Android is with a Nexus device.

There are some wild card exceptions out there that have Marshmallow on a non-Nexus device (i.e. the HTC One A9 or Nvidia Shield tablet), but a 0.7% adoption shows that they are way too few and far between. What do you think about the matter? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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  1. No its a huge problem for companies like Samsung that produce high end phones, with lower spec phones u would put up with it

    • Actually, iOS is less secure. The National Vulnerability Database reported that OSX has the most (384) security vulnerabilities of any Operating System in the world, with iOS right behind it (375), add in Safari’s vulnerabilities and that bumps OSX to 569 and iOS at 560 vulnerabilities.

      Putting this into perspective, Adobe Flash Player has been hailed as a security liability for decades, and it only has 314 vulnerabilities. When your OS exceeds Flash as a security threat, you know there’s a big problem.

      Android sits at #20 with 130 vulnerabilities, certainly a far cry from perfect, but it’s still way better than iOS.

      The source:

    • That simply isn’t necessarily true. Even though a closed system can help in security, only so many people have looked at it so it can only be as secure as the people who has programmed it while open source can be even more secure because more people have seen it so if there is a big there’s a higher likely hood of someone seeing it and fixing it.

  2. OEM’s need to get their ish together… they can put Marshmallow on their phones but don’t… they can include both gsm/cdma antennas to possibly use Fi, but they don’t… and until they do i will always defer to a nexus :)

  3. My gripe is the following: Why is Froyo all the way to KitKat version still even on the chart? Those should have been long gone by now. Just my 2 cents//

    • Because my 66 year old mother is still using LG L9. Most people just want a phone that works without worrying about what OS version they’re running.

  4. Samsung’s update policy on the OS was a large part of my moving from the Note 2 to the Nexus 6P. The other part was their design language.

    If I were Google I would stick with the design and build of the 6P. And work on improving the software experience and adding features.

  5. My next phone needs to be one with microSD support, which precludes Nexuses.

    That said, unless Google makes beta Android code available to OEMs and includes them in development as MS does with Windows, can we really be surprised when it takes OEMs forever to deliver updates after only *just* seeing Google’s code in May?

    • Google do allow sd cards just not on nexus’ I know for my tablet I have a 64gb sdcard, after the update, the system asked me to make the 64gb my primary storage, but had format it first

  6. Forget about manufacturers holding up Android updates on Nexus phones, what about carriers interfering? I bought a Nexus 6 direct from Motorola, but only received an OTA update to 6.0.1 last week because I use AT&T (over three months after Marshmallow rolled out). As long as carriers can hold your phone hostage, there’s no guarantee your Nexus device will get updates in a timely fashion.

    • Carriers are one the biggest culprits here. I live in South Africa, and refuse to buy in SA, because carriers block updates. Mind you not on purpose. Carriers are allowed to add their own software on top of the OEM’s bloat means that any new update from the OEM has to go through yet another port and QA test cycle. That is whey Apple was so smart to push off the carries from their OS. Buying Nexus is the only way to go if one cares about security, which is a bit problematic for many reasons..

      • I bought a rather chunky case for my Nexus 6 that has a flat back (I also dislike curved backs on phones). I also happen to have freakishly giant hands, so it works for me. While I dislike bloatware as much as anyone, there’s something to be said for the professional looking skins manufacturers like LG and HTC use within their messaging/contacts/etc apps. Google’s childish look and lack of visual customization within apps bothers me. The bright, primary color scheme of Google apps look decidedly unsophisticated to me. My previous phone was a LG G2 and I can see myself going back to LG.

    • When I bought my Nexus 6 I thought about buying a Verizon version but in the end decided against it and went for the unlocked version. Updates come straight from Google not matter what carrier you’re using.

      • The second you insert a sim, your unlocked phone becomes the build number associated with that carrier. Even a factory reset doesn’t change it. The carriers have to approve any OTA updates Google puts out. Nexus 6 owners on AT&T just got Marshmallow last week.

        • I can see people that bought an At&t specific Nexus 6 receiving their OTA late because they have to add their bloatware and then test. But for unlocked versions like mine I can tell you the OTA comes straight from Google. I’ve never had a build number from Verizon and never will I ever so long as I have an unlocked version. There is a reason why with the Nexus 6 they have different builds (because they sold carrier specific ones) and with the Nexus 6P they don’t just one build which is Google’s. If what you’re saying was true then there would not be any reason to release their stock build to the public since the SIM is going to dictate which build you receive anyway.

          • Jerry, you are incorrect. AT&T just rolled out Marshmallow to their Nexus 6 (even unlocked ones) LAST WEEK. Taking out the sim and factory resetting didn’t help. It was all over the internet because people were complaining like crazy. I have emails from Nexus support advising me to be patient about the update going back to November. Google can tell you they release OTA updates directly, but it’s only part of the story. The carriers have to approve it first and AT&T dragged their feet for three months.

          • Incorrect. You obviously don’t own a nexus 6. Once your activate a nexus 6 on a specific carrier you get a specific build FOR that carrier. At&t, T-Mobile, Verizon, project Fi all have different builds. And THEY control the updates.

            My project Fi nexus 6 didn’t receive marshmallow till recently. It’s a specific build for that carrier. At&t got it even later.

            And no, you can’t just swap sims. You have to do a factory reset, and activate the device with the new sim in order to get that build. You won’t just get Google’s build over WiFi either.

            You sounded so certain, do you read any of the forums??

          • Well Jake I’d have you know I have a Nexus 6 & Nexus 6p….both unlocked and both on Verizon. If what you’re saying is true both phones would ALWAYS be prompting me to update to a Verizon build and yet here I stand with two builds from Google with no Verizon bloat and no updates pending. Oh and same story with my brother with Nexus 6P on T-Mobile. I sound certain because I know I’m right. Like I said, if my sim card dictated which build I receive then there would be absolutely no reason what so ever for Google to ever release their factory image to the public. What would be the point? The only factory images they would need to release is the ones for Wifi Nexus tablets…..and yet they don’t. That is the sole purpose of the Nexus line to never have to wait for updates from the carrier and have a pure vanilla android experience UNLESS you buy a carrier specific Nexus device like the 6 which had a Verizon, At&t, and Sprint specific model.

          • Nope. When i got my nexus 6 i let it update thru wifi first to marshmallow. Then i put verizon sim in. No changes since. Exact same build.

        • Thankfully Google posts factory images for each OS revision on their developer site for those not willing to be held ransom by their carriers.

        • Nah m8. That’s not true. Your build number doesn’t associate with your carrier. It’s with your phone. That’s if you bought it unlocked.

        • You can put in another carriers sim, active or not, who’s less controlling and restart the phone while connected to WiFi and get the updates you’re missing☺plus, once you go above the version that the carrier’s restricting, you’ll continue to get the monthly updates!

          • Nope. You can’t. You have to do a factory reset. You’re not informed on how this situation works..

        • Thats not true for all carriers/phones, it can happen without you knowing before because of small lines in your plan conditions. I myself bought an unlocked moto g and went from Tmobile, to verizon, to a french carrier no problem whatsoever

    • Not all carriers carry Nexus phones though. Like no one has the 6p so you don’t have to worry about it

        • Flashing an OTA update does not require a bootloader unlock, and with the Nexus Root Toolkit, that literally does everything for you, it is as simple as clicking a button. If you can’t figure that out, my question to you would be, do you not read?
          But hey, I guess it’s easier for you to be Billy Butthurt in the comments section at every opportunity?

        • He forgot a step :
          1) take sime card out
          2) reboot and pop in another carrier’s sim (friend’s, family’s)
          3) While connected to wifi, just download/ install your M update

  7. I think you’re overstating the case for a number of reasons:

    1. The stats from Google don’t tell the whole picture. There are still tonnes of older phones out there, or low-end knock-offs running older versions. Not to mention the number of people who simply ignore system updates.

    2. I would have more of an issue if manufacturers are releasing with old minor-versions (ie releasing with 5.0 rather than 5.1) than with older major-versions. But mostly they don’t.

    3. Given the amount of apps that are *still* not updated for Marshmallow, it’s not a wonder than manufacturers would hold off.

    4. Many manufacturers wait until the first minor update before releasing, aware that the first release of a major update often has issues that are fixed in the first minor update.

    5. Manufacturers, much as we may hate it, tweak the OS using their own particular bundle of magic. These need to be fully tested against the new OS before release. This takes time.

    6. Even with stock Android, testing takes time.

    7. We should not have a problem with manufacturers taking time to test, if it means that our experience is optimised.

    8. Often the best new features of a major update require additional hardware implementation.

  8. My first Nexus phone was the Nexus 4. I liked the quick updates but I felt the hardware in non-Nexus phones were much better so after the N4 I jumped to a Samsung Galaxy S4. Within 6 months, I was already naffed off by Samsung’s super slow updates so I switched to a Nexus 5 (even though it had already been over a year since it was available). It’s still going very strong. I was keen to upgrade to one of the 2015 Nexus models but I was severely unimpressed with both offerings so I’m now holding out for the 2016 Nexus models in hope that they’ll provide a much better option. I love the quick updates on Nexus devices and Google have made good on their promise of monthly security updates. I’m not sure any of the other manufacturers who promised this have made good on their promise though.

    I truly do feel that so many manufacturers with non-Nexus phones couldn’t care less about updates after the phone is around 4 months old. Any updates they do eventually release is often long over due and probably done when it is no longer the latest Android OS. Manufacturers adopting the “already sold the device to you, so why do more work” mentality is extremely short sighted. Customers only need to get burnt once before they switch to a different manufacturer. However, taking the effort to provide really excellent software support (as good as the Nexus devices) is a better move in the long run.

    I get that manufacturers would struggle to bring updates out as quickly as Nexus devices (it’s not impossible as I think Motorola managed to bring out an Android OS update even before some of the Nexus devices). However, even if they were lagging behind a month or two, that would still be ok provided they still made effort to release all the updates (including monthly security updates too).

  9. Only thing I saw on that list that really piqued my interest was undo/redo. I’m getting great battery life, losing 1% battery overnight without doze or app standby, and don’t mind taking all the effort to say “search parsley.” App permissions were great on 4.1 but they decided to take it away. Go figure.

    Just saying not everyone is thrilled by updates, especially when (like with App Ops and many others) they always take away about as much as they give. There’s always something to be pissed about.

    I’m enjoying my phone as is. Keep your Nexii.

  10. Pretty dissapointing for a tech enthusiast you missed the most important part; security fixes/patches. Go rewrite your article.

    • I find a lot of these tech enthusiasts sites like this and android authority often neglect the tech enthusiasts…

  11. Ah, the Nexus conundrum… There’s certainly a reason I’ve only ever owned a Nexus phone, and the Author nailed it. Regarding who’s responsible, its certainly NOT Google (remember how the Nexus series was to be replaced by the Silver program?). They have given manufacturers so many opportunities to fix fragmentation, but they refuse in order to peddle their crappy bloatware. I’m talking to you, Samsung…

  12. Don’t forget about motorola. I have an x-play and love it. Got marshmallow update in December. It may not be popular but jesus it’s a good phone.

  13. Carriers themselves are still the biggest problems with upgrades. I can’t believe Verizon just now updated the note 4 to 5.1.1. I am on t-mobile and my note 4 is slated to get 6.0. I am all for speedy updates, but I am still mad that installing lollipop on my Nexus 7 -Google’s own device- turned it into a paperweight. I am no longer a fan of any Nexus product. Speedy updates are issues when they cripple my device because the bugs haven’t been worked out. I can wait until my carrier is certain the update is safe to install.

  14. Seriously Josh Noriega? There are dozens of Android 6.0 roms which support not only Nexus, but most major Android devices, and they are in most cases easy to flash and update. My phone is a OnePlus One, and I’ve always kept it up to date, it’s currently 6.0.1, and the last time I updated it was January 5th. If you really think Nexus is the only way to guarantee your phone always has the latest Android, you’ve been living under a rock.

    • While you’re right about there being 6.0 ROMs that support a range of devices, they are not completely Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The biggest example that comes to mind is Android Pay which is unusable on rooted devices. So if you want to take advantage of that, you’ll need “real” Android Marshmallow.

      And while rooting and flashing may come easy to some people, it is not something that everyone understands and is comfortable with doing. Many don’t even know the option exists. So for them (which is the majority of users), getting a Nexus device really is the only way to ensure they receive timely Android updates.

      • I understand that for the majority of users, due to the unfamiliarity of most people with rooting and custom-ROMS isn’t an option, but the post read nothing like what you suggest. The authors don’t even cite that as a reason, actually. Android Pay is IMO an overrated feature. I see it in stores everywhere, but never felt the least bit inconvenienced from having to use my card instead; heck, I haven’t even used my Google Wallet debit card simply due to a lack of reason to. From what I can tell, at least for now it’s just a gimmick- even wireless charging is more useful ATM.

  15. Josh, you’re conflating hardware choice with software choice. It is true that restricting yourself to Nexus phones severely limits your hardware choices. However, this situation is no worse than the Apple alternative — Apple sells two current iPhone models, just as Google sells two current Nexus models. On the software side, Nexus is infinitely more flexible than iPhone. I can install ROMs, compile kernels, unlock and root, and do all sorts of things that the iPhone forbids. So you’re right that some flexibility is lost, but the glass is still half full.

  16. I would love to get the new Nexus 6P.
    However in Australia if you want to get it on a plan the only option is the 32gb model. 32gb with no sd card is not worth it.

    • I bought the 32gb version outright from virgin and I still have over 10gb left. What are people doing in their phone that requires so much storage…

      • I can’t speak for everyone else, but currently I have a 16gb phone with 32gb sd card.

        Constantly running out of space on phone storage, sd card has plenty.

        Currently I have no games installed, only for space reasons.

        If I got a 32gb with no sd this is where I see issues for me are with media:

        The biggest one is that I use the SD card for storage of photos and videos I take with the device. So I would need to transfer them off a lot more often.

        I catch the train so I use my phone for music, videos, reading and games (all but games on the sd card) .
        I currently have 4gb of google music stored on device for listening during train travel. The others fluctuate depending on the week.

        When I went travelling I filled up the sd card with comics and videos for the plane. So thankful I could do that.

        So personally I think a 32gb would be enough generally, but limiting to media options.

  17. As said earlier part of the fragmentation issue is not Google’s fault or the carriers it the useres. My 66 year old father has an android that was released before jellybean and I’m sure he hasn’t up dated it. Google needs to take Android away from the manufacturer’s so they can’t pre load any extra garbage on the phones. But enters the 2012 Nexus 7 “debacle” ran great on kit kat and became a paper weight on lollipop.

    I don’t know where this carrier bloatware on Nexus is coming from but my Nexus 6 is on the redheaded stepchild of carriers Sprint and there’s nothing extra installed or pushed to my phone. I love my Nexus 6 coming from the S4, if you want to see bloat pick up any Samsung device.

    I’m switching to Verizon soon and they still have the N6 and I saw the V10, then got thinking of the V10 and smacked myself in the face and decided I’ll get the N6 again. Is it for the OS updates? Not so much, do I care it doesn’t have a removable battery or SD card? nope, do I care about the size? Nope. I love Nexus because it doesn’t come 3/4 loaded with crap I’ll never use that’s wasting space.

    But the part people always forget is the majority of cell phone users don’t car about the OS, they just want the latest and greatest badass fastest phone on the market that has the best camera so they can take a million selifies and pics of they’re food.

  18. Or… You could just say screw the carriers and move over to custom ROMs or nightlies. Most are stable versions at the moment and you get everything in advance. I’m currently running CM13 Sultan xda nightlies, which is android M with some added customization, this means that Ive been running android 6.0 for the last 2.5 months with full features and MUCH better support because your ROM is updated 3+ times a week so issues are fixed the next day.

  19. Or… You could just say screw the carriers and move over to custom ROMs or nightlies. Most are stable versions at the moment and you get everything in advance. I’m currently running CM13 Sultan xda nightlies, which is android M with some added customization, this means that Ive been running android 6.0 for the last 2.5 months with full features and MUCH better support because your ROM is updated 3+ times a week so issues are fixed the next day!

    • Basic facts is you should not be required to do all this. Some people enjoy it some people don’t ,some don’t have time for it. Also I have seen although cms are newer they are buggy and more of menace

      • In their birth yes, but wait a month and they’re stable. But yes we shouldn’t have to do this to update android. People shouldnt have to manipulate the os to have the latest

    • cm13 is a buggy mess. those 3+ updates a week are still buggy. No thanks, I’ll stick to stock 6.0.1 on my nexus 5. Rock solid.

      • Maybe starting out nightlies are buddy but wait a month and they’re fairly stable. I’ve yet to notice any significant issues with Sultan xda version. Plus with cm13 you get all the customization that stock android lacks

        • I used to run CM12.1 for lollipop. But for marshmallow, at this moment, for Nexus devices, Stock firmware is the best bet for stability. Right now I am using Cataclysm mod that brings some of that customization to stock. Maybe in a month or two, CM13 will be ready, and I’ll move to it.

  20. It’s funny to see what tech fans argue about. (See comments). As for the article, one thing it didn’t mention is that users also hold up their updates. Ever been out of space on your phone and waited to update until you were willing and able to delete excess content? There’s clearly multiple factors at play here.

  21. Hi Josh, sorry to be nitpicking, but the plural of Nexus as a noun is Nexus pronounced with a long “u”, sometimes spelled Nexuus. This is U declination as in status. U declination is quite rare, that’s why it mostly comes as a surprise to people.

    Should add: I would never buy a non-Nexus Android phone to have the safety of regular and timely upgrades.

  22. Nexus phone always get the newest software I live the stock Android n I love nexus devices n I love the feeling that I’m always up to date software wise I love it man

  23. I’m very happy with my 2-year-old phone, the HTC One M8 GPE. I’ve been on Marshmallow for well over a month. I get stock Android with timely updates, and I still get that great build quality and BoomSound associated with the One Mx lineup.

  24. I have a Nexus6 through US Cellular! Got Android 6.0.1 a few weeks ago! Carries should sell nexus devices but keep it pure like my carrier does!

  25. Except the Nexus phones are terrible and always have issues that you wont get on a manufacturer flagship. Note the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 5x all have issues with stuttering, camera issues, or battery leaks.

    Samsung and LG flagships are at least tested more and dont have those issues. An S6 or G4 are far smoother than a Nexus 5x even today. Google refuses to troubleshoot or fix these performance issues on their Nexus phones.

  26. Verizon held it up a couple/three of weeks, of course, they insisted it wasn’t them it was Google causing the delay… But I am at 6.01 with the January security update ..working quite nicely

  27. This is one reason I am beginning to dislike Android. E.g I bought xiaomi last year and still stuck on 4.4 I can flash custom ROM but they are by large useless, simple camera runs sub standard on them. The story is same across manufacturers. I had nexus 3 prior to that and Google dumped us post 18 months on 4.2.
    Now this is where apple outshines , you may say its expensive ..yeah but you didn’t buy Android purely cause it was cheap. Google is letting manufacturers kill Android slowly and steadily and it doesn’t seem to care less

    • I’d recommend color os 50mp camera app. I’ve used it for the last year and love it. Flash it through custom recovery and you’re all good

  28. I just want to say for the record, the level of ignorance and misinformation displayed here on a tech article is mind blowing. Please people, use due diligence before commenting. Know what you’re talking about. The information you need to be a well informed commentator is just a few keystrokes/clicks away. Take your time, formulate your argument and have fun.

  29. Even Nexus phones aren’t impervious to show updates anymore. It took weeks to get the 6.0 update due my N6 on T-Mobile.

  30. Wow from reading all these comments, US carriers suck. here in the UK EVERY nexus is unlocked to all networks so putting a sim card in makes absolutely no difference. Google always release updates in waves anyway so your not always guaranteed to get the update first. But i can change my sim card once a week if i wanted to and it wouldn’t affect updates because we have no carrier bloatware anymore and because sim cards affect the phone in no way at all.

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