Smartphone companies are still sending the Android 5.0 Lollipop update out to most Android smartphones on the market, but Google has been hard at work on Android 5.1. Google first released the 5.1 update on March 9 to select Nexus device owners, with improved security, stability, and overall performance, as well as a few new features. Here’s everything you need to know, and which devices have it so far.
Updated on 07-22-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added news that Sony has started updating several Xperia Z phones and tablets.
Which devices have the Android 5.1 update available?
The Android 5.1 update is slowly being sent out to various devices, starting — as always — with Google’s own Nexus hardware, and the Google Play Edition models. Other smartphone manufacturers are also sending the update to various devices. Here’s all the official announcements.
Google Nexus and GPE hardware
The Nexus 4, Nexus 5, 2013 Nexus 7 tablet, and the Nexus 6 from T-Mobile all received the Android 5.1 update in March 2015. Sprint said Android 5.1 would arrive on its Nexus 6 on March 11 as an over-the-air update for some users, though it may take a while to reach everyone. The carrier added that the Nexus 5 will also get the update in the near future. Verizon says its Nexus 6 will sport Android 5.1 as soon as it arrives in stores on March 12.
Owners of the LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition tablet are also reporting Android 5.1 is showing up on their machines, and reports gathered of the update’s arrival on the HTC One M8 Google Play Edition. On April 6, Motorola confirmed Android 5.1 was making its way out on to the Moto G Google Play Edition
On July 21, Sony announced the Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3 Compact, and the Xperia Z2 smartphones, plus the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact and the Xperia Z2 Tablet would all start receiving Android 5.1. Once updated, the devices will benefit from more customization options, LinkedIn integration, improvements to the autofocus feature on the camera, plus a remote shutter button will be added to the Sony SmartWatch 3.
Next on the list, with updates expected to be sent out in a few weeks time, is the Xperia Z1, the Z1 Compact, and the Z Ultra. After that, Sony’s dealing with the Xperia T2 Ultra, the Xperia C3, the first Xperia Z, and finally, the Xperia M2 and the M2 Aqua.
Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge phones connected to Sprint should have started receiving an update to Android 5.1 at the end of June. The network confirmed the new version on its website, along with a bug fixing update being sent out in mid-July.
Also in June, T-Mobile began delivering Android 5.1.1 to the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, which according to reports also contained a few new features alongside the OS improvements. These include a simpler camera exposure control, UI alterations, and a parallax scrolling effect for some wallpapers.
AT&T sent the Android 5.1 update out to the Moto X in early July, but halted the update due to an unspecified problem. The delay is only temporary according to the network, so the update process should begin again soon.
HTC’s Mo Versi tweeted Android 5.1 had been approved for the One M7 and the One M8, and the over-the-air update would be fully released soon.
What’s in the Android 5.1 update
Although it’s undeniably the most attractive Android version yet, Lollipop has been pretty buggy since it arrived on the first Nexus devices last year. Now, it seems Google has addressed many issues concerning stability and performance with the Android 5.1 update. Google didn’t mention specific areas of improvement, but as we start testing the update, we’ll let you know if it fixes known issues.
Android 5.1 also adds a bunch of new features, including support for multiple SIM cards, Device Protection, and high-definition (HD) voice on select phones. So long as you’ve got a device with multiple SIM card slots, you’ll now be able to use more than one SIM with Android 5.1.
Google’s Device Protection is aimed at ensuring that even if your phone is lost or stolen, it will stay in lockdown mode until you sign in with your account info, regardless of whether the thief has factory reset the device. The vast majority of Android phones and tablets shipped with Android 5.1 onboard, as well as the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, will be able to use this extra level of protection. Additionally, HD Voice calling will now work on all Android 5.1 devices that use the network of either T-Mobile or Verizon.
Last but not least, Android 5.1 opens up access to join Wi-Fi networks and manage your Bluetooth-connected devices right in the Quick Settings menu.
Updated on 04-08-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added news of Android 5.1 Lollipop coming to the HTC One M8 GPE, One M7 GPE, LG G Pad 8.3 GPE, and the Moto G GPE.
Updated on 03-19-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added news of Android 5.1 Lollipop hitting the T-Mobile Nexus 6.