Does my smartphone really need that software update?

Man with phone

Every few months, it's pretty much guaranteed that a new update to your smartphone's software will appear, urging you to 'download now'. But what are the benefits of updating? And is it really a good idea to update your phone straight away?

First the good news

Updating your software is free and relatively easy, and you can be confident that the majority of changes make your phone run more quickly and efficiently. You'll get lots of new features and, most importantly, increased security for you and your personal information.

On the other hand...

- You won't be able to use your phone for up to an hour while it's updating.
- There's a very slight chance that the update may wipe your phone's memory, so we recommend that you back up all your important data first.
- The update may change how things work in ways that you simply don't like.
- Not all the features of a new operating system are available on every phone.

So should you update?

Maybe you're happy with your phone just the way it is. That's okay, but be aware that older operating systems eventually stop being supported. You may also gradually discover that newer apps, and updates to apps you currently have, won't run on your older operating system.

To make the most of your phone, it's a great idea to regularly update to the latest operating system. The features and benefits far outweigh any risks and hassle involved.

What we recommend

1. It's good practice to wait a couple of weeks after a new software update is released so that any teething troubles can be sorted out.
2. We also highly recommend that you use Wi-Fi to download the update, as it will use a lot of data.

Here's what you can expect from the latest updates for Android phones, iPhone and Windows phones:

Android 7.0 Nougat

- Nexus, Pixel, Motorola and HTC are usually first to get the update – check manufacturer websites for information.
- Make your phone more powerful and secure, plus improve battery life.
- Install apps quicker – and they take up less space too.
- Enjoy split-screen apps.

Get the update...

Check that you're connected to a Wi-Fi network and plug in your phone. Then go to 'Settings' followed by 'Backup & reset' and make sure both 'Backup my data' and 'Automatic restore' are checked. Download and install the update by following the onscreen prompts.

iOS 10 for iPhone

- Available for iPhone 5, SE, 6 and 7 – Not available for iPhone 4s.
- iMessage gets loads of new features and effects.
- Maps is improved – it even tells you where you parked your car.
- Ability to remove the default apps you don't use.

Get the update...

Before starting the download, check you have enough storage space and connect to Wi-Fi. Back up your stuff by going to 'Settings' followed by 'iCloud' and 'Backup', and select 'Backup Now'. To download the update, go to 'Settings' followed 'General', 'Software Update' and 'Download and Install'.

Windows 10

- Loads more apps are available in the app store.
- Voice controls are improved – just ask Cortana.
- Plug your phone into a monitor and it will operate at the larger screen size.
- Includes an audio recording app, updated alarm app, and better notification menu.

Get the update....

To check if the upgrade is available for your phone go to the Store, install the Upgrade Advisor app, and run the app to see if the update is available. If it is, plug in your phone and make sure you're connected to a Wi-Fi network. Then select 'Enable Windows 10 upgrade'.

Haven't upgraded in a while?

Software updates aren't available for every phone. Once your phone reaches a certain age it won't be able to receive the latest updates.