Is Android 4.4 Worth Buying a New Phone?

Android 4.4’s announcement took the world by storm with its new set of features and promising performance improvements. But is this operating system really worth getting a new phone for? Or will it suffice to wait for an update from the manufacturer of your current older phone? We’ll discuss this and also include some of the tasty features that make Android 4.4 live up to its delicious name (Kit Kat).

I personally didn’t like Android’s previous iterations since they seemed to be only marginally less bloated than their predecessors, and I’m still not sure how much the processing power boost that new phones have arrived with actually helped. Some would say that higher-end phones and tablets are the reason why people have had better experiences with new versions of Android. I think the performance increases were there, but not necessarily disruptive enough to broaden the spectrum for mid-range consumers.

That said, Android 4.4 has concentrated heavily on decreasing its resource usage while still maintaining the same feature-rich interface that Android users have enjoyed in previous versions. In fact, its focus on performance is more pronounced by its new memory monitoring interface, which allows you to more precisely manage your memory usage.

android4.4 - system memory

Most of the performance increase comes from the unification of certain system aspects. A lot of regular functions of Android have been consolidated into one unified set, as opposed to treating each object separately. It would be difficult for me to break this down, but just know that Android has cleaned house a bit on lots of its bloated areas, making the interface much smoother even on older mid-range and even some low-range devices.

Besides routine improvements such as minimized battery usage, Android 4.4 brings with it a new set of features that may or may not be interesting, depending on your subjective needs:

  • Wireless printing is now a possibility without the help of third-party methods.
  • The status bar is no longer black. It goes off on a gradient, meaning that you’ll have just a teeny bit more screen real estate to play around with.
  • Communications apps are more unified. The default SMS app merges with Google Hangouts.
  • A new launcher makes Android look less cluttered.
  • Searches through Google Now will lead you into a third-party app, if available.

These are just a few of the many features that Android has added to its repertoire. It’s up to you to judge how relevant they are to you. If you notice, though, there’s a significant focus on converging different apps and getting them to interact with one another in different manners (such as Google Now’s new search feature and the SMS/Hangouts fusion).

Maybe not. First, get in touch with your mobile device’s manufacturer and ask them if they will offer an Android 4.4 update. If they say no, you may continue pondering getting a new phone. Otherwise, why get a new one when the new OS appears on your current device?

So, if your manufacturer says no, is a new device worth it? Is a few new and fancy features worth a few hundred dollars? Or maybe you’re looking for a performance upgrade from a slightly sluggish phone that’s struggling to keep up with current apps. Either way, the decision is not going to be easy. But at least you know exactly what to expect out of the OS. And with this information, you’ll have the ability to make a more informed choice.

What is your opinion?

4 comments

  1. Too bad there is no 6th radial button for me :)
    I say “No, I won’t use Android at all”. at least not at this time; I do not trust Google.
    My tablet is an HP TouchPad 32GB, and I am happy with WebOS, and my HTC Touch pro II phone is a Windows Mobile 6.5 Phone, and I’m happy with MS Office Mobile 2010 on it, aside from a long list of applications, including an FM radio.
    Keeping up with the Jonses these days is hard and quite costly.

  2. No, it’s not. You can upgrade. I am already running 4.4 via Cyanogenmod 11 on my Samsung Galaxy S2.

    This is like saying “is it worth buying a new computer for windows 8?”. No! Just upgrade your existing computer.

    Manufacturers are just holding back the 4.4 upgrade on older hardware to convince you to buy a new phone. Don’t support that behavior.

    • This is a great insight. However, the average consumer isn’t prone to rooting a phone and flashing a ROM. For many of them, an OS upgrade means spending money on a new phone. If only the process of upgrading the OS was simpler. More people would root/flash without a hitch. The general fear (and mine, really) is that one could end up bricking his phone. Such a thing doesn’t happen to computers when an error upon OS installation occurs. Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t design their phones to be robust. Instead, they generally lead people into buying new versions of their phones. Yes, this behavior should be discouraged.

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