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It's taken a long time, but stock Android is finally good enough for me

Stock Android lacked loads of features, but something happened in the last five or six years. It got good.
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Published onMay 26, 2024

Nokia G60 5G homescreen
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

I never really understood the fuss about stock Android back in the day. It seemed like every tech enthusiast praised the Nexus and “pure Android” experience in the mid-2010s, but I simply wasn’t on board with that.

Sure, it was fast and lacked bloatware, which you couldn’t say about many Android skins back then. However, I still maintain that it was anemic and overrated, especially compared to software overlays from LG, Samsung, HUAWEI, and Xiaomi. At the time, fast updates weren’t even a guarantee for stock Android phones, either, despite being touted as a benefit for Android One phones (remember them?).

Something’s changed in recent times, though. It seems that stock Android has finally become good enough for me in the last few years. Here’s why.

Do you use a phone that runs a stock(ish) version of Android?

4281 votes

Stock Android quietly improved in leaps and bounds

Nokia 7 plus

The last time I used a stock Android phone (Pixel phones and my Pixel 7 Pro don’t count, thanks to the Pixel UI) was back in 2017 or 2018 with HMD’s Nokia phones. That was a fine but barebones experience compared to phones from other brands at the time. Perhaps my biggest bugbear was that scrolling screenshots weren’t supported back then, as I actually used (and continue to use) them for work.

Stock Android lacked plenty of other features, too. Some of the more notable omissions in my book were screen recording, file lock functionality, a system-wide dark mode, Wi-Fi sharing, and a desktop mode.

Loads of features were missing from stock Android but present in big-name Android skins.

I’ve come to a quiet realization over the last couple of years, though. Stock Android actually seems good now, and I wouldn’t mind using a pure Android phone again. The platform has gained plenty of notable additions since 2018, including most of the aforementioned features. This is on top of a host of other handy additions, such as camera/mic indicators, a one-handed mode, an easily accessible notification history, and notification permission.

All of these new features come together to make a pure take on Android that no longer feels anemic. I don’t feel like I’d be making a big compromise on features if I ever bought a stock Android phone.

Stock Android is almost on equal footing with OEM skins

Motorola Moto G 5G (2024) app drawer
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

There are still some features from third-party Android skins that I’d like to see on stock Android, though. The top item on my wishlist is per-app volume controls, although we’re also long overdue for an official desktop mode. Brands like Samsung are also ahead of pure Android and Google when it comes to foldable-specific multi-tasking, dual-screen functionality, and more. Plus, I’d also love to see Google officially bring a few more Pixel features to pure Android, like the Now Playing lock screen ticker and the ability to copy content from the Recents menu.

Nevertheless, as someone who historically steered clear of stock Android for their own purchases, I’m happy to admit I wouldn’t hate a phone with this software in 2024.

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