Here's the proof that Marshmallow works fine on really old phones

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© NextPit

Despite Google and manufacturers telling us that old phones don't have enough RAM to handle newer versions of Android, developers and the modding community continue to prove this isn't the case. We've seen several old phones get functional versions of Lollipop, and now some are running Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Here's proof that you can teach an old phone new tricks.

If a week is a long time in politics, then six years is a lifetime in smartphones. But it seems phones born way back in the long-forgotten days of 2009 and 2010 with Android Eclair or Gingerbread installed are actually perfectly capable of running the very latest version of Android.

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Don't believe what you hear about old phones not being able to run new versions of Android. / © ANDROIDPIT

Phones from 2009 can run Marshmallow

The HTC HD2 – a six-year-old phone – just got Marshmallow courtesy of a developer over at XDA who goes by the name of macs18max. The HTC HD2, as you probably don't remember, has a single-core 1 GHz processor (the Snapdragon S1), 512 MB of RAM and 480 x 800 pixel resolution on its 4.3-inch screen. 

With specs like that you'd expect the HTC HD2 to be good for nothing but stopping a stack of papers from flying away, but as always in the modding community, where there's a will, there's a way. Marshmallow has made its way to this dinosaur of a smartphone by way of a port of CM13.

If you have one of these phones stuffed in a drawer somewhere, feel free to hit the thread and flash the latest version of Android on one of the very first Android phones.

That's right: you can get Marshmallow running on the HTC HD2 from 2009. / © HTC

Phones from 2010 can run Marshmallow too

The Nexus S, the second Nexus ever, has also been gifted a Marshmallow ROM courtesy of another resourceful developer by the name of Dmitry Grinberg. Considering the last official update the Nexus S got was Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, this was clearly a labor of love.

But again, it demonstrates that prehistoric smartphones can still run Android. With all the battery and memory optimizations we hear about, this stands to reason, but it's only developers who are willing to put it to the test. We can't expect Google or manufacturers to continue supporting five-year-old phones, but it's nice to know someone still cares.

The Nexus S is also powered by a single-core 1 GHz processor (which, incidentally, was released way back in 2005), and has 512 MB of RAM and the same screen resolution as the HTC HD2 (480 x 800 pixels), on an even smaller 4-inch display.

samsung nexus s
Some Nexus phones never get forgotten. This is the Nexus S. / © Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy S, the original phone from the legendary smartphone line that now boasts the Galaxy S6 Edge at its cutting edge, is also from 2010 and is also running Android 6.0 Marshmallow courtesy of the same XDA dev responsible for the HTC HD2 port.

Once again, this proves that many old devices can handle the latest Android version if only someone cares enough to get it ready for them. It also goes to show that phones used to be built to last much longer than they currently are...

The release that enables all this is based on OmniROM and is detailed over at XDA Developers. It's worth pointing out that, as you may expect, the user experience isn't the best and the custom ROM may be somewhat unstable.

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The Samsung Galaxy S can run Marshmallow. / © Samsung

All kinds of old phones can run Marshmallow

There are plenty more stories out there about phones that are either on the brink of being forgotten by Google, manufacturers and carriers, or are already so far forgotten that it's a surprise even developers remember them, that can run a more recent Android version than the last official update. 

The moral of the story is simple though: don't believe everything the lazy future-focused companies tell you about why your beloved old phone isn't being supported anymore, because technical specs are clearly not the primary factor in whether a phone can support a newer Android version. Satisfying the largest number of paying customers is and supporting these old phones simply doesn't pay.

So if you've got an old phone collecting dust somewhere, go dust it off, show it some love and hit XDA to see if anyone still cares enough about it to gift it Marshmallow. You might just fall in love with your old phone all over again.

How do you feel about Android update cycles? How long do you think phones should be officially supported? Share your views in the comments. 

Matt Pearson

Matt Pearson

Matt Pearson's love for all things tech was sparked in late-80s England by the humble Commodore 64 and has yet to fade. Although his career has mostly seen him work as a news journalist, he's always been a keen observer of the mobile world and has the evangelical certainty of the late-life convert to Android.

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  • Christopher Estep Aug 24, 2016 Link to comment

    Both the Nexus 7s (2012 AND 2013) have CM13 builds available - so do the S3 and S4 (and the even older Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 wifi) - oddly enough, the Tab 4 does not (yet) - nor does the Lenovo Tab 2 A7-30 series (again - also yet).

  • Anthony Denahy Jan 30, 2016 Link to comment

    My Samsung Galaxy S3 is now running Marshmallow (Cyanogenmod 13 - Android 6.0.1!)) beautifully. It is certainly more responsive now, and I'm not as envious of my wife's new phone. In fact I couldn't be happier with my phone now - it is quite fast again (like in 2013), and the camera, messaging, gmail etc all work fine. I did have a small problem with auto-rotation, but after turning some features on and off in Developer tools and rebooting it just came right - don't know what actually fixed it. So - long live good old phones!

  • Alex Ohannes Dec 22, 2015 Link to comment

    I just want to point out, the HTC HD2 was NOT "one of the first Android smartphones" because it never officially was an Android smartphone. It's a phone powered by Windows Mobile 6.5 that has had numerous other versions of Windows, Linux and Android ported to it.

  • Alexander Vlasopoulos Dec 17, 2015 Link to comment

    Gonna try flashing cm13 on my og droid if it's supported.

  • Oscar Rodriguez Murphy Dec 15, 2015 Link to comment

    wow sure hope so because lalipop giving me the creeps

  • Davin Peterson Dec 15, 2015 Link to comment

    Someone had ported Android Marshmallow to the 2012 Google Nexus 7. Remember that Google has drop support for the 3 year old tablet and only made Marshmallow available to the 2013 version

  • Greg1100 Dec 14, 2015 Link to comment

    Got 5.1.1 on an old S3 Galaxy- Gti9300, and Kit Kat 4.4.4 on another S3. I also put 5.1.1 on a Tab 2 7" tablet--P3110.
    Good fun, plus giving an older phone a new lease of life.
    Samsung said they couldn't put KitKat on the S3 because it wouldn't have enough ram to run phone properly- it does, perfectly, when ALL sammy bloat/crapware is binned.

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