Dec 03 AT 2:39 PM Nick Sarafolean 23 Comments

Are dual-booting phones the future of Android?


Let’s face it, Android isn’t perfect. It has issues, it has flaws. And sometimes, you just get the urge to change the software that you’re running. The beauty of Android is that you can do that. You can do everything from a simple launcher tweak to a full-blown ROM change. Now, it’s becoming possible to even change the operating system you’re running on.

We first saw this with the ASUS Transformer Book Trio, which ran both Android and Windows 8. On the go, you had an Android and light Windows tablet. But when you plugged it into its keyboard dock, it really came to life with a full blown Intel Core i7 processor, expanded hard drive and larger battery, which turned it into a fully fledged Windows 8 laptop. A unique device, to say the least.

Unfortunately, the Transformer Book Trio was a niche device that never really blossomed. It was struck with a high price that effectively killed the deal for many potential buyers. But the execution of the Transformer Book Trio isn’t the only way to release a dual-OS device.

Just in the last couple of days, we’ve seen the CEO of Jolla, creator of Sailfish OS, come out and say that Jolla is working to allow Sailfish to run on Android hardware. Within just a couple of months, you could run an entirely new operating system on your existing Android device. No need to go out and buy a new high-priced device, just simply do a little bit of work and get it right there on your Android phone. Can we get a round of applause for Jolla for working to make this reality?

I’ll be completely honest; I think Sailfish looks quite nice. And since it’s compatible with Android apps, I’d be perfectly happy with, at the very least, trying it. If it’s as simple as flashing a new ROM onto my phone, I would be entirely up for using it. The UI looks beautiful, and I’m leaning towards optimism that apps designed for Sailfish will look just as nice.

Now here’s a thought. What if we didn’t need to flash it onto our Android phones? What if our phones came pre-installed with Android and Sailfish? Dual-booting Android and Sailfish phones? It’s entirely possible. Both operating systems are rooted in Linux, and because we can flash Sailfish onto Android phones, they must be able to run on the same hardware. With full Android app compatibility, the idea of a phone running both Sailfish and Android sounds quite appealing.

Dual-booting phones could, in fact, be the future of Android. When you press the power button on your phone to boot it up, you could simply have an option asking which OS you wanted to boot into. Let’s be honest, a lot of us certainly wouldn’t say no to that. If you’re really a die-hard Android fan then you can simply boot into Android and run your favorite li’l OS. But if you prefer to shake things up a bit, then you could boot into a different OS such as Sailfish, or even something like Ubuntu for Mobile. Any of the other open source operating systems that also have a Linux core could easily be an option for dual-booting phones.

In the end, it comes down to what you think. Could dual-booting phones be part of Android’s future? Would you want a dual-booting Android phone? Any thoughts you have can be deposited into the comments section below.

A nerd at heart, Nick is an average person who has a passion for all things electronic. When not spending his time writing about the latest gadgets, Nick enjoys reading, dabbling in photography, and experimenting with anything and everything coffee. Should you wish to know more about him, you can follow him on Twitter @nsarafolean.

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  • Nigel

    I think geeks will LOVE dual-boot, as they can try more OS. You also missed the opportunity to run different versions and flavors of the same OS, e.g. dual-boot Android 4.4 / 4.3.

    A few will find it useful, say for features / performance which are different in each OS. Dual-boot PCs (e.g. laptops) have been around for ….. 20 years (Lilo, now Grub2).. and I’d have dual-boot with primarily Windows apart from a few performance-heavy apps which were faster in Linux, progressively more Linux and booting to Windows for a few apps, now I’m exclusively Linux on desktop and using Android on my phone and as portable longer-battery-life media player (online and offline media).

    The larger tablets, like the Google Nexus 10, many apps are not optimised for the larger screen, its “wasted” space. Some have thought the Android in 10″ is not a good combination. So I can see some who’d like a dual-boot Tablet, and swap between OS either for whimsical play or legitimate features/performance reasons.

    I’d kind like to swap between say Ubuntu, Android, Chrome OS on the one device.

    • yoaj

      I too put my vote in for android, ubuntu, and chrome booting

      • CamDeezy

        Chrome OS, FOSHO! I’d love a tablet/laptop hybrid with both Windows and Android, though.

  • David Kelly-Durrant

    An interesting concept and Sailfish appeals.

  • little bhudda

    Nice article, but I think you are not taking the thought far enough: how about a VM on the hardware, and the OSes running on top of the VM in parallel? OS as an app…

    Neither Google nor Jolla are going to go for it, I’m afraid, but it is where your thinking ultimately goes…

    • CD

      Exactly the point I was going to make. This will take BYOD to the next level.

  • widy-rockz

    Nobody’s perfect,No OS’s perfect.bcause os made by man.not by god

  • Adrien C.

    I already use a Google Play Edition ROM on my S4 as daily driver, and a Touchwiz in dual boot for the internal Ant+ and Camera.

    If this was officially supported, it’s impossible to say no to it.

  • CTown

    Sounds great to me. I just hope that dual-booting two operating systems will not take up all the room in the flash storage on phones. Afterall, the 16GB version of the GS4 has less than 10GB of space left thanks to all of Samsung’s “features”.

    Also, don’t forget Ubuntu Mobile and Firefox OS are also available on select Android devices. Firefox OS’s base is actually a fork of Android which describes why it has been ported to Android devices. However, Mer and Ubuntu will be able to use Android software (software compiled using Google’s C library, bionic) on systems using GNU’s C Clibrary (glibc) due to compatibility layer called “hybris” which is made by a Jolla developer.

  • Fawad Mirzad

    Dual booting is a good option for tech savvies but majority of users want the simplest products that do not require them to lean it in days.
    They just want some that do not have a lot of options, the simpler the better.
    But for us (The tech community ) the more option and customization , the better, the more adventure , the better.

  • Fred

    I’m not interested in dual boot mobile devices, really I do not see the point of this except to satisfy my geeky side. What I’m looking for is a mobile device than can become my laptop/desktop computer when I hook it to a screen and USB keyboard/mice. Something Motorola tried with the Atrix and that the Ubuntu Edge smartphone tried as well. With mobile devices going to quad or octo cores and turning now into 64 bit support, I don’t see why this could not happen. This would really be a MAJOR evolution.



  • Art

    I have my old HTC HD2, which was released in 2009. Being the first 4.3 inch capacitive touchscreen with multitouch, and originally running Windows Mobile 6.5 on a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU and 512MB of RAM, it now DUAL boots into Android 4.3 Jelly Bean AND Windows Phone 7.8. Still running up to this date.

    • i TOO WANT

      I too want windows and android. How did you manage???

  • aranea

    How many times do you reboot your phone in a month? A phone is not like a laptop. You don’t turn it on or off. The scenario described may work on a tablet or a hybrid device but not on a phone.

  • Harsh Solanki

    sounds great…. and so as this app…do check it out guys…

  • The Tablet Addict

    I think if developers expand on the dual-screen #YotaPhone concept then they may be able to add another OS into the mix, whereas you don’t have to reboot to get a different OS, instead just flip the phone over to the other screen and both OS’s are running simultaneously.

  • brucebuffett

    Ubuntu for android I think is the way to go. I had an atix2 which worked ok with webtop 3. But having Ubuntu on my phone would be ideal. If they could I would send my phone for them to install Ubuntu for android or if they could make an easy sideload.

  • unwiredmedic

    I see a lot more potential for multi-boot devices with Intel eeking its way into the smartphone and tablet market. When I first saw the Dell Venue 8, I thought it would be ideal for a Windows 8 lite and a new version of Android. You could run a lot of stuff through Citrix on the Windows side of things too, to conserve HD space and processor demand. You could run virtuals too. If we can get Android up to a 64-bit architecture, then we could push the demand for more secure systems and 64-bit mobile devices.

  • G2

    NO. Fix the lagging issue first.

    Hi! Here’s my humble entry. :)
    plese watch and like.

  • Skis03

    Dual booting would be nice for trying all the cool roms out there while still having your normal stock rom running.

    • CamDeezy

      Brilliant. They could develop it so you could create as many virtual machines as your storage can handle. That would be epic to do some testing on a new ROM, then delete or backup your old ROM once you confirm stability.

  • CamDeezy

    This is what I have been saying all along. Ever since I saw ASUS produce that 19 inch tablet with both Windows and Android on it, I’ve thought they should have the option to reboot into different OS’s. There might be a lot of hurdles for the manufacturer, but in the end it could be the most versatile device available. Same thing goes for the PSP Vita or the Nvidia Sheild. There is a market for a REAL gaming device that can also run Android. One day… we will have the all-in-one.