Samsung opts to roll out updates less often on select devices

Greg S

Posts: 1,607   +442

One of the major issues Android has as an operating system is the lack of consistent updates across different devices. Some smartphones are running software several versions old and there is little that consumers can do to change that other than altering buying habits.

First, there is the issue that carriers must approve updates to be distributed over-the-air on the majority of Android handsets. Even after a manufacturer offers an update, carriers can further delay the process of distributing the latest software. This is meant to ensure that all software updates are fully compatible with carrier networks but is a delay nonetheless.

Samsung seems to be of the opinion that regular updates are not important to consumers who purchase anything less than flagship phones.

Taking a look at Samsung's Android Security Update policies shows that only the Galaxy S series, Note series and certain Galaxy A series devices receive monthly security patches. Other phones are apparently not important enough to offer the latest security updates. One model in particular that leaves questions open is the Galaxy A8+ that just launched in January 2018. The smaller Galaxy A8 is practically the same phone, so why does one deserve proper updates monthly while the other must wait longer?

More troubling is the fact that these are security updates, not feature updates. It is understandable that less effort is put into ensuring the newest software is compatible with older devices that were inexpensive to begin with, but basic security should not come at a premium. Moderately expensive devices should at minimum remain secure during their warranty period and hopefully several years beyond.

As an owner of a Galaxy S6, I am very disappointed that Android Oreo is not available for my device and shows no signs of appearing anytime soon, if ever. This is certainly no surprise given that it took several months longer than other devices to receive version 7.0 (Nougat). There are rumors circulating that Samsung offers three years of software updates for its current lineup of flagship devices but that may be limited to security updates only.

Unfortunately, Samsung does not allow end users to manually find and install updates. Consumers still are dependent on carriers to push out updates on time, assuming that updates for their device have been produced at all. A locked bootloader has pros for security purposes but also prevents enthusiasts from running the newest software possible. As luck would have it, my device is unable to be unlocked. However, even if it were possible, tripping Samsung's Knox security feature upon unlocking the bootloader would block the use of mobile payment apps.

Samsung has not yet added the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ to its mobile updates page but it is expected that both will be added to the monthly updates category.

For future purchases, software updates should be a large consideration when choosing which device will live in your pocket. Unless you are the type to upgrade often, it would be wise to get confirmation of how long a device will be supported before making a purchase.

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trparky

Posts: 837   +820
As an owner of a Galaxy S6, I am very disappointed that Android Oreo is not available for my device and shows no signs of appearing anytime soon, if ever.
I'm usually not a conspiracy person but I can't help but to think about it this way. We all know that Google has been trying to slim down Android as of late (Android Oreo) so that it can run on lesser hardware in developing nations without as much of a performance penalty. Considering that the S6 was released in April of 2015 that makes for a device that is only 3 years old. There's more than enough hardware horsepower to run Android Oreo, in fact I'd even go so far as to say that putting Android Oreo on the S6 would probably make it take off like a freakin' rocket. But there in lies the problem, if they did release Android Oreo for the S6 people would look at it say "Oh, that last software update was great! It made my phone so much faster! Now I don't need to buy a new device anymore, I can just keep this one." You see, they don't want you to do that; they instead want you to be forever on the upgrade treadmill, it is after all what practically prints the green stuff for them by the semi-truck full.

So in reality, there is no reason for them to hold back software upgrades other than pure greed. There is no technical reason whatsoever!!! Just greed!
 
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trparky

Posts: 837   +820
Never buy an android phone if you want any kind of device support. You want updates, but an iPhone or an android phone with support already established in the third party market.
Yep, that's exactly why I went to the iPhone three years ago and have never looked back.
 

trparky

Posts: 837   +820
This is meant to ensure you are frustrated to the point that you give up, and buy a NEW phone.
And why not? As I stated above, this business model practically prints the green stuff for them by the semi-truck full. Why change what makes tons of money?
 

Lionvibez

Posts: 2,052   +1,425
And this yet another reason why I use a Blackberry Keyone.

The updates are not always on time but you get them. And the crackberry site provides additional support and as soon as a security patch is out someone is putting links to the autoloader on the site. So you can do it yourself and you don't have to wait for the Carriers to get their asses in gear.
 
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NimbusTLD

Posts: 108   +96
My wife's S8+ is still on the October 2017 security patch. Not even achieving quarterly security updates on their flagship is a sad joke.

On the other hand I received the March 2018 security update on my Pixel 2 XL this morning.
 
J

Jibberish18

My wife's S8+ is still on the October 2017 security patch. Not even achieving quarterly security updates on their flagship is a sad joke.

On the other hand I received the March 2018 security update on my Pixel 2 XL this morning.
Was just going to say that my wifes unlocked S8 is still sitting on Nougat while my OnePlus3 has had Oreo for months. The fact that they're going to update Carrier versions before Unlocked really bothers me too.
 
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fktech

Posts: 540   +144
Samsung still sells the best Smart Phones out of the box! Unlike other phones that require an update before first use! Wish the price was lower.
 
I am an android fan, but I agree that the update process is not always the best from the providers. What I like about Android is that we do have alternatives such as lineage OS (and a multitude of other independent releases of Android). All of my dated phones are moved over to Lineage OS and put to use in some form. Some are on Oreo, and if not, a security patched, up to date version of Nougat (even my old Samsung S2 is running Nougat).
 
Either get a Pixel if you want Android or go for an iPhone. Easy choices.
Why? See here for more detail than you could possibly want:
https://twitter.com/SecX13/status/968225118517452800
Interesting chart! I felt my beloved OnePlus was better than that on updates, but in retrospect, that is probably about right. I wonder how long the essential phone will stick at the top of that list. Time will tell. :) I would get a PIxel phone if they weren't so expensive.
 

Wizwill

Posts: 127   +57
I started with a mini-brick Sony dumb phone back 20 years ago (a ringing Christmas gift from my wife!). 15 minutes call time per month but it worked. However, exposed keys were delicate so the handsets only lasted about 18 months. Then came Motorola flip phones and their useful life jumped to about 2 years and had voice dialing that worked pretty well. Then came early so-called 'smart' phones that were barely literate. No voice-dialing for about 5 years.
Now, server-based voice-recognition with made-to-order surveillance capabilities, a fragile glass back for cordless recharging but which prevents replaceable batteries. All that made my Note 4 a long-term keeper, but now, WPA2 "hackers" (based at Samsung?) coupled with no more security updates........ ?
Now that I am no longer working at a trade occupation that physically beats up phones, I guess I will probably have to live with a new Note (9?) soon.