Upgrade Alert: Samsung is done updating the Galaxy S8 and S8+

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,073   +130
Staff member
Bottom line: Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+ recently reached end-of-life status with the Korean tech giant, meaning it’ll no longer receive security updates of any kind. In this day and age, it's incredibly risky to run a smartphone that can't receive regular security updates.

As Droid Life highlights, both of the former flagships have been on a quarterly update schedule for the past year or so. Before that, Samsung was supplying updates for them on a monthly basis.

Samsung launched the flagships on April 21, 2017, and they were generally well received by critics thanks to their larger screens, curved sides and a shift to USB-C for charging.

As is the case with modern flagships, the S8’s time in the limelight was short as Samsung introduced its successor, the Galaxy S9, in March 2018. Still, Samsung’s willingness to provide security updates for four full years in impressive.

For comparison, Apple’s latest iOS 14 software is compatible back to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, both of which were released in September 2015.

With the change, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are now the oldest mainline phones still being supported by Samsung – that is, if you exclude the Galaxy S8 Active and S8 Lite, although those were released after the standard S8 and S8+.

Image credit smild.ch, withGod

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ikesmasher

Posts: 3,100   +1,492
"For comparison, Apple’s latest iOS 14 software is compatible back to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, both of which were released in September 2015."

Apple also just released a security update for iOS 12 yesterday, supporting devices as far back as the iphone 5S (which came out in 2013).

something something planned obsolescence something something
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,489   +3,321
TechSpot Elite
"For comparison, Apple’s latest iOS 14 software is compatible back to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, both of which were released in September 2015."

Apple also just released a security update for iOS 12 yesterday, supporting devices as far back as the iphone 5S (which came out in 2013).

something something planned obsolescence something something
Security updates are still being done for older phones, you don't get major OS updates.

Something something Apple did it, they got the appropriate amount of flak from it.

Something something right to repair, Apple is intentionally blocking simple hardware repairs.
 

seeprime

Posts: 534   +603
I have a cousin that only uses his phone for phone calls and rare web searches. His Samsung Note 4 lasted until last year when he could no longer find a new battery for it. Whether a device is obsolete is dependent on how it is used, after security updates end.
 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 256   +348
Samsung: Don't worry customers. Even though the S8 isn't obsolete in terms of hardware and how well it performs, we just don't want you to continue to use the same old phone so we're no longer offering updates/security patches to your phone.

Customers: But....

Samsung: Yes, we understand your concerns. You just have to realize that we're not making money off you at the moment and that's just not acceptable. From a company standpoint, you're not valuable to us. You are welcome to come and purchase a new phone of the S10 or newer models. We understand that your phone is very capable and able to take any new updates that work just the same on the newer phones, but again we come around to the point that you're not valuable to us because you haven't purchased a new phone in the past 4 years.

Customers: But....

Samsung: We could keep updating the software for your phone, but we just don't make any money from it. So we understand your frustration here. We really do. You'd love to keep using your phone with all the latest and greatest security patches and updates, but that just won't be a viable option on our end. So, we can certainly keep supporting you once you spend more money to obtain a newer phone such as the S20 or even better yet, the S21. You could certainly look towards a S10, but in another year you'd be in the same boat as you are now. A spot where we just don't want to support your phone anymore and we need you to keep spending money on new products even though your older, yet fully functional hardware is still going strong without any problems.

(Yes, I have a S8. The phone still holds a good charge - without making calls or using it much the battery will go 2+ days before needing to be charged. The camera is good. Still has more than enough storage space for my needs. The only downside to Samsung - on any of their mobile devices - is that horse$hit Bixby software).
 
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trparky

Posts: 893   +924
(Wall of Text)
Pretty much that. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Android OEMs see these devices as a way to print money and trust me, they haul the green stuff in by the semi-truck full every year while making record breaking profits every stinkin' quarter. (I'm looking at you Samsung!)

The stupid part about all of this is that when you compare the cost of a flagship Samsung device against a flagship Apple device, more often than not the price is very nearly the same. Yet, Samsung doesn't give you the same level of software and security patch support that Apple gives you; not even close. But why? Again, as @Neatfeatguy has mentioned in his wall of text, it doesn't make Samsung any money.

But then I have to ask... why does Apple do it? What's in it for Apple to keep supporting older devices? What sets them apart from Samsung? I'd love to know what Apple thinks in this regard because I have to admit that Apple's doing it the right way.

Another funny thing I'd like to bring up. People in the Android world seemingly take this kind of behavior from the likes of Samsung and the other OEMs laying down. They don't care. Why is that? Yet, if Microsoft did the same thing with Windows, these same people would be outside of Microsoft's Redmond, WA campus with pitchforks and torches. Why the double-standard? Why is it fine when the Android OEMs kick you in balls but not so with Microsoft?
 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 256   +348
But then I have to ask... why does Apple do it? What's in it for Apple to keep supporting older devices? What sets them apart from Samsung? I'd love to know what Apple thinks in this regard because I have to admit that Apple's doing it the right way.

A lot of folks using Apple devices, namely phones in this case, Apple has many of them wrapped around their finger.

Got an Apple iPhone? Most people I know that has one also has an Apple Watch. Then you also have the walled off enclosure of Apple's app store. Apple has more to lose if people jump ship and go else where.

Keep those older devices going and folks will keep all their money going to Apple through the apple app store and invest in new watches and so on.

I'll keep using my S8 until it dies or some kind of functionality fails (my last smartphone the internal microphone failed, couldn't talk to anyone that called so that was when I replaced it). Why replace something that still works when all you're doing is buying something new with similar hardware and functionality of what you already have?
 

trparky

Posts: 893   +924
I'll keep using my S8 until it dies or some kind of functionality fails (my last smartphone the internal microphone failed, couldn't talk to anyone that called so that was when I replaced it). Why replace something that still works when all you're doing is buying something new with similar hardware and functionality of what you already have?
Until, of course, an exploit comes around that can't be fixed by simply Google pushing something through their own means. For instance, a kernel or driver vulnerability and we know that these kinds of things do pop up every so often.
 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 256   +348
Until, of course, an exploit comes around that can't be fixed by simply Google pushing something through their own means. For instance, a kernel or driver vulnerability and we know that these kinds of things do pop up every so often.
So, it's a phone. I don't keep anything exciting on it. Anything of importance I do from my computer. If it comes to a point I can't make functional use from it, then I'll look to replacing it.
 

trparky

Posts: 893   +924
So, it's a phone. I don't keep anything exciting on it. Anything of importance I do from my computer. If it comes to a point I can't make functional use from it, then I'll look to replacing it.
I disagree. Security is something that must always be taken seriously no matter what.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 3,292   +1,472
I have a cousin that only uses his phone for phone calls and rare web searches. His Samsung Note 4 lasted until last year when he could no longer find a new battery for it. Whether a device is obsolete is dependent on how it is used, after security updates end.
Truth isn't as fun as going after companies for something you already knew or what you didn't even think about when you bought the product. But when you read about it later? Oh boy! Fangs out!
 

trparky

Posts: 893   +924
What specifically can you say about not getting any more updates should cause him to worry?
There has been a history of vulnerabilities that have affected either kernel-mode drivers or the kernel itself. For instance, there was one vulnerability back in 2017 that affected Broadcom Wi-Fi chips in which a malformed data packet sent via Wi-Fi could cause either the kernel to crash or cause malicious code to be executed in the context of the kernel. I shouldn't need to tell you that that's bad.

If you don't get the update, you're sh*t of luck. Google can't fix that, that's kernel-land; only Samsung can fix that.
 

Danny101

Posts: 1,612   +691
If you happen to get the bootloader unlocked, yes. But if your carrier decided to lock that sh*t down, you're screwed.
True. But I only purchase unlocked phones. Besides, that should be easily addressable since the issue 2011 onward. With a phone that old, there's ways to get it unlocked. It may be a PITA to get all of that done (unlocked and rom installed), but it is indeed doable.
 

trparky

Posts: 893   +924
True. But I only purchase unlocked phones. Besides, that should have been addressed in 2011. With a phone that old, there's ways to get it unlocked. It may be a PITA to get all of that done (unlocked and rom installed), but it is indeed doable.
But considering how much you spent for that device, the company who made it should be forced to keep it up to date. And don't sit there and tell me that Samsung can't afford to do it because their last quarter's earnings report says otherwise. This really all comes down to greed and the upgrade treadmill that they want you to be forever on.

My thought on the subject is that if Apple can do it, why can't Samsung? There's no reason other than pure greed.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 3,292   +1,472
There has been a history of vulnerabilities that have affected either kernel-mode drivers or the kernel itself. For instance, there was one vulnerability back in 2017 that affected Broadcom Wi-Fi chips in which a malformed data packet sent via Wi-Fi could cause either the kernel to crash or cause malicious code to be executed in the context of the kernel. I shouldn't need to tell you that that's bad.

If you don't get the update, you're sh*t of luck. Google can't fix that, that's kernel-land; only Samsung can fix that.
You haven't convinced me in the least.
Something with wifi back in 2017 is your primary example? I should worry about something that could have happened in 2017 that I'm first hearing about in 2021? Um.... What?!

I noticed early on in my life that you learn by what you hear, and what you don't hear, and consumers being personally affected by mobile security flaws do not come up. Now do I think that I don't need holes patched? Of course not. I'm the first to update my OS's. But I'm not gonna think about upgrading my phone just because of a lack of security updates. That wouldn't even be a top 3 reason to upgrade, and anyone doing the same should do what they want until enough people are affected by it and it becomes a concerning issue.

What ifs are fun but you shouldn't put so much time into them. You miss out on more important things if you aren't careful.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 324   +333
And then there's the Lineage OS and other custom roms that will keep it going until it breaks.

True. Custom roms have come a long way, and there's no reason not to use them if you have a phone that isn't supported anymore. Back when I started playing with custom roms around 2011/2012, I couldn't recommend them as daily drivers - CyanogenMod was unstable, full of bugs, a battery hog and in some cases with missing functionality (I.e. no bluetooth, GPS or front camera despite the device supporting it), in all devices I tried it.

Nowadays, LineageOS is often more stable, with more features and much better battery life than stock roms.
 
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Tom Yum

Posts: 86   +205
I feel with these sort of update policy comparisons between Apple and Android, it needs to be highlighted that significant parts of Android OS exist within the Play Store and continue to get updated well beyond the last OS update from the manufacturer. This compares to Apple where the App store only updates apps, and no elements of the OS get updated outside of iOS updates. So once Apple drop your phone from their iOS updates then your phone is truly stuck at whatever version it is (and any vulnerabilities that arise), whereas with Android elements of the OS that sit within the Play Store will continue to get updated (and vulnerabilities resolved) until Google drops support to that particular API baseline which is often many years after OS update support stops. Really the only part of Android that stops getting updated is the hardware drivers (because Google can't control that) and the kernel (because of the drivers). Everything above that now gets updates through Google Play.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 131   +103
I feel 4 years is a good duration for the Android ecosystem. It still can't match iOS, but that is a high bar to meet in the first place. Android phones are too fragmented in terms of hardware and software, I feel its actually not easy to update without causing some issues.