Samsung Commits to 3 Generations of Android Updates

Posted on August 18, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 32 Comments

In a nod to the fact that users are holding onto their smartphones for longer now, Samsung said it would provide three generations of Android updates to its recent Galaxy handsets.

“Samsung is committed to supporting our users to fully enjoy the latest mobile experiences while they are using Galaxy devices,” Samsung senior vice president Janghyun Yoon said in a prepared statement. “As people hold onto their devices for longer, we are working to bring secure protection and exciting new features to the devices already in their hands. By supporting up to three generations of Android OS upgrade[s], we are extending the lifecycle of our Galaxy products and making a promise that we will provide a simple and secure mobile experience that takes advantage of the latest innovations as soon as they are available.”

Though the firm is among the best when it comes to keeping its devices up-to-date, Samsung previously only committed to two generations of Android updates. Samsung’s 2020 devices, like the Galaxy S20 line and the Note 20 line, will all receive three major Android updates starting with Android 11 in September.

Eligible Galaxy devices include:

Galaxy S series. The Galaxy S10 and S20 families of handsets plus any upcoming S series devices.

Galaxy Note series.  The Galaxy Note 10 and Note 20 families of handsets plus any upcoming Note series devices.

Galaxy Foldable devices. The Galaxy Z Fold2 5G, Z Fold2, Z Flip 5G, Z Flip, Fold 5G, Fold, and upcoming Z-series devices.

Galaxy A series. The Galaxy A51, A71, and A90 families of handsets plus select upcoming A-series devices.

Tablets. The Galaxy Tab S6 and Tab S7 families of tablets plus any upcoming Tab S series devices.

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Comments (35)

35 responses to “Samsung Commits to 3 Generations of Android Updates”

  1. RobertJasiek

    Make it 7 generations and I start to become interested. Make it 10 generations and I am impressed. 3 generations are nothing but a bad joke. Oh, it was even worse?

    • dftf

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      If you want longer-support, choose Apple instead: the new iOS 14 (arriving late this year) is said to support the iPhone 6S (2015), iPad Air 2 (2014), iPad Mini 4 (2015) and some iPad Pro models from 2015.

      Android devices are typically cheaper, so if you get a device that is supported for the full three-years (say the new Pixel 4a at $349) and keep it for the whole time, then upgrade at the end-of-life, that's around $700-800 for two devices and six years of support between them. Probably quite comparable price-wise to Apple when you think of it that way.

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to dftf:

        In that respect, right. However, still not good enough.

        • dftf

          In reply to RobertJasiek:

          In-fact, looking at the "Android One" Wikipedia article it lists examples of phones each-year that are in the programme, and the cheapest I can see is the Nokia 2.3 which is currently £99 (£83 before VAT; approx $110), released fall 2019, or the Nokia 5.3, released April 2020, currently £149 (£125 before VAT; approx $165).

          So while I do prefer Apple's model, as it means less e-waste overall, still purely considering cost you can get Android devices quite-cheap that will offer the three-years of support.

      • luthair

        In reply to dftf:

        I mean iOS 14 better support the 6S, Apple is still selling it new through carriers to this day.

        I don't think the other posters claims that iOS being lighter is relevant either, even aside from the battery slowdown debacle we've all seen many claims from users that iphone updates slow down their devices.

        I think the real reason we seldom see updates is that the end user is not the OEM's customer, the carrier is the one making the purchase and their only factor is price which ongoing maintenance will increase.

    • red.radar

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      7 generations is unrealistic. The battery in the phone is not replaceable and its only good for about 1000 cycles. So 3 years is well aligned with the lifespan of the hardware.

      People who get longer servicer life are benefiting from light usage, who probally don't care about updates anyways, or living with degraded battery performance.

      • dftf

        In reply to red.radar:

        iOS being more-efficient and their own chipset efficiency likely means people can live with an i-Device for longer compared to Android.

        The iPhone 11, for example, which launched September 2019, has a 3110mAh battery, whereas the new iPhone SE 2020, (April 2020), has a 1820mAh battery. So while I'd not like to still use the iPhone SE 2020 after 7 years, I'd imagine the iPhone 11 by that time will probably have only degraded to be the same battery-capacity as the iPhone SE 2020 was at new!

        1820mAh is still crazy-low though: my original Moto G back from 2013 had 2070mAh...!

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to red.radar:

        OC, I also want a replaceable battery of standardised size.

  2. Jester

    Isn't this just 1 more year of updates? Before I believe it was 2y OS updates and 3y of security updates.

    • dftf

      In reply to Jester:

      "Android One" means from the date an Android phone or tablet first comes onto the market it gets Android OS updates for the first two years, and security-updates for the whole three years.

      What Samsung have announced is their own scheme, and it sounds like they will offer Android OS updates during all of the three years since the device first went to market. So if a handset came-out two years ago, then yes, it will only be one year of new support added, not three years. But that device could now suddenly get the latest Android OS

    • Andi

      In reply to Jester:

      Samsung had 4 years of security updates even before this measure. So now it has 3 years of Android updates and 4 years of security updates. IMO 1 year extra of security updates would be better than 1 year extra of Android updates.

  3. chrishilton1

    Samsung usually take around 3-4 months to release major updates after the Google release in Sept.

  4. JH_Radio

    I have an unlocked Samsung with a Verizon SIM, and it gets the security updates pretty much the same day Google releases them. Can't speak for one tied to the carrier as I've never owned one tied to the carrier.

  5. ebraiter

    Considering quite a few change their phone after the contract goes, this isn't huge for them. Huge for those who stretch it out.

    • wright_is

      In reply to ebraiter:

      It depends. Over here, there is little to no point in getting a contract phone, it isn't any cheaper and you have higher monthly costs.

      Most seem to go with an unlocked phone and keep it until their favourite apps stop working. My brother-in-law and his wife replaced their Galaxy S3 mini and Galaxy S4 mini last year (2012 and 2013 vintage).

      I replace my wife's and my phones when the security patches stop. Stretching that to 3 major versions is good news, that should be 4 years worth of security patches - the monthly security updates are by far the most important thing, a version upgrade is nice, but not essential.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Android barely changes year to year. The only people who stress over version upgrades are tech enthusiasts. This is just hand-waving.
  6. dftf

    Google really ought to push more companies into using the Android One programme. Maybe offer some sort-of bulk-discount for those who do?

  7. JerryH

    Have they gotten better at keeping up to date? It has been 8 months or so since I looked at some co-worker's devices but at that time the devices said they were up to date but were 5 months behind on monthly security patches from Android. At the time I thought to myself that we should not accept that from our hardware vendors. It was like purposely keeping the devices vulnerable to known exploits. Maybe things have improved?

    • wright_is

      In reply to JerryH:

      My wife's S10 and my S20+ get the monthly security updates pushed to them within 2 - 3 days of Google announcing them.

      But I've heard that carriers in the USA often block Samsung updates and carrier free phones in the USA aren't much better off. I only have experience with European devices.

      • gartenspartan

        In reply to wright_is:

        Security updates on US carriers will be a little slower, but usually only by days, not weeks or months. On manufacturers other than Samsung, like LG, carrier phones get much more frequent updates than unlocked variants. But Samsung is probably right up there with Google now in monthly updates. Their Android 10 update rolled out in December 2019, which was a considerable improvement from the past with them.

        • wright_is

          In reply to gartenspartan:

          Good to hear. Someone over at stated that the carriers were delaying Samsung updates by months and unlocked devices weren't treated any better by Samsung - which is exactly the opposite of my experience, with unlocked phones in Europe.

          Maybe their information was outdated or they were talking about version upgrades and not security updates.

    • rmlounsbury

      In reply to JerryH:

      I believe Samsung is pretty quick with security updates and as wright_is pointed out the carriers can be the sticking point for those updates since they add an extra layer of compatibility testing.

      Samsung still takes many months to get the annual Android version update since they have their heavy Samsung One UI skin that needs to be built on top of the latest Android version.

      Either way it is a welcome change with the number of $1000+ handsets they ship now-a-days.

      • jimchamplin

        In reply to rmlounsbury:

        I'll never get why a carrier needs to do "compatibility testing" for a security update. Oh wait, I do get it. They like to overinflate their importance so they can continue to fool people into thinking that the carrier is more than just an overpaid router. That way they can continue to charge too much for what they do.

  8. mclark2112

    I don't follow the Android side of the world, but can a Samsung device be wiped and loaded with vanilla Android? I would suppose it would require rooting, if it is even possible. Which would generally render the device unusable for business purposes.

  9. jhambi

    Cool. Now get rid of Bixby

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