Samsung to Provide at Least 4 Years of Android Security Updates on Many Devices

Posted on February 22, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 37 Comments

Samsung announced today that it will provide at least four years of Android security updates on its Galaxy Z, S, Note, A, M, XCover, and Tab products.

“At Samsung, our number one priority is offering the best and most secure mobile experience to our users, and we’re constantly optimizing the security of our products and services,” Samsung Mobile VP and head of security Seungwon Shin says. “Mobile devices play such an important role in our lives, it’s only natural that we want to hold onto them longer. That’s why, thanks to the latest technology advancements, we’re committing to securing Galaxy devices for even longer, so that everything that should be kept protected stays protected.”

Previously, Samsung had committed to at least three years of support for most of those device types. But the firm says it has worked closely with Google, its chipset partners, and wireless carriers around the globe to dramatically streamline and speed up the delivery of regular security updates, and that it is committed to keeping its billions of users safe.

Here’s the complete list of devices that will get at least four years of updates:

  • Galaxy Foldable devices: Fold, Fold 5G, Z Fold2, Z Fold2 5G, Z Flip, Z Flip 5G
  • Galaxy S series: S10, S10+, S10e, S10 5G, S10 Lite, S20, S20 5G, S20+, S20+ 5G, S20 Ultra, S20 Ultra 5G, S20 FE, S20 FE 5G, S21 5G, S21+ 5G, S21 Ultra 5G
  • Galaxy Note series: Note10, Note10 5G, Note10+, Note10+ 5G, Note10 Lite, Note20, Note20 5G, Note20 Ultra, Note20 Ultra 5G
  • Galaxy A series: A10, A10e, A10s, A20, A20s, A30, A30s, A40, A50, A50s, A60, A70, A70s, A80, A90 5G, A11, A21, A21s, A31, A41, A51, A51 5G, A71, A71 5G, A02s, A12, A32 5G, A42 5G
  • Galaxy M series: M10s, M20, M30, M30s, M40, M11, M12, M21, M31, M31s, M51
  • Galaxy XCover series: XCover4s, XCover FieldPro, XCover Pro
  • Galaxy Tab series: Tab Active Pro, Tab Active3, Tab A 8 (2019), Tab A with S Pen, Tab A 8.4 (2020), Tab A7, Tab S5e, Tab S6, Tab S6 5G, Tab S6 Lite, Tab S7, Tab S7+

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Comments (42)

42 responses to “Samsung to Provide at Least 4 Years of Android Security Updates on Many Devices”

  1. Avatar

    fishnet37222

    This actually makes good business sense since people tend to keep their devices longer than they used to.

  2. Avatar

    waethorn

    Only 4?!?


    Apple has been doing 5-6 years of full OS updates for every iPhone since the iPhone 4s from 2011, with the singular exception of the iPhone 5c, which got 4.

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      God, imagine being stuck with the same phone for 5-6 years. \shudders Also \kidding not kidding
      • Avatar

        yoshi

        In reply to paul-thurrott:


        I can barely make it 5-6 months. But as my wife reminds me each time, I have a problem with phones.

      • Avatar

        Saarek

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        At first I typically upgraded my iPhone every year, but as the line matured my upgrade cycle has been ever increasing.


        In the first five generations we had a huge leap every single time. Out of the first five iPhones the only one I did not own was the iPhone 4. My 4S then took me through to the 6S, my 6S took me to the iPhone XS Max and I just cannot see any reason as to why I'd want to replace that phone at the moment.


        What will a new phone get me that's worth shelling out the money for?


        4G is more than fast enough to stream video and audio/download apps.

        The camera system, although not class leading anymore, is still very good.

        Speed wise it's still faster than most mid range Android handsets on the market today and I never ever have any slow down.

        The battery is still rated at 89% health and gets me through a whole day.

        It's on the latest iOS and likely will be for the next 3 years+.


        Paul, I understand why you upgrade so often. After all, testing and reviewing tech makes you money. But a high end smartphone now is very much like a good laptop, the average person should feel no compelling reason to upgrade their MacBook Pro after just 6 months or a year, it's the same with phones.


        • Avatar

          Paul Thurrott

          Obviously, I can separate my needs as a user from my needs as a reviewer. I would not hold on to any phone for more than three years, personally, and probably not for more than two. Computers don't change much over several years, but phones still do, especially the cameras.
          • Avatar

            Jim Lewis

            In reply to paul-thurrott:

            But not everyone in the world is as well off as most of us. I could buy 20 premium phones a year every year if I wanted (just to make up a ridiculous number I could easily afford). But I have several siblings who can barely afford a cellular plan with data. So a smartphone that has features that they can enjoy but lasts a long time until they truly feel they want/need to get a new one is important to them. I guess if your site is only for well-off folks - just getting by folks need not apply - your advice is entirely reasonable about keeping phones too long. Just like you say about Windows and its aspiring featuritis, unless you take photos for a living, how good a phone camera do most folks really need??? - most folks probably don't even bother to try to understand all of the features smartphone cameras offer these days

          • Avatar

            jgraebner

            In reply to paul-thurrott:

            It seems to me that one of the the biggest reason for the shorter upgrade cycle on phones is that most people carry them everywhere they go and spend a good chunk of time using them every day. While the durability of phones, particularly at the high end, has improved, most are still likely to be pretty beat up after 2-3 years.

            • Avatar

              Paul Thurrott

              Yep, that makes sense. I think the sheer amount of usage also adds a bit of performance creep, and while resetting and starting over from scratch might not "fix" that, I bet it would improve things for most. It's just something most don't do with phones (I'm guessing).
  3. Avatar

    retcable

    It is good that Samsung is making this commitment to providing just the Android security updates, but iPhone users will still have the complete peace of mind knowing that their devices will receive every iOS update that Apple issues on the day/date that they are released as long as their device is supported, which right now is 4-5 years, should they decide to keep their device that long. Most people do not keep their phones that long but it's great to know that it will be supported with privacy, security, and identity updates should they decide to keep using it. This is something that Android users have never and probably never will have available to them. None of Google's efforts and programs have had any effect.

    • Avatar

      jgraebner

      In reply to retcable:

      Most iPhone users still don't seem to understand that iOS and Android updates are very different things. The vast majority of feature upgrades are handled through services or applications that are externalized from the main OS and handled through the Play Store. The major Android version releases typically have a much smaller change list than major iOS updates and frequently the focus is either on pulling into the OS features that Samsung and others had already implemented on their own OS overlays or are related to emerging hardware advancements. For the typical user of a Samsung phone, major OS upgrades are barely noticeable and 4 years of security updates should be completely sufficient.


      Just yesterday, this site posted an article about some Android feature upgrades that were just released to everyone on the last 6 years' worth of Android releases. While they weren't huge upgrades, they included the types of things that would likely be part of a major OS release on iOS. That type of update is common on Android.


      • Avatar

        retcable

        In reply to jgraebner:

        Just like iOS users don't understand what Android OS and Google's monthly security updates are, Android fans seriously downplay the need for OS and security updates at all in an effort to hide the fact that users have no assurance that their device will receive timely updates to protect their security and identiy across the entire life of their device. Or any updates at all.


        And that is not hyperbole, I have owned Android devices that did not receive any updates the entire time I owned them. Or just one. My old LG V30 is a glaring example of that. It received ONE Android OS update over the 3 years I owned it and was 6 months behind on the monthly security updates when I got rid of it. I'm sorry but that it totally unacceptable in today's world of malware and other risks.


        Yes, 4 years should be plenty of time to cover the average lifetime of a cellphone. But at the same time, I think it is a total pipe-dream to think that any manufacturer or carrier is going to actually support their devices for that long. I hope it happens but we shall see.

        • Avatar

          jgraebner

          In reply to retcable:

          Yes, that's unquestionably been an issue on Android in the past, but Google's introduction of the monthly security updates has improved the situation dramatically. Samsung has been very timely with the security updates for quite a while now and, of course, the Pixel phones all get every update right away. I think that other brands do, unfortunately, still tend to be slower about it.


  4. Avatar

    mikegalos

    And then people complain when Windows 7 and Windows XP are no longer supported.

    Or, to be fair, equally old versions of iOS, OS X and macOS.

  5. Avatar

    dftf

    Be interesting to see how Google responds, given their own devices "only" get 3 years -- as do any devices in the "Android One" program they advocate (in the UK, mostly Nokia devices, though a couple of Motorola models also are).


    I wonder if they'll suddenly jump-up to 4 to match?

  6. Avatar

    tomb1776

    My last samsung was a S9+... I used to buy every other year as they made the two year old 'flagship' obsolete, while the iPhones were usually on their 2nd (or third) hand me down owner... with the cost of my (T-Mobile) onePlus 8 5G, I'll be sitting on the sidelines for another year yet!

  7. Avatar

    sandy

    The bit I want is quick deployment of the monthly security updates (for both Android & the underlying hardware platform support stuff, such as driver updates).


    Samsung promising version upgrades over 4 years is nice, but not as important.

  8. Avatar

    JimP

    What about the Galaxy S9+?

  9. Avatar

    Saarek

    Does this mean that their new phones will receive the latest versions of Android for at least four years, or just that if big security bugs are found in the older versions a patch will be issued out?

  10. Avatar

    dcdevito

    If they even last that long.

  11. Avatar

    legend

    Very good news! The biggest issue with Samsung smartphones is that you need the first day or so to configure them to your liking. Once done, they are very capable and reliable in my experience.

  12. Avatar

    scovious

    When it comes to supporting devices this is good practice, but it still feels low. I have a phone from 2017 and I'm not anticipating an upgrade for another several years. I don't see the value in a 3rd, 4th or 5th camera on a phone, and average phone battery life hasn't changed in 10 years. I would make an exception for a standalone wearable capable of phone calls and texts, should that ever become a reality.

    • Avatar

      dftf

      In reply to scovious:

      Given Google only offer 3 years on their-own devices (as do any that are in the "Android One" program, such as many from Nokia), maybe they'll announce a longer-period to challenge Samsung's offer?


      Though if you want to keep a device as-long-as-possible then get an iPhone. The latest iOS 14 still supports the iPhone 6S released September 2015.


      (As Android devices are typically much-cheaper, it's generally assumed users will upgrade more-often...)

  13. Avatar

    LocalPCGuy

    Does this include existing phones that meet the Samsung criteria, or only new ones starting with a specific version of Android?

  14. Avatar

    rmlounsbury

    Samsung is pretty much your no-brainer choice for Android devices at this point. If you really want pure Android w/exclusive Google Android functionality then the Pixel is still relevant. I don't love the OneUI but it is less offensive in it's latest iteration and Samsung at least allows you to hide or delete some of their junk/duplicate apps.


    I hope all Android OEM's follow Samsung's lead for updates. Phones have reached a point where you do not need to buy a new device every year. There just isn't that much jump in performance, features, or camera capability to justify the treadmill update cycle. A cycle that was, in part, pushed by OEM's terrible update track records.


    This is good news.

  15. Avatar

    jdawgnoonan

    I hope that Samsung and Microsoft take their partnership farther. I love that today the Samsung Cloud for photos and other stuff is actually OneDrive as it integrates seamlessly into my O365 OneDrive for backing up my photos. I wish that Samsung would consider integrating the feed feature from the Microsoft Launcher into OneUI.

  16. Avatar

    digiguy

    Nothing really new here for most devices... It was already supposed to be the case when they announced the 3 years of OS updates this summer.

    Samsung has always given an additional year of security updates. The only news is that the extended that to all the A an M devices

  17. Avatar

    j5

    This is great. But one of the big reasons I left Samsung and went to the iPhone. I hate that it's normal to have a phone payment or "have to" drop hundreds now over a thousand for a cellphone. Glad my Samsung friends are getting some update love 👍!

  18. Avatar

    crunchyfrog

    Samsung has been good about providing steady updates for some time now. I suppose this just makes it official though.

    • Avatar

      wright_is

      In reply to crunchyfrog:

      Yes, I was surprised when I came back. My previous phone was an S3 and it got 3 updates in 18 months!

      My S20+ and my wife's S10 have been getting monthly updates within a couple of days of Google officially issuing the monthly patches - in fact, I got the February 2021 patches on the 29th January.

  19. Avatar

    crunchyfrog

    Honestly, who keeps a phone this long anyways? I think two years has been my limit and that's rare unless it's in a drawer.

    • Avatar

      RobertJasiek

      In reply to crunchyfrog:

      I use my ordinary phones for 15 - 20 years and would use a smartphone as long. Therefore, presuppositions before buying my first smartphone are replaceable battery and security updates without any artificial limitations on their durations.

      Current smartphone hardware (other than the battery) is more than good enough, I do not need to change them like fashion but I can save money, ressources and energy for the sake of the environment by keeping devices for a long time.

    • Avatar

      codymesh

      In reply to crunchyfrog:

      i've had my phone for 4 years, no intention of replacing it

    • Avatar

      red.radar

      In reply to crunchyfrog:

      It’s a slab of glass and glue that needs to:


      1. connect to the internet
      2. play content
      3. communicate with others


      .... I think we are at a point that a phone as long as it maiNtains connection to a cell network will do those functions just fine.

    • Avatar

      dftf

      In reply to crunchyfrog:

      7 years may be true for some Apple users, as the latest iOS 14 still-supports the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus models from September 2015.


      I'd dread to think how-bad the battery may be by-now though, for users who haven't ever replaced it...

  20. Avatar

    red.radar

    Would it be out of line for me to say that is not good enough?


    to be clear it’s a step in the right direction but Apple has provided feature and security updates. I think there should be a commitment to go the extra step.

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      This is a step in the right direction.
    • Avatar

      wright_is

      In reply to red.radar:

      Part of the problem is Google. They keep moving forward and new features often require explicit hardware features. There is also the lack of hardware standards, each manufacturer has to take the generic Google blob and tailor it to each hardware generation/platform. That costs a lot of money and, especially on low-end devices, it just isn't economic to do that work. It is a lot different to the Intel world and also very different to the Apple world, where they make the hardware and the software in tandem.

      That said, Samsung already does 2 - 3 upgrades on the premium versions, so 3 years of support, this is extending the security updates into a 4th year and bringing it to more models. Newer versions of the OS are a nice-to-have, but not necessary, security updates on the other hand are critical for a device out on the open internet.

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