Samsung is upping the ante on Android updates and offers four years of security updates on many of its Android devices. The company’s full update package now has three years of major operating system updates and four years of security updates, surpassing even what Google offers in the Pixel lineup.
In the announcement, Samsung says, “Over the past decade, Samsung has made significant progress in optimizing and accelerating its regular security updates. Samsung worked closely with its operating system and chipset partners, as well as with more than 200 carriers worldwide, to ensure billions of Galaxy devices receive timely security patches. ” Samsung has experimented with bringing four years of updates to its own Exynos SoC devices, but now it appears that the company is also adding models from Qualcomm.
Please note that these are not necessarily monthly security updates. Samsung says it is delivering four years of “monthly or quarterly” updates, depending on the age of the device. Samsung’s current security bulletin page has the Galaxy S9 (2018) on the monthly update plan, while the Galaxy S8 is on the quarterly plan. So that sounds like three years of monthly security updates and one more year of quarterly updates.
As for which phones are getting four years of security updates, the answer is “a lot.” It’s not just about flagships; Many mid-range devices and tablets dating back to 2019 are included, resulting in “more than 130 models”. Here is the complete list.
- Foldable Galaxy 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 +
Samsung offers longer Android security updates than anyone else, but the company is still one of the slowest major OEMs when it comes to delivering Android OS updates. It took the company three months to start the Android 11 launch, while Google, OnePlus, Oppo, and Xiaomi were faster. Samsung has yet to participate in Google’s Android beta program, which, surprise, is used by all the fastest companies. Samsung also refuses to follow Android best practices and add update support hassle-free, allowing users to apply all of these updates without incurring significant phone downtime.
Samsung’s new upgrade plan is the best of any Android phone, but it still pales in comparison to Samsung’s favorite competitor Apple. iOS still offers the best upgrade plan in the industry, with support for iOS 14 dating back to the iPhone 6S, a phone released in 2015.
Google is now in the embarrassing position of not offering the best upgrade plan for its own operating system, but it’s hard to imagine the company not rapidly increasing the Pixel lineup to match Samsung. Google is, after all, where most of these patches come from, as it is the company that develops Android. The Android source code still receives monthly security updates covering the four most recent versions of Android, dating back to Android 8.1. If Google wanted to, it could do three years of major updates and then four plus years of security updates after that. The code is out there.
There’s still a lot of work to do, but kudos to Samsung for pushing the Android update. Android update situation is slowly improving, one small step at a time.