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Why the Galaxy S III might never get an update to Android 4.4 KitKat

Phone
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Last updated: April 21st, 2014 at 18:40 UTC+02:00

Every time Google unveils a new version of Android, it's followed by months of questions from smartphone owners about if and when their particular device will get an update to said Android version. Android 4.4 KitKat, arguably the nicest version of the OS yet, was announced in November last year, and naturally, the same story enfolded soon after. Galaxy S III owners have been among the most vocal in inquiring when Samsung's 2012 flagship will get KitKat, and we thought it would be a good idea to write this article to answer that query with a disappointing “no”.

Now, this doesn't come officially from Samsung, and many will cry out that it's unfair that one of the best-selling Samsung devices might spend its lifetime on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Alas, it's something that seems unavoidable, for two major reasons: the Galaxy S III is now more than 18 months old, and it has already received two major Android updates already.

Google and all Android manufacturers follow a a standard rule: every Android device will get up to 18 months of support when it comes to software updates. Now, while that's a pretty short time period (especially when you compare it to Apple, which updated even the 3-year old iPhone 4 to iOS 7 last year), it's unfortunately the rule manufacturers follow quite literally. Even the Galaxy Nexus, a Nexus device, was dropped from support by Google as it was more than 18 months old when Android 4.4 came out (and because the maker of the phone's processor chip was no longer offering updated drivers and binaries for its chipsets.) Samsung will no doubt follow the same rule with the Galaxy S III, which is on its way to complete 24 months on the market.

However, the bigger reason is the fact that the Galaxy S III has already received two major software updates. If you look at history, no non-Nexus Android flagship has ever received more than two major upgrades, including Samsung's existing flagships like the Galaxy S II and the original Galaxy S. The Galaxy S III has actually received three major Android updates, from Android 4.0 to Android 4.3 – yes, it was because Google released 4.3 too soon after Android 4.2.2, but the fact remains that the Galaxy S III is currently on an Android version three major generations newer than the one it launched with.

It is these two reasons that indicate that the Galaxy S III will no longer be seeing any software updates and will be stuck at Android 4.3 (at least for those who don't flash custom ROMs like CyanogenMod.) The Android 4.3 update for the device has been found to be quite buggy, so we do hope that Samsung works on addressing any lingering issues (and, of course, we hope Samsung and other manufacturers will consider increasing the software support lifecycle, to at least two months), but as far as KitKat is concerned, we would suggest not waiting for it to arrive on your Galaxy S III at this point of time.

P.S.: Some will rightly point out that Samsung does this just to make people upgrade to a newer device, and we'd have to agree. Unlike Apple, Samsung (and other manufacturers) make quite a few phones, so continuing to offer support for longer makes little sense in terms of manpower and sales. It's something that is quite bad for the consumer, but since corporations aren't running charities, it's something we can only raise our voice against by voting with our wallets and not spending money on their products until they come around. 

Phone Android 4.4Android 4.4.2Galaxy S IIIGoogleKitKat
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