Here at SamMobile, we get asked all sorts of questions, and in recent months, a recurring query has been about whether the Galaxy S III would be receiving an update to KitKat. There were many signs that it had been cancelled, but then recently, Sprint started rolling out KitKat to its variant of the Galaxy S III (which sports 2GB of RAM, like all US variants), raising hope that the international variant would get it as well. But a leaked document that we published yesterday once again said that the international model would not be updated, so we reached out to Samsung for clarification, and the response we've got is going to disappoint a lot of folks.
According to Samsung, the Galaxy S III and the Galaxy S III mini are not capable of running KitKat smoothly as both have only 1GB of RAM, which has apparently not been enough to get KitKat working properly on either device. Here's the official statement that we received:
“In order to facilitate an effective upgrade on the Google platform, various hardware performances such as the memory (RAM, ROM, etc.), multi-tasking capabilities, and display must meet certain technical expectations. The Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G versions come equipped with 1GB RAM, which does not allow them to effectively support the platform upgrade. As a result of the Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G versions’ hardware limitation, they cannot effectively support the platform upgrade while continuing to provide the best consumer experience. Samsung has decided not to roll-out the KitKat upgrade to Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G versions, and the KitKat upgrade will be available to the Galaxy S3 LTE version as the device’s 2GB RAM is enough to support the platform upgrade.” – Samsung Mobile UK
This is as official as things can get, and Samsung's statement confirms our fears of the amount of RAM being the issue. Now, before you say “but KitKat supports 512MB RAM devices and is running on a couple of new Samsung devices with 512MB of RAM already!”, we will point out that KitKat runs fine with that amount of memory only on stock Android, which does not have any of the added features or bloat that Samsung (and other non-Nexus phones come with.) Also, the newer Samsung devices are running a lighter and newer version of TouchWiz that debuted on the Galaxy S5, which we're guessing is something Samsung doesn't want to bring to the Galaxy S III as it would affect sales of its newer devices (and not to mention those low-end devices don't have all the features that you would find on flagship devices.)
In any case, it looks like Android 4.3 is the last update the Galaxy S III will get (and Android 4.2 on the S III mini), and the official statement should finally put the matter to rest. The Galaxy S III had a good run, going from Android 4.0 to Android 4.3 since launch, but it looks like Samsung won't be extending any further update love to one of its best-selling smartphones.