Getting firmware update notifications from Samsung is a routine matter. Most of the time you might just tap on the install button without even looking at the changelog. Imagine the one time that you did and saw that the update was actually installing apps mandated by the Russian government.
That might not make a difference to you if you’re living in Russia. You’ll definitely freak out if you were living anywhere else. So imagine how freaked out a user in the United Kingdom was when a recent update told him he’d be getting bloatware sanctioned by the Kremlin.
Russian government bloatware for the UK? That’s a big no!
A bit of background is necessary to understand what happened here. Russia passed a law in April this year that made it mandatory for smartphones in the country to have government-issued apps. Since then, Samsung has added these apps to its smartphones in Russia through firmware updates.
The BBC reports that Andrew Edmans, who lives in the UK, bought a used Galaxy Z Fold 2 from Amazon Marketplace last month. Upon updating the device, he saw that the changelog mentioned a decree of the government of the Russian Federation that required mandatory apps to be installed with this update.
Edmans was understandably freaked out. He reached out to Samsung and was ultimately escalated to the head office team that confirmed this was nothing more than a notification error. No Russian apps had been downloaded on his phone.
In a statement provided to the BBC, Samsung said that “We can confirm that the wording of the message was incorrect and shared with a limited number of UK customers due to a technical error. The upgrade received was UK-specific and no third-party apps from Russian have been installed on devices, or have access to the device itself. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused by this.”
It’s good that Samsung clarified what happened here. Those who were hit with this update notification would certainly have been freaked out. Hopefully, Samsung won’t give such a scare to users in other markets.