Opinion

Samsung is absolutely killing it with Android updates now

Samsung hasn’t always been the best at sending out Android updates for its devices. Those of us who have been using its mobile devices for a while now remember just how frustrating the wait would get. We’d see devices from other manufacturers being updated while our Galaxy phones and tablets kept running outdated software.

Those who owned unlocked units in the United States were particularly irritated by this. Mobile carriers in the United States have a lengthy process for sending out updates. So many would buy unlocked units in hopes of receiving updates faster. That didn’t really work.

There were quite a few instances where users with unlocked units had to wait even after all carrier-locked units had been updated. Samsung tried to explain why it took so long even to upgrade the unlocked devices but that didn’t really do much to make users understand.

Even in markets outside the United States, Samsung’s track record with updates left a lot to be desired. This became really evident ever since monthly security patches became a thing. It would often be weeks into a new month before a patch for the previous month would arrive.

One has to realize that managing updates is a tough task for the company. It releases dozens of models every year with different variants. Older models are also supported for security updates up to three years after they’re launched. There are literally hundreds of devices that need to be updated.

That’s aside from the fact that all Samsung phones were supported for Android OS updates up to two years. Sending out a major update for all eligible devices was a massive task in itself. That’s no excuse, though. Samsung’s customers expected it to be on top of things. It didn’t make sense that a company like Samsung wasn’t able to streamline the software update processes for its devices.

We wrote in November 2018 that Samsung needed to show some seriousness about the Android Pie update. Several manufacturers had already released the update while Samsung hadn’t even started the beta program. By then, we had also pointed out that Samsung had significantly improved the frequency of its security updates. It was a sign that Samsung was listening and perhaps things would get better eventually.

2019 was the first time we saw Samsung really address the concerns that many of us had for a long time. Security updates were sent out quickly across all markets. Unlocked device owners in the United States saw their wait times being reduced significantly. The Android 10 beta was launched sooner and made available to more devices.

For example, it took two months for the Android Pie update to be released for unlocked units after the update was first released to the public. On the other hand, unlocked Galaxy S9 owners got the Android 10 update this year in record time, even before some major carriers had released it. This was a major change from what we had previously been used to but certainly a very welcome change.

With One UI, the company has also improved the quality of its custom software. It developed One UI from the ground up to make it easier and simpler to use taller devices. Samsung was no longer stuffing its custom skin with features just for the heck if it. The user interface was cleaned up, made more intuitive and meaningful features were added.

Samsung has gone into overdrive for security updates this year. It’s common now to see the updates for the following month be sent out almost two weeks into the ongoing month. Even the latest One UI 3.0 beta builds its sending out come with the December 2020 patch. Users in all regions are also receiving these updates much faster than before.

The beta for the next major Android OS update was started sooner this year. Samsung opened up the One UI 3.0 Android 11 public beta in the first week of October. It had already seeded betas to developers a couple of months before. The One UI 3.0 beta is offered for even more devices, including the Galaxy Z Fold 2.

Samsung has also made a commitment to release One UI 3.0 for the Galaxy S20 series to the public before the end of December. Given how it’s sending out a couple of new beta builds almost every week there’s no reason to believe it won’t be able to meet that deadline. We can confidently expect most of its flagship and premium mid-range devices to get the One UI 3.0 update by early next year.

Let’s not forget another major commitment that Samsung has made this year. It will now be supporting select devices for three Android OS upgrades. Samsung is now among the very few Android manufacturers that provide this level of support for their devices. The company has done an excellent job by not limiting this just to flagships. Even the Galaxy A51 is on the list of Samsung devices that get three Android OS upgrades.

Customers will greatly benefit from this decision. They can hold on to their Samsung devices for longer, knowing that they will get access to the latest Android features for an additional year. With security updates already guaranteed for at least three years and being sent out diligently, Samsung has done exactly what it needed to do in order to make up for the shortcomings of the past.

This is something that Samsung fans can take great pride in. The company has made noticeable improvements here. These sincere efforts that it has made will go a long way in keeping customers loyal to its brand. It may not be entirely perfect and some users may still not be happy but we have to give credit where it’s due.

Samsung has come a long way since the days we waited for months just for the latest security patch. If this is any indication, we’ll only see Samsung going from strength to strength. That leaves me very hopeful for the future. I’d like nothing more than to see Samsung keep crushing it with updates.

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