Samsung’s software game has gotten strong, but Apple still reigns supreme

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Last updated: June 14th, 2021 at 14:49 UTC+02:00

Stellar after-sales support game developed into one of the main selling points of Samsung devices in recent years. But compared to Apple, the South Korean giant still has ways to go. Roughly two or three years’ worth of ways, to be more specific.

See, when it comes to smartphone software updates, on the whole, it’s all a matter of perspective. And from Samsung’s point of view, the competition in the Android device segment became laughable lately. To the point that investing in longer security update policies became its best and only move as of late.

This isn’t to understate the importance of regular security updates. Just remind everyone that their importance is largely understated in the eyes of the general public. Software updates do not sell smartphones. Especially not those priced at upward of $1,000. They never have and possibly never will. The fact that Samsung could afford to improve its after-sales support game so much lately is a testament to how little other Android OEMs did to challenge it in the meantime.

What Samsung needs to one-up Apple is determination

As another illustration of how little long-term software support guarantees matter for commercial performance, look no further than the only group of manufacturers who did manage to give Samsung a run for its money. We are, of course, talking about China here, whose one simple trick for success has been cutting corners wherever possible. I.e., wherever the average consumer wouldn’t think to look. Like security updates, for instance. Nevermind the fact that the true cost of always buying the cheapest possible option usually isn’t apparent before it’s too late.

But, what if we took a step back and tried comparing Samsung to someone who’s been in a comparably dominant position for even longer? Someone whose name starts with an “A” and ends with “pple”, perhaps? Well, in that case, Samsung definitely hasn’t peaked just yet. Or, at least we hope it hasn’t.

For the uninitiated, iPhones and iPads receive approximately six years of security updates. “Approximately” because iOS, as a platform, is maintained a bit differently than Android; its updates are more infrequent but also more consequential, on average. And combined with radically different app distribution philosophies, iOS remains a more secure platform, overall.

Assuming Samsung isn’t interested in taking on Google’s role in policing the Play Store, it stands to reason that prolonging its existing software support policies is the best way to keep its users safe from malicious apps.

Therefore, what Samsung needs right now is determination. Belief that it’s on the right track, and willingness to see things through, taking its software game up a level in the process of doing so. Could some of today’s Galaxy devices end up receiving more than four years’ worth of security updates or four generations of major Android upgrades? We certainly hope so.

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