Samsung is upping the ante on Android updates, offering four years of security updates on many of its Android devices. The company’s entire update package now consists of three years of major OS updates and four years of security updates, surpassing even what Google offers on the Pixel line.
In the announcement, Samsung said: “Over the past decade, Samsung has made significant strides in streamlining and accelerating regular security updates. Samsung has worked closely with its OS and chipset partners, as well as more than 200 carriers around the world, to ensure to ensure that billions of Galaxy devices receive timely security patches.” Samsung has been experimenting with bringing updates to its own Exynos SoC devices for four years, but now it looks like the company is also getting Qualcomm models on board.
Please note that these are not necessary monthly security updates. Samsung says it will provide “monthly or quarterly” updates for four years, depending on the age of the device. Samsung’s current security bulletin page has the Galaxy S9 (2018) on the monthly update plan, while the Galaxy S8 is on the quarterly plan. So it sounds like three years of monthly security updates and another year of quarterly updates.
For which phones get four years of security updates, the answer is “a lot”. It’s not just flagships; many mid-range devices and tablets dating back to 2019 are included, making for “more than 130 models”. Here’s the full list.
- Galaxy Foldable Devices: Fold, Fold 5G, Z Fold2, Z Fold2 5G, Z Flip, Z Flip 5G
- Galaxy S Series: S10, S10+, S10e, S10 5G, S10 Lite, S20, S20 5G, S20+, S20+ 5G, S20 Ultra, S20 Ultra 5G, S20 FE, S20 FE 5G, S21 5G, S21+ 5G, S21 Ultra 5G
- Galaxy Note Series: Note10, Note10 5G, Note10+, Note10+ 5G, Note10 Lite, Note20, Note20 5G, Note20 Ultra, Note20 Ultra 5G
- Galaxy A Series: A10, A10e, A10s, A20, A20s, A30, A30s, A40, A50, A50s, A60, A70, A70s, A80, A90 5G, A11, A21, A21s, A31, A41, A51, A51 5G , A71, A71 5G, A02s, A12, A32 5G, A42 5G
- Galaxy M Series: M10s, M20, M30, M30s, M40, M11, M12, M21, M31, M31s, M51
- Galaxy XCover Series: XCover4s, XCover FieldPro, XCover Pro
- Galaxy Tab Series: Tab Active Pro, Tab Active3, Tab A 8 (2019), Tab A with S Pen, Tab A 8.4 (2020), Tab A7, Tab S5e, Tab S6, Tab S6 5G, Tab S6 Lite, Tab S7 , Tab S7+
Samsung offers longer Android security updates than anyone else, but the company is still one of the slower major OEMs when it comes to delivering Android OS updates. It took the company three months to start the rollout of Android 11, while Google, OnePlus, Oppo and Xiaomi were all faster. Samsung is still not participating in Google’s Android beta program, which – surprisingly – is used by all faster companies. Samsung also refuses to follow Android best practices and adds seamless update support, allowing users to apply all of these updates without significant phone downtime.
Samsung’s new update plan is the best of all Android phones, but still pales in comparison to Samsung’s favorite competitor, Apple. iOS still offers the best update plan in the industry, with iOS 14 support going all the way back to the iPhone 6S, a phone released in 2015.
Google is now in the embarrassing position of not offering the best update plan for its own OS, but it’s hard to imagine the company not ramping up the Pixel line soon to match Samsung. After all, Google is where most of these patches come from, as it is the company that develops Android. The Android source code is still getting monthly security updates for the latest four versions of Android, going back to Android 8.1. If Google wanted, it could do major updates for three years and then four years after that Lake years of security updates after that. The code is there.
There’s still a lot of work to do, but kudos to Samsung for pushing the Android update envelope. Android’s update situation is slowly getting better, step by step.