Smartphone updates have been a mess for as long as the modern smartphone has existed, but Samsung just took a big step in the right direction. The company has decided to extend security update support to a full four years. That’s longer than any other Android device maker, Google included, which previously matched Samsung with three years of guaranteed updates.
To understand how significant this is, you only need to go back in time a few years. Major security flaws like Stage Fright prompted Google to make security updates more prominent. It began listing monthly patch levels in the system settings and requiring that OEMs release the occasional update. Google’s own Pixel phones led the way with two major OS updates and three years of security patches.
Google eventually decided to make Pixels fully upgradeable for three years, ensuring that devices like the Pixel 5 will get Android 12, 13, and 14. Samsung started catching up to Google as the Android maker added features like Treble and Mainline that simplify system updates. Now, Samsung is using some of its immense resources to put updates into overdrive.
According to Samsung’s new policy, most of its phones will get security updates for four years from release. That’s better than what Google or any other OEM promises. The update guarantee isn’t just limited to flagship phones, either. Samsung has a list of more than 100 devices that are covered retroactively including ultra-budget devices like 2019’s Galaxy A10. High-end phones like the Galaxy S20 and Z Fold2 are also included, of course. (Check out Samsung’s blog post for the full list or see below.) These phones will all get monthly or at least quarterly patches for a full four years.
It’s a major undertaking to promise four years of updates on so many phones, but Samsung has the scale to make it happen. Some other OEMs can’t produce updates at a reasonable cadence even when they make just one or two phones each year.
While this is a significant improvement in terms of security and privacy, it doesn’t mean Samsung phones will deliver new features better than Google. The South Korean technology giant is only talking about security updates as opposed to version updates that bump a phone from, say, Android 11 to 12. Samsung will probably still lag behind with these larger feature updates. If being on the latest and greatest OS for as long as possible is still important to you, that’s Google’s domain. If you want security patches that show up long into the future, that’s Samsung’s bag.
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