Fragmentation is word too often associated with the Android ecosystem and arguably one of the biggest issues plaguing Google and its hardware partners. Delays not only in operating system updates, but also with crucial security patches can quickly make what felt like a shiny new flagship device feel outdated and left behind. Now there is some good news at least for owners of unlocked Samsung Galaxy phones as the South Korean company will now commit to monthly updates on those devices.
Join us after the break for more.
There are many issues involved with this as updates are not only reliant on Google and the manufacturer, but carries like Verizon and AT&T have their own schedules and parameters for when a new software version is ready to be rolled out. One of the advantages to owning an unlocked phone is that you can essentially bypass carrier involvement and get updates directly from the manufacturer. Sadly this is not always the case.
For example, the unlocked versions of Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge have yet to see an update since last December and still haven’t received Android 7.0 Nougat. When carrier versions of phones are seeing updates faster than unlocked versions, you know something just isn’t quite right. But there is hope as the folks over at ZDNet reached out to the Samsung Mobile Security team about this issue and received an encouraging response.
In the email from Samsung, they state that “various circumstances” caused updates for unlocked Galaxy phones in the U.S. to arrive on a quarterly basis, but those issues have now been resolved allowing for monthly updates to occur going forward. It’s unclear what those circumstances were as the only thing standing in Samsung’s way when dealing with their own unlocked devices is Samsung itself. Perhaps the reason doesn’t matter as long as this commitment can be maintained.
The March security update will rollout to unlocked Galaxy phones soon, according to the email, and will include all prior security patches since the last update. What the email doesn’t mention is how any of this relates to the Android 7.0 Nougat update. It’s possible that unlocked Galaxy phones, such as the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge could see Nougat with the March update, but as this email exchange was specifically with the Samsung Mobile Security division, they may only be able to speak on security patches rather than updates as a whole.
It would be great to see Samsung take a more aggressive approach to regular software updates, especially as their upcoming Galaxy S8 phones will be made official on March 29 and we already have seen FCC filings for unlocked versions of those devices. Time will tell what happens, but at least for now we can be cautiously optimistic. We will keep an eye out for any updates regarding this.