Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 Update: Early Look at What Not to Expect

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3, which hit the United States back in October, arrived with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean out of the box. And because of this, Galaxy Note 3 users are extremely interested in what comes next for the device in terms of software. The what’s next for users should be a Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat update release, a release that has already been rumored but still hasn’t been confirmed.

Historically, Samsung’s new flagships have come with the latest version of Android on board. Whether that’s the Galaxy S3 and the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update or the Galaxy S4 and Google’s Android 4.2 Jelly Bean software, Samsung’s recent flagships have all carried the current gold standard. This year’s Galaxy Note was no different.

In September, Samsung debuted the Galaxy Note 3, a device that replaced the Galaxy Note 2 and trumpeted a host of big time features including a new 5.7-inch HD display, a new Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, an upgraded 13MP camera, a brand new design that is both slimmer and lighter than the Galaxy Note 2, and, yes, Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.

At the time, Android 4.3 Jelly Bean was Google’s latest and greatest and it was also unavailable on other Galaxy-branded devices. The Galaxy Note 3 was the first to Android 4.3 and it remains on Android 4.3, even as Google rolls out its new Android update, Android 4.4 KitKat.

Now that many Galaxy Note 3 owners have grown comfortable with their new smartphone, they are looking towards the future, a future with an Android 4.4 KitKat update. Samsung still hasn’t announced anything just yet but given the device’s age, and given that it hasn’t received a major update yet, Android 4.4 KitKat is likely on the docket.

Ahead of it’s arrival, we’ve started taking an early look at what to expect from the software. Here now, we take a close look at what users should not expect from the rumored, but likely, Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat update and its release date.

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Early & Specific Release Information

First off, Samsung Galaxy Note 3 users should not expect early, specific information to arrive ahead of the Android 4.4 KitKat update’s eventual release. Samsung itself never confirms updates unless the roll out is close. So, we don’t expect Samsung to confirm the Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat update until its extremely close to rolling it out. Maybe a few weeks out at the very most. Those who need evidence need only look at the Android 4.3 update for the Galaxy S3, and Galaxy Note 2. Samsung skipped the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean updates for these devices but said nothing until late in the year.

Galaxy Note 3 Hidden Features

What this means is that users will have to rely on leaked information. But even then, leaked information is never specific about an exact day, probably because Samsung itself is rarely sure about exact days. One leak that we’ve seen suggests that the software will arrive in January but no specific date was given. Look for this trend to continue.

Official Release Dates

Similarly, Samsung doesn’t issue specific release dates for its devices, even after making an announcement. Carriers follow its lead and keep their users in the dark about official release dates. In fact, it’s very rare that we see a manufacturer or a carrier dish out an official release date for any major Android software roll out. Again, they likely don’t want to set expectations for a date that has a very good chance of changing due to testing.

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Galaxy Note 3 owners shouldn’t expect to see any official release dates from Samsung or any carriers in the United States. If we do see any dates, they will likely come from leaks that emerge close to the actual release dates. Carriers like Telstra, an Australian-based carrier, offer up timelines for customers but as we’ve learned, they are unreliable.

Roll Out Deep in 2014

How about timing? Well, we certainly expect the Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat update roll out to take place in 2014. Samsung’s attention is likely on the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean roll out and December seems unlikely given that many devices are still without their updates. We expect the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean upgrade process to complete by the end of December and at that point, Samsung will be in KitKat mode.

Galaxy Note 3 owners shouldn’t expect the Android 4.4 KitKat roll out to arrive deep in 2014 though. Instead, it will likely roll out within the first couple months of the year, assuming there aren’t any delays. The reasoning is simple. Android 4.4 KitKat is already rolling out to non-Nexus devices. The HTC One is slated to get the update in January, the HTC One being a Galaxy Note 3 competitor and a device that is much older with lesser specs. That puts some pressure on Samsung to deliver as well.

All that said, we can’t say whether the January release window will work out but we don’t expect a Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat upgrade to roll out past the mid-year and we’d be shocked if it rolled out past the first quarter.

Huge Gaps with U.S. Release Dates

The Samsung Galaxy Note, for whatever reason, has proven to be a difficult device to update. Whether it’s the big screen, the complicated S Pen-enhanced software, or something else, we typically see long waits for major updates in the United States. That said, once the update process begins, we typically see U.S. carriers release their updates within a few weeks of each other.

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With that in mind, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat roll out, as a whole, takes about a month to complete. We’ve seen similar with the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean roll outs in the U.S. and we don’t expect anything different from the upcoming Android 4.4 KitKat roll out.

Zero Android 4.4 KitKat Update Leaks

We don’t expect a lack of Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat leaks ahead of the official arrival. In fact, we would be shocked if the Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat update didn’t manage to leak out once or twice ahead of the official release. Usually, we see Samsung software updates emerge from hiding in the weeks before Samsung actually releases the software. Those updates tend to be test firmware, meaning official but software that isn’t necessarily final.

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Don’t expect the Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat update to leak for the United States though. Samsung and U.S. carriers have kept their updates sealed up tight lately and we don’t expect to see that change in 2014 with Android 4.4. Instead, if a leak does occur, it should be for an international variant and it should only appeal to those with the ability to install unofficial, but official, software ahead of time.

Android 4.4 KitKat Features Alone

As for the software itself, don’t expect the Android 4.4 KitKat update and its features to arrive alone. Samsung does a very good job of including big time enhancements and fixes to its TouchWiz user interface and so the Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat update should bring a whole lot more along with it when it arrives.

Galaxy Note 3 vs iPad mini 2-5

The Galaxy Note 3 runs a current version of TouchWiz, so it’s not clear what the update would bring, but it’s possible that we could see tweaks and enhancements to the features already on board in addition to some software features from the Galaxy S5, if the device really does launch in the early part of 2014 as rumors currently suggest.

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Users shouldn’t expect to be in the dark about what’s going to be on board. Thanks to leaks and rumors, we should get a pretty good idea about what to expect, feature-wise, well in advance. Just don’t expect to know when the update and its big features will arrive.

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