The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was the first Samsung device to arrive with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean right out of the box. That means that its users skipped all of the madness that has surrounded Samsung’s Android 4.3 Jelly Bean roll out to the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2. It also means that users have had their eyes on the future, on Android 4.4 KitKat and beyond.
Before early September arrived, we had heard a lot about the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, a device that was rumored to be coming to replace the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 as the company’s high-end Galaxy Note variant. Amidst all of the Galaxy Note 3 rumors, we heard that the device would be coming with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, an update that Samsung hadn’t announced for any of its other devices, devices that remained on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, a piece of software that rolled out back in July of last year.
Android 4.3 was announced in July and Samsung has been known to put the most current version of Android on its new flagship models. So, it came as no surprise when the Galaxy Note 3 debuted with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean as its operating system, something that made it the first Samsung device to Google’s final Android Jelly Bean update.
So, Galaxy Note 3 owners did not have to sit and wait for Samsung to roll out Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. They also did not have to wait for Samsung to get its act together with these roll outs, some of which have been delayed. Instead, Galaxy Note 3 users interested in new software have only needed to look toward the future, toward Google’s latest update, Android 4.4 KitKat.
Android 4.4 KitKat is rumored to be the next Android update for the Galaxy Note 3. Not surprising. But what about between now and KitKat? What about after Android 4.4 arrives? Here, we take a look at what Samsung Galaxy Note 3 owners should expect from the future, after its stock Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update.
Bug Fix Updates
We haven’t heard about any major issues plaguing the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and its Android 4.3 Jelly Bean software. We’ve seen pockets of complaints but nothing to the extent of the issues that Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 owners are seeing with the software. That doesn’t mean that carriers won’t spring into action.
In fact, we’ve already seen a number of bug fix updates roll out to fix some of the immediate issues found on the Galaxy Note 3. That said, users who haven’t seen any bug fix update roll out just yet should expect one before the arrival of Android 4.4 KitKat. We expect other carriers, perhaps AT&T and Verizon included, to roll out some smaller updates in preparation for the larger one.
We’ve seen carriers like Vodafone Australia promise maintenance updates to its Galaxy Note 3 users and we imagine that other carriers will be following suit to try and iron out issues that have been lingering since launch back in September and October.
It’s very possible that some carriers will use Android 4.4 KitKat as a major bug fixer for the Galaxy Note 3, major updates typically have fixes and enhancements on board, but we expect to see several bug fixers roll out prior to the arrival of Android 4.4 KitKat next year. These updates typically aren’t announced ahead of time so users will need to be on the look out.
Android 4.4 KitKat Update + More
Android 4.4 KitKat is coming to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Samsung hasn’t announced anything but that doesn’t matter. The device is extremely new, well-adopted, and there is simply no way that Samsung will skip out on Android 4.4 KitKat for the Galaxy Note 3 unless it decides to skip it, like it did with the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean updates for the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2.
Rumors point to an arrival early in 2014 and we would not be shocked. HTC has promised the HTC One Android 4.4 update by the end of January in the United States and we imagine that Samsung won’t want its arch rival to get a leg up on its devices. So expect Samsung to deliver Android 4.4 in the beginning part of the year as well.
But how about after Android 4.4 KitKat? Clearly, the next update is far off in the distance, Android 4.4 is only a few weeks old, but we can safely say that the Galaxy Note 3 will get Android 4.4 KitKat and more.
Samsung usually keeps its devices updated for around two years before dropping support. That means that Galaxy Note 3 owners can expect to get Android 4.4 KitKat, in addition to any of the updates that are announced this year. We could see Google again announce one update in the summer and another late in the year with a new Nexus smartphone.
On top of that, we would expect any update announce in the summer of 2015 to be bestowed upon the Galaxy Note 3 as well. It will be approaching the two year mark at that point but Samsung has proven that it’s willing to offer its customers solid support. So, at the very least, expect three major Android updates and if Google uses a similar approach this year, we could see the Galaxy Note 3 get four major Android software updates over the duration of its lifetime.
Next Big Android Update in Summer/Fall
Android 4.4 KitKat is likely going to arrive in the early part of the year. Again, the update is an incremental one, it has reached non-Nexus devices already, and Samsung’s competitors are making a push to deliver early. We expect it to arrive within the first three months of 2014, possibly after the Galaxy S5’s arrival which is rumored for early 2014. How about the next update?
Google hasn’t completely abandoned the Nexus program and Nexus 7 3 rumors are already swirling. So, we could potentially see it release another Android update at mid-year to accompany the new slate. Perhaps an Android 4.5 KitKat update, or something like that. If it does announce something in the summer, and we have little doubt that it will, the Galaxy Note 3 would likely get that update in the summer or fall.
Point is, Galaxy Note 3 users shouldn’t expect their next major Android update, after Android 4.4 KitKat, to arrive until the second half of the year, even if the software is announced at Google I/O in May.
Release Slot Behind Galaxy S5
The Samsung Galaxy Note series always follows the Galaxy S series when it comes to the timing of software updates. The original Galaxy Note got its updates after the Galaxy S2 and Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 2 has received updates after the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4. It’s a chain that Samsung is unlikely to break in 2014 and beyond.
The Galaxy Note series is far less adopted, it sells millions less than the Galaxy S each year, which means that there is less pressure on the company to deliver timely updates. With that in mind, and the Galaxy S5 looking to continue the trend, we highly doubt that Samsung switches gears and makes the Galaxy Note a priority. Instead, look for the Galaxy Note 3 software releases to get slotted after the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4 software releases.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 users seem to have gotten off easy with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be facing issues with Android 4.4 KitKat and beyond. In fact, as we’ve pointed out numerous times, Android users need to understand that software updates are almost never perfect. We can’t remember the last time an iOS, Android or Windows Phone update was flawless, all around.
So, we definitely expect there to be issues with the Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat update. We expect there to be issues with the Galaxy Note 3 Android x.x Lollipop/Licorice/Lxxxxx update. It will be up to Samsung and its carriers to try and iron out the major issues ahead of time and it will be up to Galaxy Note 3 users to ensure that they have a great support network in case something does go wrong.
Issues are inevitable and Galaxy Note 3 owners who aren’t having issues right now, can expect to see some problems during their ownership of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. And those owners who are experiencing issues with Android 4.3 can expect them not to be limited to Android 4.3. It’s as simple as that.
No Need to Upgrade in 2014
While there will be issues, there will also be a lot of good that comes along with these software updates. Not just in the form of features and enhancements from Google, but from Samsung. For those Galaxy Note 3 owners who are unaware, Samsung typically adds to its Android updates, tacking on new TouchWiz features and enhancements. For instance, don’t be surprised if the Galaxy Note 3 borrows some features from the Galaxy S5 at some point down the road.
This is key. Not just because they are new features but because they prolong the need for a new smartphone. By keeping the device updated with new Android features and new TouchWiz features for a period of two years or so, Samsung keeps the Galaxy Note 3 relevant, it keeps it fresh, and most importantly, it keeps its customers satisfied and happy.
With a ton of updates on the way, Samsung Galaxy Note 3 owners won’t feel the need to upgrade their device to the Galaxy S5 or Galaxy Note 4 next year. Samsung, unlike other manufacturers, consistently delivers with software support and it’s one of the reasons why it has been so successful. It’s also one of the many reasons why Apple, Samsung’s biggest competitor in the mobile space, has been successful as well.