In September, Samsung announced the Galaxy Note 3, a follow up to the popular Galaxy Note 2 and original Galaxy Note. The device arrived on shelves in late September with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean on board, the first Samsung device to do so. Here, we take a look at what we expect from the Galaxy Note 3’s software future, after the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update that is currently on board and after Android 4.4 KitKat.
In the build up to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 launch, we heard quite a bit about the device’s features. One of those features was the supposed Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update that was supposedly going to run stock, right out of the box. This wasn’t too surprising, given that Samsung loves to put the current Android software on board its new flagship smartphones.
Sure enough, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was announced with a bunch of powerful features including Android 4.3 Jelly Bean making it the first Galaxy smartphone with Google’s Android 4.3 update on board.
Shortly before the Galaxy Note 3 was announced, Google had an announcement of its own. In early September, Google announced Android 4.4 KitKat, a brand new Android update that would be rolling out in the future. So while the Galaxy Note 3 was the first to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, it did not, in fact, come with the latest Android update from Google.
Android 4.4 KitKat eventually rolled out to Nexus devices in late November. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 remains on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and likely will remain there for the rest of the year. Unsurprisingly, Galaxy Note 3 uses are wondering about the immediate future in Android 4.4 KitKat and we’ve seen some Galaxy Note 3 users inquire about the distant future, beyond Android 4.4 KitKat.
We’ve already taken a look at what we expect beyond the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.3 update and now, it’s time to take a peek at what we do not expect from the future after Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.
Samsung to Skip Android 4.4 KitKat
First things first. Do not expect Samsung to pull a move similar to the one it pulled with Android 4.2 and Android 4.3 on the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2. For those unfamiliar, Samsung skipped Android 4.2 Jelly Bean in favor of Android 4.3, a move that pushed the updates into November. Android 4.3 represents the first major update the Galaxy Note 2 has received since it launched in the fall of last year.
With competition fierce and its competitors already scheduling and pushing out Android 4.4 KitKat upgrades, it’s hard to imagine Samsung skipping Android 4.4 KitKat and shifting to another update later in the year. We’ve already seen questionable rumors point to an upgrade in the early part of 2014 and while questionable, this makes a whole lot of sense to us.
An early release of Android 4.4 KitKat update for the Galaxy Note 3 will not only make the device more attractive but it will also go a long way with consumers who have had to watch the company stumble through the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update.
Skipping the Android 4.4 KitKat update would likely mean a software release in the middle of the year, and with the iPhone 6 and its big screen rumored for the summer of fall, Samsung will want to make the Galaxy Note 3 as appealing as possible as fast as possible. It won’t skip Android 4.4 KitKat.
Don’t expect any Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat surprises. Samsung software updates are typically straight forward and predictable and thus, we don’t expect to see any shockers emerge in the process. What we mean is that the Galaxy Note 3 is more than likely going to be the second Galaxy device to get Android 4.4 KitKat, behind the Galaxy S4.
If the software rolls out early in the year, it likely will skip Samsung Galaxy S5 features. If it rolls out after the Galaxy S5 launch, don’t expect it to come with the Galaxy S5’s full array of software features. Don’t expect Samsung to add new, Galaxy Note 3-specific features with the Android 4.4 KitKat update either. The company typically draws from its newer devices for new software features.
Increasing Number of Improvements
As the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 gets older, don’t expect it to see an increasing number of enhancements and features. Samsung will upgrade the TouchWiz UI that is on board the device but it’s not going to deliver all of the big time features that come with the Galaxy S5 and ultimately, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 later in the year.
Instead, the Galaxy Note 3 will likely gain a select few features to improve the experience. We’ve seen this happen with the Galaxy Note 2 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update. Instead of a full software feature set, the Galaxy Note 2 got the enhanced Multi-Window View feature from the Galaxy Note 3 but not much else.
As time goes on, the feature list will get smaller and smaller until Samsung ultimately kills off official support for the device. Fortunately, we don’t expect that to happen at any point in the near future.
To Know When Software Support Will End
While companies like Apple and HTC detail the devices that won’t be getting major software upgrades, Apple does this almost right off the bat, Samsung allows its users to live in limbo, wondering if their device will get updated. For instance, Galaxy S2 users continue to write it, asking if we’ve heard about an Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update. Why? Because Samsung hasn’t said anything. For the record, the update appears to be dead in the water.
Galaxy Note 3 users should not expect to know exactly when software support will end for the device. Instead, users will have to rely on the 18 month rule. Google recommends stopping software support at the 18 month mark. It’s why Google killed off the Galaxy Nexus Android 4.4 update. Samsung has shown a willingness to upgrade its flagship devices for around two years so this is what users should expect.
Just don’t expect to hear it from Samsung itself.
Official Support to Stop After Last Major Update
Don’t expect official support to last forever. When Samsung and its carriers kill major update support for the Galaxy Note 3, it won’t mark the end of the Galaxy Note 3. Instead, we should see carriers push out occasional bug fix updates. These maintenance update will be aimed at fixing some of the lingering issues on board and they could roll out months, sometime many months, after the last major update. These will help to prolong the life of the Galaxy Note 3.
A Short Life
Finally, don’t expect the Galaxy Note 3 to lead a short life. Not only will it get Android 4.4 KitKat, but it should get several updates after Android 4.4 arrives. When software support does end, Galaxy Note 3 users will not only get bug fix updates, but there will be an extensive developer network to lean on for support once official support dies.
This is the beauty of Android. Developers can cook up their own ROMs based on official software. This means that the Galaxy Note 3 will get unofficial software support long after Samsung and its carriers stop providing updates.
With this in mind, Galaxy Note 3 owners should take the time to start looking into things like rooting, bootloader unlocking and installing custom software. Users won’t need to depend on it for quite some time but the more prepared one is, the better.