Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat Arrives in U.S.: What You Need to Know

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat update has finally arrived in the United States, months after Google first announced the KitKat update alongside the Nexus 5. With the roll out underway, at least for one carrier, we want to take a look at what U.S. Galaxy S4 users need to know about Android 4.4 KitKat and its release.

Late last year, Google took the curtain down from around its latest and greatest Android update, Android 4.4 KitKat. The update, which was originally dubbed Key Lime Pie, arrived alongside the Nexus 5 on Halloween. And instead of a major overhaul from Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, Android 4.4 is instead an incremental update aimed at improving performance while adding new functionality and tweaks.


The update quickly rolled out to Google’s Nexus stable of devices including the Nexus 7, Nexus 4 and Nexus 5. Google’s Android partners, including HTC, Motorola and Sony, quickly announced their Android 4.4 KitKat plans, some specific and some vague. Samsung, Google’s biggest Android manufacturer, remained silent. Up until a few weeks ago.

A few weeks ago, Samsung started pushing out the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat update, its first Android 4.4 KitKat update, and one that has stalled. It’s currently limited to a small number of devices and regions.

A few days ago, Samsung pushed out the Samsung Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat update for the first time, with the benefactors two variants found on carriers in South Korea. These updates and the Galaxy Note 3 updates were pushed out without warning.


Today, another Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat emerged, with very little warning, and surprisingly, the update is for some owners in the United States. The U.S. is typically behind the curve when it comes to major Android updates but it appears that at least one carrier is raising the bar.


With the Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat update arriving in the U.S., we want to take a look at the most important things Galaxy S4 owners in the U.S. need to know about the update, the roll out process, and more.

Sprint Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat Update Roll Out

Today marks the first Samsung Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat update roll out in the United States. Unsurprisingly, it’s the Sprint Galaxy S4 that is receiving the update. We say unsurprising because Sprint has been working extremely hard to be among the first U.S. carriers to major Android updates. It was one of the first to the Android 4.3 update for the Galaxy S4.

Sprint quietly announced its intentions on the Galaxy S4’s software update page, tagging the Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat update release with a February 13th roll out date. So, the update is expected to land for the Sprint Galaxy S4 today though Sprint Galaxy S4 owners should know that the update probably won’t make it to everyone.



The carrier notes that the update could push out in stages and we expect it to. Android updates almost always push out in stages. What this means is that while some users will get the update today, others may not see it for a few days. It depends on how the roll out progresses in its first days of action.

If Sprint or Galaxy S4 users discover any major bugs, well, then Sprint and Samsung might halt the roll out. If everything is golden, then the update will push out faster and faster.

Sprint Galaxy S4 owners will want to remain patient. Users can check for the update in the device’s About section inside the settings or simply wait for the update’s prompt to arrive.

Other U.S. Carriers Mum, And Will Remain Silent

The remaining Galaxy S4 carriers, and there are a lot of them in the United States, remain silent about their respective Android 4.4 KitKat update roll outs. This should come as a surprise to no one. AT&T, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon typically do not announce release dates or updates ahead of time. Smaller carriers usually don’t either.

The Galaxy S4 wireless charger slips inside the back, so cases still work.


So what non-Sprint Galaxy S4 users need to know is that one, there likely won’t be any information provided ahead of time and two, it’s not a good idea to keep bombarding carrier social media accounts looking for answers. The social media teams typically don’t have specific information in regard to major Android updates and they usually don’t announce anything until after the roll outs begin.

More Releases Within Weeks

Historically, when one U.S. carrier delivers a major Android update, we see other carriers follow suit pretty soon afterward. In the case of the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean updates for the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2, we saw most carriers release the software updates within a few weeks of each other. The roll outs started in October and were finished by the middle of December, even for smaller U.S. carriers.

The Galaxy Note 3 could feature an improved camera with a 13MP sensor like the Galaxy S4.

Given the size of the Android 4.4 KitKat update, users should know that there is a very good chance that we could see the same thing happen here. One carrier kicks things off and the others follow suit within weeks. Verizon Galaxy S4 users should just, at this point, assume that they will be last to the software.


Incremental Update Confirmed

Sprint’s change log suggests that its Android 4.4 KitKat update, at the very least, will be incremental. This was expected ever since the Galaxy Note 3 update landed without major changes and the AT&T Galaxy S4 update leaked with similar features. Here is what Sprint included inside of its Android 4.4 KitKat update:

  • Android 4.4 (Kit Kat): The Samsung Galaxy S 4 device will be updated to support the Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) software.
  • Prevention Information alert: Customers should no longer receive “Prevention Information – An application has been forced to stop for an unauthorized attempt to access system in your device. It may be safe to delete an application obtained from an unauthorized route. Check now?” alert messages on the device.
  • Zact Mobile: Device now includes the Zact Mobile compatibility.

Galaxy S4 owners should know this. While we should see the same Android 4.4 features land for other devices in the United States, carriers almost always put their own spin on these updates. For instance, Zact Mobile is a Sprint MVNO and that type of compatibility will not be coming to other versions of the device.

Android 4.4 Isn’t the End for the Galaxy S4

Finally, know this. Android 4.4 KitKat is more than likely not going to be the end of the Samsung Galaxy S4 in terms of major Android updates. The Galaxy S4 isn’t even a year old yet, it turns a year old in April, and Google’s recommended software support encompasses 18 months. Samsung typically will go over that with its flagships.

Samsung Galaxy S4 wireless charger review - 2

So, we should see the Samsung Galaxy S4 receive at least one more major Android update this year, assuming Google announces a brand new update in the mid-year as it has the past two years. Galaxy S4 owners should also expect to receive at least some of the new features that arrive on the Galaxy S5 in a few weeks though we doubt that Samsung will announce which features will be headed there, right off the bat.