Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2 Android 4.4 Update: 10 Things U.S. Can Expect

Earlier this month, Samsung announced that a number of Galaxy-branded devices would be getting the upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat in the United States. Among those updates are Android 4.4 upgrades for Samsung Galaxy S3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2, two of Samsung’s former flagship smartphones and devices that remain in the hands of many users around the country.

Weeks ago, rumors pointed to Android 4.4 KitKat upgrades for the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2, two aging former flagships that have been replaced by newer, arguably better smartphones. Those rumors pointed to a release in March or April though they did not suggest specific devices, regions or dates.

A short time ago, Samsung started pushing out Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat upgrades marking the start of the company’s roll out. Shortly after Samsung started pushing those updates out, the company finally confirmed the rumors, rumors that had all along pointed to Android 4.4 updates for the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2.

The confirmation came in the form of a press release that was issued earlier this month by the American arm of Samsung. While we’ve seen Samsung Poland confirm a number of Android 4.4 upgrades, it was Samsung USA that was first.

While Samsung USA confirmed a number of Android 4.4 KitKat upgrades, it did not provide a lot of detail. Release dates remain missing and all we know is that the devices will be getting some of the same Android 4.4 KitKat features as the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy S4.

As we approach the month of March, a rumored release window for these two updates, we want to help set expectations for those Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 owners excited about what’s to come.

Here is what we expect from the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Android 4.4 KitKat updates and their release for carriers in the United States.

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Releases Within Next Two Months

Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 Android 4.4 KitKat update rumors put the releases of these two updates in either March or April. Both rumors are from credible sources so we strongly believe that Samsung plans to start pushing these two updates in either March or April.

Given that the United States saw an official announcement from Samsung, we expect it to be near the front of the pack in terms of timing so we expect that the United States will see these two updates roll out within two months. Doubters only need to look at the speed at which Samsung and its American carrier partners are rolling out Android 4.4 for the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3.

Look for a new design from the Galaxy Note 3.

Android 4.4 is not a big update for these Galaxy devices and that should lead to a quicker turnaround time, provided that everything goes well in testing.

At this point, expect the start of the roll out to arrive by the end of April.

Android 4.4 Release Dates That Arrive Late

Samsung has provided a way for Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 owners to track the progress of the Android 4.4 KitKat update roll out but it’s not going to provide any dates ahead of time.

American carriers almost never announce release dates ahead of time. They simply don’t want to set themselves up to fail in the eyes of consumers. Software release dates are typically moving targets. Testing can go badly, resources get shifted, and carriers simply don’t want to commit to dates that they can’t honor.

Manufacturers like HTC have begun keeping their users in the loop but even then, that has backfired because of testing and the certification process. Samsung tends to just keep its mouth shut.

So, we expect Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 Android 4.4 KitKat release dates to remain a mystery in the United States, right up until the arrival of the dates themselves. At best, we would expect a carrier like AT&T to announce its roll out dates a day early, just like it did today with the Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat update.

One or Two Leaks, At Most

We saw the AT&T Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat updates leak ahead of time but we haven’t seen any other carrier-specific updates emerge ahead of their release dates. This is par for the course.

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Typically, we do not see an avalanche of major Android software leaks. Samsung and its carrier partners have put the clamps down on that. At the most, we expect there to be a couple of Android 4.4 KitKat leaks for U.S. users. At the very worst, we’ll see nothing. We’re leaning towards nothing at this point.

Sprint Among the First to Both Updates

We’re not sure what’s gotten into Sprint these days but we like it. The carrier has been among the first to every single major Samsung Galaxy Android update in recent memory including the updates for the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4. Given that history, we expect Sprint to be out in front again with these two updates.

Verizon Near the Back

We had hoped that the speed at which Verizon pushed out the Galaxy S4 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update was a sign of better things to come. At the moment, it appears that it was simply an anomaly.

Verizon is notorious for lagging behind the competition when it comes to major Android upgrades. And while the Galaxy S4 update came fast, it was dead last amongst major U.S. carriers to the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 Android 4.3 upgrades.

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The carrier still hasn’t rolled out Android 4.4 KitKat for the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 and neither update has a release date in sight. So, it would appear that the carrier has returned to its old ways.

With that in mind, we expect the Verizon Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 Android 4.4 KitKat updates to be among the last updates to arrive.

Standard Roll Out from U.S. Carriers

As for the release of Android 4.4 KitKat itself, expect the standard Android update roll out from U.S. carriers. What this means is that we expect these updates to roll out in phases, similar to what Google does with its Nexus Android updates. By pushing these updates out in phases, Samsung and its carrier partners are able to catch major issues before they spread.

The staggered release of a major Android update typically takes around 10 days or so to complete. While we expect many Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 owners to see their Android 4.4 KitKat updates arrive on day one, expect there to be others that see it roll out in the days after the update’s initial release.

Carrier-Specific Enhancements

Samsung announced that its upcoming Android 4.4 KitKat updates for the United States will come with the following features:

  • Location Menu: An integrated location menu enables users to easily activate GPS, Wi-Fi and mobile networks, while simultaneously checking the battery usage of apps running location service capabilities.
  • Enhanced Messaging: Enables users to choose between Messages or Hangouts as their preferred default messaging application, and select from a larger assortment of updated Emoji icons.
  • Upgraded Google Mobile Service (GMS) apps: Users can automatically back up photos and video and can open, view, rename and share Google Docs and files.

However, users in the United States should expect carriers to put their own spin on these updates. In most cases, that means unique enhancements or fixes but it’s possible that we could see carriers add some new features of their own.

Fixes, But More Problems

Expect these Android 4.4 KitKat updates to bring fixes for the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

As we’ve pointed out, there are plenty of Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 owners dealing with problems left behind by the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update. We can’t imagine carriers turning a blind eye to some of the major issues so we certainly expect Android 4.4 to fix at least some things that Android 4.3 broke.

Expect an improved camera with supporting software.

That said, these two devices are old, the Galaxy S3 is ancient. The older a device gets, the more susceptible it is to major issues, particularly after major Android updates. So, we expect there to be a number of issues that impact both of these devices once Android 4.4 KitKat arrives in the United States.

With that in mind, we highly recommend backing up files prior to installing Android 4.4 KitKat. We also recommend updating applications ahead of Android 4.4 as outdated apps sometimes can cause things to go awry.

No Surprises

We expect these updates to be pretty straightforward for Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 users in the United States. In other words, there probably won’t be any Galaxy S5 features, we probably won’t see carriers attach game-changing features to these updates, and we probably won’t see release dates land any quicker than March or April.

Last Major Update for Galaxy S3

Finally, expect this to be the last major Android update for the Galaxy S3.

Earlier this month, we told you that Samsung Poland confirmed that it would not be rolling out the Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat update due to performance issues. The device only has 1GB of RAM which apparently is not good enough for Android 4.4. So, for some users, it appears that Android 4.3 Jelly Bean was the end of the road.

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For those with a Galaxy S3 with 2GB of RAM, we expect Android 4.4 KitKat to be the end given that Google recommends 18 months of software support for Android devices. Samsung usually goes beyond that and offers software upgrades for two years and we’re seeing that in action with the Galaxy S3, a device that turns two in May.

An upgrade beyond Android 4.4 KitKat would be an immense surprise to us and to a lot of Galaxy S3 owners.

Comments

  1. Richard says

    I have version 4.1.2 on my s3. I keep getting the message that is my latest version when I use Samsung Kies. Any ideas why I have never been updated to 4.3?

  2. Nathan Moffitt says

    I’m 99.99% sure I got this update. This morning. I checked & it said I had an update so I downloaded it. Whatever it is. It’s awesome! Like a whole new phone. I have the Samsung galaxy note 2 for AT&T. LOTS of new changes. Much better.

  3. Nathan Moffitt says

    If I didn’t get the kit kat update? Can somebody please tell me what I did get? Some changes I noticed so far are, I can change songs from lock screen, I can see text messages on lock screen, different sound when I type, email layout is different (better), different background for text messsges, photo gallery is different, camera seems to be the same, voice is different (it did just tell me I can download a voice file when I use GPS, the pull down screen thing is different, fonts seem to be different (cooler), that’s about it so far. I just downloaded it a couple of hours ago so I haven’t had a chance to play with it yet. It took about an hour for the download & updating my apps. All in all, IMO, whatever I got is rally cool.

  4. James says

    Sounds like you have the 4.3 update. I am running 4.3 on my galaxy note 3 and I have the features you described on my phone also.

  5. Jonathan says

    Richard, use Samsung Kies on a pc connected to your phone via USB. I might recommend waiting for 4.4 to save on battery life. 4.3 cut battery life back.

  6. Richard says

    Jonathan…..that is what I have been doing. I have the latest Kies on my pc and still I don’t get the update. I’m stuck in 4.1.2. I wonder if it is because I dropped Att&t and went to Aio.

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