The Samsung Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 3, and Galaxy Note 2 Android 4.4 KitKat updates are still extremely active. And with Google’s Android L update just over the horizon, Galaxy users are not only thinking about Android 4.4.2 KitKat, Android 4.4.3 KitKat, and Android 4.4.4 KitKat but also of their future. Here, we take a look at what we expect from Galaxy Android updates for these devices, and others, moving forward.
Last September, shortly before Apple took the stage to debut the iPhone 5s and final version of iOS 7, Google announced Android 4.4 KitKat, an incremental but important upgrade to Android that provided upgraded performance, some new features, and some fixes for Android Jelly Bean issues. The announcement was premature, the company did not start pushing out Android 4.4 KitKat until November, but the announcement ensured that the company had Android users attention.
In January of this year, Samsung rolled out its first Android 4.4 KitKat update, an update for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Since then, we’ve seen Samsung push out Android 4.4 KitKat updates for the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, and Galaxy Note 2. We’ve even see new Galaxy S5 Android 4.4 KitKat updates emerge as Samsung works to improve the device ahead of the iPhone 6 release.
Earlier this week, we took a look at the 10 most important Android 4.4 KitKat details that Galaxy users need to know about right now. Today, we want to elaborate a little bit on those and offer up some of our own opinion about the direction of Samsung’s Android 4.4 KitKat roll out and the update that will almost certainly come after it, Android L.
While these are our own expectations, they are based on concrete information, Samsung and carrier history, and a gut instinct. Our goal is to paint a broad picture for not only Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 3, and Galaxy Note 2 owners but owners of other Galaxy devices moving forward. With that in mind, here’s how we expect the rest of the year to play out for top Samsung smartphones and tablets.
Samsung to Remain Silent
First and foremost, owners of Galaxy smartphones and tablets, popular and unpopular, should expect Samsung to remain silent about upcoming Android 4.4.2 KitKat updates, about Android 4.4.3 KitKat and Android 4.4.4 KitKat, and about Android L. The company does not operate on the same level that HTC and Motorola do when it comes to software upgrades. That is to say that it doesn’t announce anything until its ready to.
Upcoming Android 4.4.2 KitKat upgrades will be announced by individual carriers. Some carriers are forthcoming with information, others are more reserved and only release information on the day a roll out starts. Mileage is going to vary from update to update, carrier to carrier. Samsung, on the other hand, probably won’t change.
We usually see rumors leak out details ahead of Samsung’s official announcement so expect rumors to out Android 4.4.3 KitKat, Android 4.4.4 KitKat or Android L updates for Galaxy devices before Samsung’s official announcement. Hopefully, the company becomes more open moving forward but there is simply no guarantee that that will happen.
Android 4.4.2 KitKat Roll Outs to Continue
As far as specific updates are concerned, we expect the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update roll out to continue despite the presence of Android 4.4.3 KitKat and Android 4.4.4 KitKat bug fix updates. In other words, expect the Galaxy Note 2 Android 4.4.2 KitKat update to keep rolling out and expect Samsung to keep deploying Android 4.4.2 KitKat to the Galaxy S4. We expect that it will finish up those upgrades before moving onto something else.
The company still has a long ways to go with some of these roll outs, the Galaxy Note 2 Android 4.4.2 KitKat push in particular, due to the fact that its devices are found in regions all over the world. It takes awhile for these updates to complete and we’re expecting an Android 4.4.2 KitKat update push that lasts deep into the year.
Remember, there are still some people that are just now getting Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Galaxy S3 GT-I9300 users in places like Slovakia just got upgraded to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean this week. It’s a slow moving process and one that we don’t think will get affected by newer Android 4.4 KitKat updates for the upcoming Android L upgrade.
If you’re holding onto a Galaxy smartphone or tablet that’s in the midst of an Android 4.4.2 KitKat push, there’s a good chance that you’ll get Android 4.4.2 KitKat instead of skipping ahead to something else.
T-Mobile Galaxy Note 2 & Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat Updates
Two of the more glaring omissions are the T-Mobile Galaxy Note 2 and T-Mobile Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat updates. While other major carriers including AT&T and Verizon have pushed out both of these updates, T-Mobile’s devices still sit on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.
It’s strange to say the least, given that T-Mobile typically isn’t this far behind the pack. That said, we’re still expecting T-Mobile to deliver both of these updates at some point down the road. Given that all other major variants have received Android 4.4 KitKat, there’s a very slim chance that these will be left behind on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. We almost never see a carrier make that decision alone.
There are still plenty of Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat updates missing in action and it’s entirely possible that Samsung and T-Mobile ran into some difficulties during the testing process. We’d be shocked if the carrier elected not to roll these updates out because of the effect it would have on the user base of both devices.
U.S. Carriers to Remain Silent About Android 4.4 KitKat
Expect T-Mobile to stay quiet about these two upgrades and any other Galaxy Android 4.4 KitKat upgrade plans it has up its sleeve. T-Mobile recently pushed out a Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4.2 KitKat update that came out of nowhere. Expect that from any remaining bug fix updates and Android 4.4 KitKat upgrades.
Same goes for missing upgrades on C Spire (Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3), MetroPCS (Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3), U.S. Cellular (Galaxy S3) and Cricket (Galaxy S3). U.S. carriers other than Sprint never announce updates ahead of time. It’s just the way the world works.
The point here is that you should stop asking your carrier if you live in the U.S. They’re not probably not going to reveal anything ahead of time.
Long Waits for Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat
The Samsung Galaxy S3 has had a long tough road to Android 4.4 KitKat. Before the update even started rolling out, Samsung was forced to confirm that the update would not be rolling out to 1GB versions of the phone which includes the popular GT-i9300 international variant.
While the update has rolled out, it’s still very limited. We’ve seen it land for AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and for carriers in Canada but other than that, the update has been silent. Vodafone Australia is one of the only international carriers that have confirmed the update. Other carriers including SFR, Optus, and Telstra, carriers that confirm updates well in advance, have not confirmed upcoming Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat updates.
That doesn’t mean that the updates are coming but in our mind, it means that there will be long waits at the very least. Again, we point you to fact that the Galaxy S3 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update is still rolling out. The Galaxy S3′s Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update first started rolling out back in November of last year.
If Android 4.4.3 KitKat or Android 4.4.4 KitKat Are Coming, Expect This
We’re still not sure if Android 4.4.3 KitKat or Android 4.4.4 KitKat will be heading to Galaxy devices. We heard rumors that suggested that Samsung was working on Android 4.4.3 KitKat but we haven’t seen anything since those rumors popped up. And they popped up several weeks ago. So we don’t feel comfortable making a prediction here because it’s way too gray. What we will say is this.
If Samsung is planning to roll out new Android 4.4 KitKat upgrades before Android L, we’d expect them to push out after the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in September. New Galaxy devices typically come with the latest software on board and there’s a chance that the Galaxy Note 4 will come with the latest Android 4.4 KitKat upgrade. We think Android L is still off in the distance.
Should this happen, it could prompt Samsung and its carrier partners to roll out Android 4.4.3 KitKat or Android 4.4.4 KitKat updates to some devices. We know that there is a strong demand for them in the Galaxy community due to Android 4.4.2 KitKat bugs but at this point, if we don’t see one or the other arrive with the Galaxy Note 4, we’re probably heading straight to Android L.
We wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung just stuck with Android 4.4.2 KitKat and went straight to Android L with those bug fixes given how long it would take to upgrade all of its devices.
Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4 Android L Updates Next
Android 4.4.3/Android 4.4.4 KitKat update or not, the next Android updates for most Android 4.4 KitKat powered devices will be Android L, the update that Google showed off at Google I/O 2014 and the update that’s expected to arrive later this year alongside new Nexus hardware.
Samsung still hasn’t confirmed Android L for any of its devices though we can point out some likely candidates. Typically, Samsung starts with its newest and most powerful devices. For example, the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4, its two flagships from 2013, were the first mainstream Galaxy devices upgraded to Android 4.4 KitKat.
In the case of Android L, we expect the Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S4 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S to be among the first to the Android L update. We would not be surprised if the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 were the first to move from Android 4.4 KitKat.
Android L Updates for Some in 2015
Unless you’re in possession of a Galaxy Note 4 or Galaxy S5, you should expect the Android L update to hit your device in late 2014 or 2015. With an Android L roll out rumored for the third or fourth quater, we’re expecting a roll out that’s similar to what we saw with the Android 4.4 KitKat deployment.
- Nexus devices get the update first.
- HTC, Sony and Motorola get their flagships updated within 90 days or so.
- Samsung and LG lag behind with Samsung pushing out its first Android L updates several weeks if not several months behind the rest of the pack. And that’s if you have a flagship. Lesser devices like the Galaxy S4 mini for instance could see their Android L updates arrive much deeper than flagships.
Temper those expectations. Samsung works as fast as it possibly can but these roll outs take a lot of time.
Galaxy S3 to Stay on Android 4.4 KitKat
We don’t expect all Galaxy smartphones and tablets to move beyond Android 4.4 KitKat. The Galaxy S3, for instance, will probably remain on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, Android 4.4.3 KitKat or Android 4.4.4 KitKat. We’re expecting this for two reasons.
One, the fact that some Galaxy S3 variants aren’t even getting Android 4.4. Two, Samsung typically doesn’t update devices beyond the two year mark. The Galaxy S3 hit the 24 month mark in May and June. Google recommends 18 months of software support so Samsung’s timeline is actually much better than what Google offers.
If your device falls outside of that 24 month window, there’s a good chance you won’t get what’s next. The Galaxy Note 2 turns two next month and we have a feeling that Samsung might keep it on Android 4.4 KitKat.
Problems & Bug Fixes
Android 4.4.2, Android 4.4.3 KitKat, Android 4.4.4 KitKat or Android L will all have problems. We’ve detailed a number of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and Android 4.4.2 KitKat problems that have emerged across Samsung’s devices. And while Android 4.4.2, Android 4.4.3, Android 4.4.4 and Android L could tackle some of these issues, we almost always see new updates bring problems of their own.
One of the nice things about smartphones is that they get bug fix updates in between major updates. Earlier this month we saw it deploy new Android 4.4.2 KitKat updates to the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5 in the U.S. in an attempt to squash Android 4.4.2 KitKat bug fixes. So if you get bumped to a new version or you get left behind, expect a bug fix update or two to roll out.
Even if the Galaxy S3 stays on Android 4.4 KitKat, we expect carriers to push out bug fixers to quell issues moving forward.