Earlier this year, Samsung USA announced that it would deliver a Samsung Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat update to customers in the United States. Today, the company made good on its promise and the Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat release has begun inside the United States. Here, we take a look at what all Galaxy S3 users in the United States need to know about the update that could be their last.
Many weeks ago, Samsung’s arm in the United States confirmed the rumors: It would be rolling out a number of Android 4.4 KitKat updates including updates for two of the company’s aging relics, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S3. The confirmation was extremely important considering both devices are in the twilight of their existence.
At the time, it said that it would be delivering Android 4.4 KitKat features to both the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 but it was tight-lipped about release dates and carriers. This didn’t come as a surprise. Samsung typically leaves release date information to individual carriers to disclose. And in the United States, most carriers tend to remain silent.
That’s why, when Sprint announced Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 Android 4.4 KitKat updates, it came as a bit of a surprise. American carriers tend to withhold information until the last possible second, so as to not set expectations. The Android testing process is tricky and it’s difficult to commit to specific release dates.
Even though Sprint confirmed the two updates, it didn’t release any specific information. No release timing, no details about the features coming on board. So for the past few weeks, customers have been up in the air.
Today though, the Samsung Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat release began in the United States and lo and behold, Sprint is the one behind the first update. Needless to say, Samsung Galaxy S3 owners in the United States, and elsewhere, are excited.
Sprint Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat Update
We expected the Sprint Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat update to land this week and sure enough, the Sprint Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat update is here.
Sprint Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat owners should receive the update Over-the-Air soon though Sprint’s roll outs can typically take a week or so to complete. Those who want it quickly can manually flash it thanks to the folks over on XDA-Developers who have pulled the update file and made it available to for manual installation. So there’s that.
There are a few things that all Galaxy S3 owners should take away from Sprint’s release. First, the release was standard. It came unannounced, it came during the working week, and it brings the features that we’ve been expecting all along. Instead of Galaxy S5 software features, the Galaxy S3 gets Android 4.4 features. Sprint hasn’t released a full change log but we expect there to be bug fixes and enhancements on board the update as well.
In other words, expect the expected across all carriers. We will likely see updates arrive without warning, Over-the-Air and with Android 4.4 KitKat features on board rather than huge upgrades to TouchWiz.
Cherish this update because there is a good chance that it’s going to be the Galaxy S3’s last major update. The device turns two in May and manufacturers typically only keep devices updated for two years before kicking them to the curb.
Other Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat MIA, But Likely
Sprint’s been extremely candid about its upgrades but other carriers remain silent. Those that have played the Android update game know that this is typically how it goes.
At this point, we don’t know when, or if, the Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat update will hit AT&T, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon and others but in our opinion, it’s matter of when not if.
If Sprint’s Galaxy S3 gets the update then we expect other variants to get the update as well. It would be uncharacteristic of American carriers to allow one of their rivals to offer a major upgrade without offering one of their own, especially in a contract year. Millions of Galaxy S3 users will come off contract later on this year and these updates will go a long way in keeping those customers happy.
If that’s not convincing enough, consider this. Samsung broadly confirmed the Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat update for the U.S. If it was going to be a limited roll out, we would have expected the company to use that terminology in its announcement. We expect Sprint’s update to be the start of a broader roll out and we should see other updates land in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
Here is How Galaxy Android Update Releases Usually Play Out in the U.S.
Sprint was first to the Galaxy S4 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update. It was among the first to Android 4.3 updates for the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2. It was the first carrier in the world to offer the Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat update and it was among the first to deliver the Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat update. Why are we telling you this? Simple.
It means that there is a good chance that the Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat update roll out in the United States will mirror Samsung’s previous Android releases. Here is how it could play out.
Typically, the roll out will stretch over several weeks. In other words, we likely won’t see every U.S. carrier deploy their Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat update in the near future. It’s even possible that the roll out could stretch well into June.
Usually, U.S. Cellular follows Sprint’s lead. It was close behind Sprint with the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 roll outs. AT&T and T-Mobile typically fall in the middle of the pack and Verizon usually brings up the rear.
Verizon is currently the only carrier that hasn’t deployed the Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4 KitKat upgrade and it was last amongst major carriers to the Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 update and the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean updates for the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2.
Smaller carriers like C Spire, MetroPCS and Cricket are typically close to last in line. At best, their releases fall in and around the arrival of the last update for major carriers.
It may not play out exactly like this but this is a good guideline for Galaxy S3 owners who might not be familiar with the Android update roll out process in the United States.
Verizon Galaxy S3 Update Isn’t KitKat
We’ve received several tips about a Verizon Galaxy S3 Android update that is rolling out to owners. The update brings the Verizon Galaxy S3 from ML_1 to NC_1. It looks like the update brings support for a Canadian carrier and not much else.
Again, Verizon is usually last in line to these Galaxy Android updates and at this point, there is no reason to believe that it will pull a rabbit out of its hat.
Outside the U.S.
Outside of the United States, the picture isn’t in focus. Samsung Poland confirmed a Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat update for the Galaxy S3 LTE several weeks ago but outside of that confirmation, we haven’t seen much.
At the very least, Galaxy S3 users on international carriers should expect an extremely long wait for Android 4.4 KitKat. We’ve seen some carriers issue Android update schedules through June and the Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat update is nowhere to be found.
Now that the update is live in the U.S., we should start to see official information start to trickle out but at this point, the situation outside of the United States remains unclear.