At the tail end of last year, the Samsung Galaxy S4 received its first major Android update from Samsung and Google in the form of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Because Google recommends 18 months of software support and because Samsung devices typically get two years of software support, Galaxy S4 owners quickly turned their attention toward the future, toward the Android 4.4 KitKat update that first arrived back in November.
Android 4.4 KitKat was first announced in September though it didn’t arrive for users until November. And while some companies confirmed Android 4.4 KitKat roll out details, Samsung chose to remain silent about the prospects until 2014.
In February, Samsung pushed out of its key Android 4.4 updates, the Galaxy S4 KitKat update, an update that represents the second major Android update for Samsung’s former flagship Galaxy S model. And while the update doesn’t deliver huge changes to the Galaxy S4, it does come with some likeable features that some Galaxy S4 owners are currently enjoying and many others are looking forward to.
Indeed, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat update is still rolling out, nearly four months after the start of the release. While many users are currently on Android 4.4 KitKat, there are plenty of others that are stuck on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.
For months, we’ve seen Galaxy S4 details emerge. We’ve outlined many of them in our recent Samsung Galaxy Android 4.4 KitKat release breakdown. However, we want to take a little bit of a deeper dive into the Galaxy S4’s Android 4.4 KitKat update situation and take a look at the most important Galaxy S4 owners need to know about one of their most Android updates.
U.S. Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 Release Remains Unfinished
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat update landed for Sprint back in mid-February and for U.S. Cellular shortly thereafter. At the time, it looked like the Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 roll out process would be efficient, at least in the United States, but it unfortunately did not turn out that way for U.S. Galaxy S4 owners.
There are still several Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat updates that have yet to hit the United States. MetroPCS and C Spire, two of the United States’ smaller carriers, still haven’t deployed their versions of the software. The C Spire Galaxy S4 is listed with KitKat on Samsung’s product page but that listing popped up several weeks ago and the update remains unavailable.
Maybe the most glaring absence is the Galaxy S4 Active Android 4.4 KitKat update. In April, AT&T announced that it had begun deploying the update. A short time later, the carrier was forced to temporarily suspend the update so that it, and Samsung, could work to improve the software. Since then, AT&T and Samsung have remained silent and the update remains in the lab without an official release date.
U.S. carriers don’t issue early release information so at this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to when these updates might roll out. We do have one theory though and we’ll get to it in a bit.
May-June Release Dates
U.S. users aren’t the only ones still missing Android 4.4 KitKat upgrades. There are plenty of other carriers that have yet to deploy Android 4.4 KitKat upgrades. Optus, Telstra and Vodafone, all in Australia, have yet to push out a single Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat update. Optus and Vodafone both confirmed several weeks ago though none of the updates have moved.
In fact, Vodafone Australia today released an updated schedule for its Android updates and the Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat update hasn’t budged. The carrier still hasn’t received the update from Samsung which means that the upgrade is likely weeks, if not months out. Both Optus and Vodafone, which profess May or June release dates, are in much better shape than Telstra.
Telstra is in the same league as C Spire and MetroPCS. The carrier still hasn’t confirmed a Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat update and given the problems it had with Android 4.3, it could be that it’s far behind the rest of the pack.
So, it looks like we could see Android 4.4 KitKat updates pushing out as we head into the summer which is ridiculous when you consider the fact that the update was first announced back in September.
Android 4.4.3 Rumors
Earlier today, the rumored Android 4.4.3 KitKat update appeared on Samsung’s developer site. The sighting comes just a few days after rumors suggested that the company was testing the update for the Galaxy S5 and that it could be touching down for the Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Note 2, and the Galaxy S3.
Rumors have also suggested that the update could deploy in place of Android 4.4.2 KitKat for select devices. These devices were not mentioned by name though the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 are certainly candidates considering their Android 4.4 KitKat roll outs have slowed down over the past two weeks.
It’s also entirely possible that this is the holdup for at least some of these carriers. Perhaps AT&T and Samsung shifted to Android 4.4.3 for the S4 Active because it’s stable. Maybe MetroPCS decided to move to Android 4.4.3 as well. This is purely speculation but it could explain why these updates are still missing months after the arrival of Android 4.4.2.
Android 4.4.3 is expected to tackle Android 4.4.2 problems but it’s not clear how it might impact Samsung’s devices. We imagine that it will host bug fixes but there is a chance that it could boast some other features as well.
Samsung Galaxy S5 Features
The GT-i9500 LTE version of the Galaxy S4 in Germany just got a new Android 4.4 KitKat build that delivers Galaxy S5 features. The update reportedly brings the new Kids Mode and Samsung KNOX 2.0 security to owners of the international variant. This is a bit of a surprise given that Samsung never confirmed Galaxy S5 features for the Galaxy S4 or any other Galaxy smartphone.
For the moment, the software is limited to users in Germany. Samsung rarely discusses updates ahead of time so it’s not clear if these features will land for Galaxy S4 owners. However, it would be strange to see one variant in one region get Galaxy S5 upgrades while others stay behind so we’re guessing that we could see these features land for other models down the road.
Android 4.4.3 KitKat is a possible scenario but we should point out that these features were delivered with an Android 4.4.2 KitKat update and not Google’s rumored build.
Finally, the last important bit that we think Galaxy S4 owners need to know about Android 4.4 KitKat is that Android 4.4 KitKat is probably not going to be the end of the line for Samsung’s former flagship. While it might be moving out slow, there is a very good chance that the Galaxy S4 will soak up any Android update that arrives later on this year.
Google recommends 18 months of software support for Android devices. The Galaxy S4 just passed the 12 month mark which means that it has a solid six months left by Google’s standards. Samsung typically updates its devices for two years, the Galaxy S3 Android 4.4 KitKat is all of the proof users need, and that means that there is a very good chance that the Galaxy S4 will get at least one more major Android update. Rumors point to an Android 4.5 release this summer though that remains unconfirmed.
We continually get questions about the Galaxy S4’s update future and the most important thing we can tell owners is that the Galaxy S4 has a bright future ahead of it, especially now that we know that it’s getting Galaxy S5 features.