The Samsung Galaxy S4 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update has rolled out to devices in the United States and elsewhere, bringing a number of brand new features to its users. And while many Galaxy S4 owners feel satisfied after receiving their first big Android update, there are others who are looking ahead, beyond Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Here, we offer some expectations about the Galaxy S4’s software future.
Samsung pulled a Samsung back in March when it revealed that the Samsung Galaxy S4 would have Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on board. Samsung is known for putting the most current version of software on its flagship devices, even if the update isn’t widely available yet. In July, Google announced Android 4.3 Jelly Bean which meant that the next logical step for the Galaxy S4 was Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.
That step was taken back in October when Samsung began rolling out the Galaxy S4’s Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update, complete with Samsung KNOX and Galaxy Gear support. The update, which first reached the United States at the end of October, represented the first major Android upgrade for the company’s current Galaxy S flagship and it’s an update that continues to roll out around the globe.
While we saw some initial difficulties in the United States, the Galaxy S4 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean software is now available to those on all five of the nation’s five largest carriers including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless. Getting a brand new Android update is a great feeling, but that feeling doesn’t last forever, not when another Android update already exists.
In October, Google announced Android 4.4 KitKat, a fairly big software update that replaced Android 4.3 Jelly Bean as the company’s most current piece of software and an update that has already rolled out to numerous devices. The Galaxy S4 Android 4.4 KitKat update remains unconfirmed but it’s expected to arrive in 2014, possibly in the beginning of the year.
Now that the dust has settled, users are likely looking toward Android 4.4 KitKat and toward the future. With that in mind, we want to take a look at what we don’t expect from that future, the future after Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.
Galaxy S4 to Skip Android 4.4 KitKat
With all of the issues that Samsung had with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, with the Galaxy S4 update stoppages and the widespread issues, we’re not surprised some people are skeptical about Android 4.4 KitKat and its roll out. Right now, that roll out only exists in rumor, but given how new the Galaxy S4 is, there is a zero percent chance that it’s going to be missing the update. But that’s not what people are worried about.
Given that Samsung skipped Android 4.2 for Android 4.3 on the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2, there are Galaxy S4 users who are probably wondering if Samsung will skip Android 4.4 for something else. If something major pops up in testing, it’s certainly possible but at this point, there are a few reasons why we don’t think Galaxy S4 owners should expect a repeat of 2013.
For one, Samsung cannot afford to make the same blunders that it did with Android 4.3. The software’s roll out was full of headaches and full of bugs if you ask Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 owners. To cancel or delay Android 4.4 KitKat well into 2014 would frustrate its user base even further, something that it can’t afford to do.
HTC, Samsung’s main Android rival, has gotten its act together and has promised Android 4.4 KitKat to HTC One owners in the United States by the end of January. We think Samsung needs to keep pace here. Better yet, Samsung would be wise not to anger its user base any further given the rumors of a large screen iPhone 6 for 2014.
High quality software support is something that is extremely important these days, particularly with devices offering similar specs. It’s a reason why Apple’s iPhone has been fantastic, people can expect efficient, timely software updates. We think Samsung will get back on track in 2014 and it will start with a timely arrival of Android 4.4 KitKat.
Release Slot Behind Galaxy Note 3
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is the latest and greatest smartphone from Samsung. It features some heavy duty specifications, including a speedy Snapdragon 800 processor, and it, like the Galaxy S4, will more than likely be getting the Android 4.4 KitKat update in the new year. And while it’s newer and more powerful than the Galaxy S4, we don’t expect it to get Android 4.4 KitKat, or any major update for that matter, before the Galaxy S4.
Don’t expect things to change with Android 4.4 KitKat, don’t expect it to change when Android 4.4 KitKat is in the rear view mirror. The Galaxy S4 should always get its software before the Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2 and so on. It’s simply higher on the food chain.
More/Less Than Two Years of Support
With the release of Android 4.4 KitKat, we learned that the Galaxy Nexus would not be getting the upgrade. Why? Well, according to Google, because the device is and was older than 18 months old. Google recommends software support for 18 months. It’s a time frame that companies like HTC have followed and it’s one that Samsung has adhered to as well.
In the past, we’ve seen Samsung deliver about two years of support to its flagship Galaxy models before sending them off into the sunset. This is what Galaxy S4 owners should expect from their device. Not one year, not three years like the iPhone, two years. What this means is that users should not expect to see any of the major Android updates of 2015 arrive for the Samsung Galaxy S4.
The point of this discussion is to help set expectations for Galaxy S4 owners and realistically, we don’t see any updates arriving beyond next year. The device was launched in April of 2013 which means that we shouldn’t see anything major roll out beyond its second birthday in April of 2015.
To Know When Its Last Update Will Be
Don’t expect Samsung to say anything though. For months, Samsung Galaxy S2 owners have been waiting in limbo, wondering if an upgrade to Android 4.2 is in store. We’ve reported that chances are slim to none, though Samsung itself hasn’t said a word. This is how it has always been and how we expect it to always be. And it means that Galaxy S4 owners will be marching blindly into the future beyond Android 4.4.
Apple always tells its user base which iPhones will be getting the upgrade to its latest iOS software. It frustrates people but at least they are told upfront. HTC has begun to do the same thing. Don’t expect Samsung to change gears and start telling people when software support will end. Instead, Galaxy S4 users should expect to constantly be in limbo, particularly when 2015 approaches.
Official Support to Extend Beyond Last Update
Rumors will likely do the talking for Samsung when it comes to the last Galaxy S4 update. However, don’t expect the last major update to spell the end for the Galaxy S4 in terms of official software.
Samsung and its carriers do do a good job of keeping devices updated beyond the last update. While they are sporadic and hard to predict, small bug fix updates often go out to owners after a major roll out. These updates are typically small but they are meant to address lingering issues on board. So, when that final Galaxy S4 Android update finally does roll out, don’t expect to get left behind.
Furthermore, don’t expect the Galaxy S4 to get left behind feature-wise either. The Galaxy S4 has a fantastic development community which means that the device will live on long into the future. Yes, software support will probably end in 2015 but that doesn’t mean that developers won’t cook up ROMs based on the software that skipped the Galaxy S4.
This is a device that will live on into 2015 and beyond, at least from a software standpoint.