One thing Android smartphone manufacturers have often been guilty of is the very few operating system updates and software patches that their older models get once sold. Some even use the newer versions of Android OS as a marketing tool for their unreleased models, whereby the older models are intentionally locked from receiving the newer versions to encourage users to shell out money for a new device if they want to experience the new features.
To bring out the difference between support in the Android ecosystem and iOS, the iPhone 6s from Apple, which was released back in 2015, runs the latest version of iOS, iOS 15, making it have 7 years of OS updates and software support. This is unheard of in the Android space. In fact, the Android device with the longest-running official software support from its maker is not even a smartphone. It is the original Shield TV, and Android streaming box, from Nvidia.
Samsung, however, is looking to change this by committing to offer up to four generations of One UI and Android OS upgrades on select Galaxy devices. These select devices are their Galaxy S series starting from Galaxy S21, the Z series, the A series as well as tablets. Furthermore, the South Korean company is still looking to scale this effort across its various product ranges within the Galaxy ecosystem.
“As part of our commitment to giving users the best possible mobile performance and experience, the entire Galaxy S22 series will be supported by up to four generations of Android OS upgrades. Now millions of Galaxy users can take advantage of the latest security, productivity, and other exciting new features, for longer. Samsung will scale this effort across our product line-up to ensure you’re fully supported across your Galaxy ecosystem,” reads the announcement on Samsung’s blog.
Samsung started on this path last year when the company made a pledge to offer 4 years of software support for its phones and tablets that included 3 major OS updates and 4 years of security patches. This commitment cut across their major product lines, from the entry and middle-level lineups of the A and M series to the high-end S and Z series.
Now, with the extra OS upgrade available to select devices within their line-up, it seems like Samsung is looking to differentiate its flagship offerings from the rest of its smartphone brands by offering better and extended support.
The duration for which released phones get OS upgrades and software patches to improve security has for a long time been a topic for discussion. Late last year, we reported that the German government in partnership with the European Union is discussing the introduction of a policy that will ensure new phones receive 7 years of software support to give them a more computer-like support cycle.
The longer a phone receives updates, the longer they are held on to by their owners, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it reduces the number of devices that find themselves in the electronic scrapyard for being obsolete while on the other hand, manufacturers will be pushing fewer units since people are not incentivized to get new devices since their old ones are still getting the latest support.