The best and worst Android makers for software updates, or why Samsung isn't that bad

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
The best and worst Android makers for software updates, or why Samsung isn't that bad
The Verizon, AT&T and Sprint versions of the Galaxy S9 and Note 9 have started receiving their Android 9 Pie update last month, exactly as Samsung promised. The US carrier models are even getting a slice of Pie before the unlocked version from Samsung's website in the US which is pretty cool (or sad, if you own one).


Granted, Google released Android Pie back in August, and it has been 5 months before US carrier models got it but this is actually par for the course when it comes to software updates of the big Android brands on Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile. We made a little table to show you how many months passed between the last two major Android releases, and the updates making it to US carrier phones.

The best and worst Android makers for software updates, or why Samsung isn't that bad


While those delays between the initial Android version release to Google's own phones and the rest of the manufacturing crowd are annoying, Samsung actually did a decent job here. It pushed a radically new One UI overlay and the latest version of Android rolled in one in a similar timeframe as before. That is no small feat considering what a poor Android maker has to do to get its software updates approved on US carriers. 

You'll eat Pie, sooner or later

You'll eat Pie, sooner or later

Here's how it works: 

1.Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile, etc., get an Android build from Samsung when Google releases it to them and they are ready with any overlay changes of their own (say, slapping the new One UI and testing how it works under the new operating system version);

2. US carriers test Samsung's Android Pie build with One UI for fair play with their own apps (say, T-Mobile's dialer), for network, carrier aggregation, radio, etc., compatibility, and then file their reports with Samsung;

3. The manufacturer and carriers then work to iron out any bugs or issues with carrier-specific software or network connectivity. When the app and settings' kinks are straightened up, they are sent to Samsung in a ready state to be included in the final firmware tailored to the specific carrier, and be pushed over the air to the Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint subscribers' phones when that procedure is ready.

The average number of major software updates a Samsung phone gets is actually the highest among the top three Android makers

The average number of major software updates a Samsung phone gets is actually the highest among the top three Android makers

As you can see, there are a few extra steps involved compared to pushing stock Android to unlocked phones like Google does with the Pixels and some manufactures that went the stock route like Nokia, for instance. Fans love to rant how bad Samsung is with software updates, but it actually sits in the golden middle. In fact, Samsung is the only one of the top three Android makers that is listed in the AOSMark ranking of the best and worst manufacturers when it comes to major software updates.

Bear in mind that the scores below represent an average, i.e. flagships like the Galaxy S9 just got a serving of Pie, and will most likely get a taste of Q, or whatever Google names Android 10, clocking in at least two major updates. 

The Galaxy A9 2018, on the other hand, which is scheduled to get Pie in April, may stay there for its life span, while phones like the Galaxy J7 Crown, for instance, may never get anything higher than what they shipped with, hence Samsung's 1.3 updates average. Let's not forget also the number of handsets Samsung has had to upgrade since it started making Androids, more than a thousand, while manufacturers like the runner-ups OnePlus or Nokia, only have 10-30 to take care of. 

Long story short, if you are happy with your Samsung flagship, software updates probably won't be a deciding factor whether you'll grab its successor(s), too, especially considering that it's now Google that is playing feature catch up with Android makers' overlays, not the other way around.

FEATURED VIDEO

81 Comments

1. Elvis358

Posts: 194; Member since: Mar 25, 2018

Yeah Samsung is bad! The best are Pixel and Apple products. The bittersweet truth!

12. Panzer

Posts: 269; Member since: May 13, 2016

Pushing updates to fix what the last update broke only to break more stuff. Considering how bare bones those OS's they should not have as many issues as they do.

14. cmdacos

Posts: 3659; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Exactly this

22. Valdomero

Posts: 556; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

That's why I haven't updated my iPhone to the latest build, I'm stuck on iOS 12 until no antenna bugs or whatever crashes the phone. So, to Elvis358 It's true that Apple supports its older devices, but they also break current devices. So more updates ≠ better

28. sleepypandaeyes

Posts: 324; Member since: Apr 12, 2015

I still haven't updated my. Imac to mojave, stuck on a boot loop and had to use time Machine. To scared to update it again

42. Leo_MC

Posts: 5912; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Oh, how sour are the grapes for some Android users...

64. tedkord

Posts: 16978; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Yeah, they sure are upset that they've got the most powerful, flexible and functional mobile OS in the world.

67. Leo_MC

Posts: 5912; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Than why are they always on Apple related articles or feel the need to bring Apple and talk s**t about it, if their precious os is so good?

70. tedkord

Posts: 16978; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

For the same reason Apple fans are always on Android and Samsung articles talking smack - people crave a good argument.

73. Leo_MC

Posts: 5912; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

That hardly happens.

72. slim3bdo

Posts: 115; Member since: Jun 05, 2017

Just like what are u doing in this article , talk about Hippocrates . ROFL

74. Leo_MC

Posts: 5912; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I am both iOS and Android user ;).

17. sissy246

Posts: 6837; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Yeah, the best at having to release update after update to fix the last update. Thank you Samsung for getting it right before pushing it out.

23. dimas

Posts: 3215; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

@Elvis358 so that's why pixel users keep having different problems with every update. Stock android got a bad name last year courtesy of google itself.

65. tedkord

Posts: 16978; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Sounds like Trump truth.

78. htainlintha

Posts: 73; Member since: Mar 20, 2010

The real bitter-truth is that Pixel nowhere near Samsung's sales/capabilities with the fugly smartphone design with very little features! Better luck next time cos Samsung update time has improved a lot lately and their updates got little to no bugs! and Apple? please....their updates are to make your phone broken to force you to buy new so nothing to be excited about at all!

2. apmsequeira

Posts: 3; Member since: Sep 27, 2018

When you sell flagship phones at a flagship prices, software updates must be a priority... Samsung doesn't care about this and is becoming less and less dominant in the Android world... I stopped using Samsung, mainly, because of this... Expect Android 9 to be in Samsung flagship's in January 2019, or later, can't be considered "not bad"... It's awful...

3. darkkjedii

Posts: 30506; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Bad part: Samsung is painfully slow with updates. Good part: They add nice features, and never break things, requiring a fix it update. Finished installing pie this morning, and man was it worth the wait. Totally new phone for the most part...absolutely loving it.

18. dimas

Posts: 3215; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

How's the gcam app on your note 9 dark? One UI is good, I say it is as smooth as xperias. To be fair with samsung, they always have security updates. I don't mind the "slow" software updates as long as they deliver it properly.

31. darkkjedii

Posts: 30506; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Honestly, I decided wait for the pie update before installing it. I wanted everything to be in sync. I'll definitely let you know though, thanx.

36. dimas

Posts: 3215; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Smooth. Enjoy your note 9 one ui and stay safe from that cold, peachboy err polar vortex.

38. darkkjedii

Posts: 30506; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

LMAOOOO! Right on bro.

19. yalokiy

Posts: 841; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

Totally agree. Better late, but stable updates, than fast and buggy, yet featureless.

32. darkkjedii

Posts: 30506; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

yes sirrr

43. Leo_MC

Posts: 5912; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

How about fast and good?

45. yalokiy

Posts: 841; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

Haste makes waste. Good things take time.

51. Leo_MC

Posts: 5912; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I heard different when some bitched about some phones missing what they said are essential features.

66. tedkord

Posts: 16978; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

That would be great. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist. Anywhere.

68. Leo_MC

Posts: 5912; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

It doesn’t exist unless you’re using iOS ;).

71. tedkord

Posts: 16978; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

It doesn't exist period. Samsung takes a while, but puts out a bulletproof release. Apple spends the entire year putting out bug fixes that cause more bugs. Especially as they've made IOS more complex to compete with Android.

Latest Stories