In the midst of the Stagefright scare on Android, Samsung surprisingly made a promise, or at least a promise to a commitment, to follow in Google’s footsteps and try to find ways to get critical security updates out on a monthly basis. Surprising because Samsung is one of the most notorious among the major OEMs for snail-paced updates. Trying to prove that it means business, the Korean manufacturer has put up a website that details those monthly security updates and which lucky devices will be benefiting from it.
The problem with Android updates, whether for new features or critical security patches, is that they go through the hands of multiple entities, depending on where the device is coming from. While Google can quickly put out security bulletins and updates for the Android software itself as well as Google’s own Nexus devices, such updates have to go through rounds of testing and certification from manufacturer’s and sometimes on carriers as well. Depending on how much customization and bloatware those put on devices, the delay can go from weeks to sometimes even months.
Samsung is also notorious for having one of the most heavily customized Android experiences, though the same could be said for the likes of Xiaomi and Huawei. That adds to the doubt whether Samsung can pull off its rather ambitious commitment. It does seem almost unlikely given the factors above. HTC even called such commitment as unrealistic and refuses to make a promise it can’t keep.
Samsung’s way around this is to limit what devices will be getting these monthly updates. At the moment it only lists the following:
• Galaxy S5
• Galaxy S6
• Galaxy S6 edge
• Galaxy S6 edge+
• Galaxy Note 4
• Galaxy Note Edge
• Galaxy Note 5
• Galaxy Tab S
• Galaxy Tab S2
It’s not that surprising to see these listed as they are basically Samsung’s 2014 and 2015 flagship devices. It’s still disappointing, however, that even recent mid-range smartphones and tablets like the A series won’t be getting the same treatment.
That said, Samsung does not that the updates still depend on the market and carrier, meaning that list could even be shorter depending on where you are. Samsung is, in effect, now passing the buck to carriers and retailers.