back to article Does Samsung want you to buy new phones? Asking 'cos Galaxies now get four years of security updates

Samsung has announced that all its Galaxy devices will now receive security updates for four years after initial release. The new policy applies as of now, but also to Galaxy devices launched since 2019. That means even 2019 releases like the Galaxy S10 will now get four years of updates. "Mobile devices play such an …

  1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist Bronze badge

    Does Samsung want you to buy new phones?

    Seems like it to me - the likelihood of me buying a sumsung as my next phone just jumped up by about 1000x.

    (so it now sits at about 5%).

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      While it's mainly PR, it will be effective in the corporate market where Samsung tends to compete head-to-head with Apple.

    2. Dave K Silver badge

      The question from me is if the performance of the phone will last. Every Samsung phone I've experienced has run fine for 18-24 months, then the performance has fallen off a cliff. I've experienced this across 5 different Samsung phones over the past number of years (my previous phone, wife's phones and my work phones). Yet in comparison, my current LG phone still feels slick and speedy after 5 years of hammer.

      Extending the support is a good move, but I remain apprehensive of buying another Samsung phone after seeing so many turn into sluggish, stuttery lumps after a while - even applying a factory reset didn't help for long with them.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "after seeing so many turn into sluggish, stuttery lumps after a while"#

        (This applies to all androids but Samsung in particular:

        Install "SD Maid" and run a cleaning cycle. You should find that the difference before/after database cleanup is like someone scalded that cat

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Same. I had effectively decided on "Not a Samsung" for my S9+ replacement

      Now they might get considered again

  2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Mandatory 5 year minimum.

    It should be law requiring that all device makers support their devices for at least five years with OS upgrades, security updates, & then security patches on "old kit" for another year or two. Because landfills are too damned full of "useless" kit that's only fault is that the software is no longer supported even though the devices themselves are still being sold as new. Case in point: NewEgg.com will happily sell you an Android phone running *Version 2* of the OS. How many such devices are still supported? Oh that's right. NONE. But if they can still sell them as "new" then the maker should be required to SUPPORT them as new as well.

    Either that or the sellers should be required to put a giant disclaimer on the product listing page to the effect of "This piece of crap is so old that nobody supports it, it won't get upgrades, you won't be able to run any app newer than $Date, & you'll be flushing your money down the toilet if you buy this piece of shit."

    If car makers supported their cars like phone makers did with their phones, the roads would be littered with rusting husks that "died" for the lack of a fekkin' lack of ability to fit them with new tires.

    Still sellin' 'em? Then fekkin' support 'em too.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Mandatory 5 year minimum.

      Don't worry, if the phone industry made cars, they would have made cars with non replaceable tires without disassembling the whole car. And fuel tanks that shrink with time.

      1. vilemeister

        Re: Mandatory 5 year minimum.

        We don't have to guess, it looks like in a few years we'll know with the Apple car.

        I won't ever buy one, but I'm interested to see what schemes they cook up to fleece the consumer who buys one of their vehicles.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Mandatory 5 year minimum.

        "cars with non replaceable tires without disassembling the whole car. "

        Have you seen how hard it is to replace a position or indicator lamp in the headlight assembly of most modern cars? (Bumper removal in a number of cases)

      3. xpz393

        Re: Mandatory 5 year minimum.

        That’s a frighteningly good euphemism for electric cars:

        “fuel tanks that shrink with time” : Battery capacity degrades over time, i.e. you can travel fewer miles on a single charge as the battery gets older/goes through more charge cycles.

        “non replaceable tires without disassembling the whole car“ Change “Tyres” for “Batteries” and you’re kinda there… Owners of 7yr old Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 electric cars are facing a postcode lottery of whether or not their dealership will even offer a battery change, and those that do charge an eye-watering amount due to the labour involved to pulling the car apart to get to the batteries, and the cost of the batteries themselves.

        The situation saddens me, as I am a proponent of electric cars (I'm about to take delivery of one), but this issue around refreshing the batteries really needs to be sorted in a way that’s feasible for the dealers/garages to do, the owners to afford, and the old battery to be fully recycled so that we don’t create a huge amount of landfill waste.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Mandatory 5 year minimum.

      The car industry makes a lot of money from the various MoT schemes: have you seen the price of "original" spare parts? This is where the printing got its ideas from.

      5 years mandatory for consumer electronics is illusory and it's not and probably wouldn't make much of a difference to the market. It's far more important to make the damn things easier to repair and, when they do reach end of life, have better programmes for recycling.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Mandatory 5 year minimum.

        Durability should be higher on your list. The more durable something is, the less the need for repair.

      2. Aitor 1

        Re: Mandatory 5 year minimum.

        Then let me pay for support.

        I would pay say £10 a year for security patches after the first two years if they support the phone for say 8 years.

        They would also make a some money, if they get 10 million subscribers, that is quite some income there.. for essentially merging.

    3. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Mandatory 5 year minimum.

      I'd agree in terms of security updates, but OS upgrades are a bonus (remember that you're trying to define the minimum acceptable standard, not a "good case").

      I'd expect some upgrade path, but I wouldn't necessarily expect kit that hasn't been sold for the last 4 years to be able to run the latest version of whatever OS is on it. I *would* expect security update to be backported.

      1. HildyJ Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Mandatory 5 year minimum.

        Nonsense. I would expect OS updates as well with the understanding that the kit may run slower due to increased 'features'.

        My 2016 Pixel 2 was updated from Android 8 to Android 11 including all the feature updates. My 2016 PC has gone from Win8 to the current Win10 including all the feature updates. And my 2013 Xbox One was receiving OS updates until at least December when I migrated to the Series X.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Mandatory 5 year minimum.

      Five years of security upgrades is good, but you really don't want to five years of OS upgrades, it just means the device becomes unusable as the hardware struggles under the bloat.

    5. Stuart Halliday

      Re: Mandatory 5 year minimum.

      Wouldn't it be nice if companies offered a 5 year repair policy. I keep my phone until the SSD wears out... Still on a Samsung S9

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Verschlimmbesserung

    Is newer better?

    Android 9 and Android 10 are noticeably leakier. Software that runs smoothly for weeks on Android 8, will slow to a crawl after a day on Android 9 and 10. Not heap memory leaks I think, more like graphics memory leaks. Or perhaps dodgy garbage compactor optimization that only work in some scenarios at the expense of other scenarios.... whatever it is, it's a PITA.

    Start at bootup? Works on Android 8, fails on Android 10, even if you go into Battery and set autolaunch it won't autolaunch power intensive apps. This is vanilla 10 we're talking about, its not an OEM problem.

    Imagine the fun of running a large cluster of these, that use-to run for months happily, and now need restarted after a day. You can't even use the "power on Power off scheduler" because the software needs to be manually started after the power on because autolaunch doesn't work now.

    The Germans have a word for it, Verschlimmbesserung. My word for it, is far less suitable for public consumption.

    1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist Bronze badge

      Re: Verschlimmbesserung

      Verschlimmbesserung

      ..and that concludes our latest episode of "awesome new word of the day"!

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Verschlimmbesserung

      And across how many devices did you test these Android version updates?

      Also, you note that the OEMs weren't involved in the Android versions... so where did the ODM binary driver blobs come from?

      Is it possible that you've done something special to experience flaws that most others haven't?

      YMMV, evidently.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Verschlimmbesserung

        2 phone types, 3 tablet types (4 if you count S3 & S7+ as different), iPlay40 is stock Android 10, all suffer the same slowdown issue.

        For the Samsung Tab S3 I was able to downgrade the firmware back to 8 to fix it, Teclast M40 (A10) supplier replaced for an M30 (A8), for the rest, its a shutdown/restart daily. Profiling shows nothing. Heap is well within limits and minimal GC blocking allocs not the issue.

        @"Is it possible that you've done something special to experience flaws that most others haven't?"

        Google "Tab s3 slow after upgrade" for examples from others. But sure, I'm running 30+ threads with a heap of 440MB, something Android 8 did, but Android 9 and 10 struggle with. So yeh, the mistake I'm making is to try to run real software on an OS that's steadily able to do less and less with each iteration.

        I notice you didn't mention the 'auto launch management' not working, but you can google that too. It seems to be a design choice that was walked back and made a battery option, and yet doesn't work properly. Downgrading the Teclast to the M30 fixed this, as did downgrading the S3's firmware.

        I notice that software gets better till the knowledgeable people driving it leave, and then it gets twiddled with. Major changes are not done, and minor 'improvements' introduce unwanted damage. *Verschlimmbesserung*.

        1. HildyJ Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Verschlimmbesserung

          Samsung doesn't care about backward compatibility with their version of Android, which is why they are only promising security updates, not feature updates. Google does a much better job with their Pixel phones with my 2016 Pixel 2 receiving all the feature updates from Android 8 to Android 11.

  4. jonathan keith Silver badge

    Pointless

    ... when you can't replace the battery in the device, which will have degraded sufficiently in 18-24 months to be effectively useless.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Pointless

      The XCover series all have replaceable batteries.

    2. Mike Lewis

      Re: Pointless

      A replaceable battery used to be important to me until I bought two for my five-year-old phone. The first was clearly a fake and died after only three charges. The second was much better but the battery connectors hadn't been tinned properly.

      I have found that keeping the batteries charged to around 40%, as recommended by the lithium-ion battery manufacturers for long-term storage, works well for prolonging battery life with five years for my mobile phone, seven for my tablet and twelve for my laptop batteries.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Pointless

        Sony Xperia phones used to let you specify a maximum percentage to charge to, say 85%, so the phone would stop charging when it got there. Apple phones, I believe, if plugged in overnight charge to 90% then pause, and then top up before before you wake.

        Its features such as these that should be noted and appreciated.

        (Missing this feature on my Galaxy I looked at XDAforums and it appears it can't be implemented without rooting. I wonder if the feature can be approximated by the USB charger... Even a simple timer would do the trick)

        1. fuzzie

          Re: Pointless

          The last few years' Xperias has had a "battery care" feature that does predictive charging. It looks at when you usually go to bed or plug it into the charger and when you get up. It'll charge up to ~80% initially and leave over night to top up to 100% about half an hour before your get up. They claim that doubles the battery's life span. My current phone is getting to two years old and I've not noticed any decrease in battery life/capacity. It also monitors your use during the day and will warn you if it looks like you'll run out before your anticipated charge time so you can enable stronger power saving features if you need.

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Pointless

            "My current phone is getting to two years old and I've not noticed any decrease in battery life/capacity."

            My current phone is two years old and gets given a regular charge during the night, often from around 40% or so. Not noticed any difference in lifespan.

            I have noticed, however, a red colour cast over half of the screen. The GBoard is black/grey, the website is white. The AMOLED screen is wearing out differently and noticeably so. It's a Samsung S9. Worth mentioning that I've used it more or less in the same manner as my previous S7 and the display on that did not suffer any obvious degradation. If I look carefully while watching Netflix, I can see the ghost of the icons of Firefox's toolbar. Thankfully it's off to the left where I can mostly ignore it, but still...

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Pointless

              "I have noticed, however, a red colour cast over half of the screen."

              Presumably you have the "Blue light filter" disabled?

              1. heyrick Silver badge

                Re: Pointless

                That is set to work in the night (8pm to 8am). However, the thing wouldn't only affect half the screen. No, this is the AMOLED wearing out. The presence of the visible Firefox buttons is evidence of that...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pointless

        Yeah, but imagine going out for the day with only 40% charge. It would indeed prolong battery life, but at the very high risk of not having a working phone for part of the day.

        Actually, what am I saying....imagine going out for the day.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Pointless

          > Yeah, but imagine going out for the day with only 40% charge

          Read Mike Lewis' comments again. He was saying that batteries being *stored* unused for a while should be left at around 40% charge.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Pointless

      Phone batteries can be replaced, just not always by the user. In the case of Apple and Samsung authorised repairers the cost is roughly 8% of the cost of the handset. Less if you go back street. You can normally save more than that when buying a handset by waiting a couple of months for a special offer.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pointless

      You can, so for example. a Note8 is less than $9 for a new battery, usually they include the tools too.

      https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32971994926.html

      It's not as hard as it seems, but if you get a crappy glass backed phone I'd suggest you also buy a replacement back at the same time, since they usually break when you pry them off. The backs come with ready to peel adhesive.

      First time you do it, its hard, but after that, it's trivial. I tend to replace tablet batteries which are a few more screws, but even they're quite easy.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pointless

      Not this battery shit again. My three year old crapple phone started to get a bit sluggish, replacing the battery cost me $50 (including the battery) and took literally 10 min.

      This is the 21st century, even if you live the hamlet of bumfuck nebraska there will be someone running a little kitchen table business fixing phones for beer money.

  5. Lee D Silver badge

    And the XCover series including the Pro... Cool.

    It took me about 4 years to find myself a suitable phone to finally upgrade to a modern Android, and I wasn't expecting it to get more than a year or two of updates.

  6. Andy Miller

    Up until now I believe the policy has been two years support from launch, new version of each model once a year. So just before the new model you were effectively getting 1 year of updates. This puts the effective years of support to between 3 and 4 years, which is doable.

    A couple of times I'd ignored Samsung as an option, because:

    * I needed a phone now,

    * the existing model had been out 11 months,

    * I wasn't going to wait for the new one

    * I wanted more than 13 months of updates.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Usually nine months after being launched, Samsung flagships can be found for a significant discount (30 - 40% off) - in part I guess because that wait would eat into the support period.

      It'll be interesting to see how this new policy affects this.

  7. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Haha, sure 4 years

    I had an unlocked Galaxy S9+ with two years of promised monthly security patches. Samsung skipped all but a few updates with the excuse that "carriers" were blocking them. Two updates permanently disabled updates, leaving people stuck unless they knew the SIM swap trick to reset the OS version. Last year the cellular, WiFi, and GPS radios started gradually degrading after an update. My cynical self questions what was in that update but the end result is what matters - a premium phone that received only a few updates then failed in 2 years.

  8. Charles Smith

    Disposable goods

    Samsung's policy of growth through the sale of short life products is the main reason I don't buy their products.

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