Samsung has finally gotten Android updates right — here's why

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with S Pen
(Image credit: Future)

Samsung is proof that a massive corporation can change. In the last four years or so, the Korean phone maker has radically shifted when it comes to Android software updates. Whereas before, the company had been one of the worst offenders in the smartphone industry, it has now become one of the best in terms of a handset's lifecycle.

Prior to the Galaxy S10, which came out in 2019, I had trouble recommending a Samsung phone. It could take many months before your phone would get an update, if it did at all. Samsung put even its flagship devices out to pasture after two to three years at most. You basically got enough updates to last you until you could upgrade your phone via your carrier. 

At the same time, Apple had already proven itself the king of smartphone support, making sure even really old iPhones got the latest iOS update. Buy an iPhone, and you can expect it to still receive updates four or five years down the road.

But here we are in 2022 and the story has changed. Samsung now leads the pack with Android phones, both in terms of sales and support. While Google Pixel devices get the latest versions of Android on day one (or close enough to it) — the only spot where Google still has the advantage in my opinion — Samsung promises four years of Android updates and five years of security patches. The Pixel 6 is only guaranteed three years of platform upgrades, though it too will see five years of patches.

galaxy s22 plus review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Samsung has also proven itself to be a lot quicker on the turnaround than it was not too long ago. The latest Galaxy S phones get security patches extremely quickly, sometimes beating out Pixels. While major Android updates still take some time, Samsung nonetheless gets the job done. (You can sometimes sign up for beta access if you're keen to get in on the new OS version early.)

Huge companies rarely change, and if they do, it takes a very long time. But it only took Samsung a few years to land in its current spot, so I think the Korean tech giant deserves commendation. My whole job revolves around phones and I still have to look twice when I see how far Samsung has come.

The Galaxy S series has truly matured, the members of which firmly cementing themselves among the best Android phones. The Galaxy Z series continues to grow, with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 proving that foldables might have a leg to stand on. And in the more budget-conscious spaces, the Galaxy A series offers great experiences without breaking the bank — and they're included under Samsung's new update policy.

So good job, Samsung. In a world where everything has gotten more expensive (and wages haven't increased to match the rising costs), making sure people can keep their phones for longer without the software becoming outdated is admirable. I just hope other Android device manufacturers take notice and follow suit.

Read next: The EU could force Android phone makers to offer better updates, and more repair options

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.