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article imageSamsung smartphones to come with monthly security updates

By James Walker     Mar 14, 2017 in Technology
Samsung is preparing to start issuing monthly security updates for its unlocked Android smartphones in the U.S. The company has previously been widely criticised for its apparent lack of support for unlocked handsets, leaving users waiting for patches.
Samsung currently releases security updates for non-carrier phones each quarter. It also delays releases of new Android versions. While every major U.S. network has now released Android 7.0 Nougat for Samsung's flagship Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, the firm's own unlocked handsets are still waiting in the dark.
As regular software updates are normally a major selling point of unlocked phones, Samsung's approach doesn’t make much sense. The international versions of the S7 and S7 Edge do receive regular updates. It's only in the U.S. that Samsung postpones releases.
The difference is apparently down to the split nature of Samsung's flagships. The U.S. version of the phones has a Qualcomm processor whereas the international edition uses Samsung's in-house Exynos silicon. To date, Samsung has been reluctant to update the Qualcomm phones sold in the U.S., despite their foreign counterparts seeing monthly patches.
This staggered update cycle is finally set to change, according to a report from ZDNet. When the news site emailed Samsung about its release schedules, a company spokesperson cited "various circumstances" as the reason for the Exynos delays. However, the representative also claimed the problems have been "resolved" and that Samsung is now committed to releasing monthly security updates for supported devices, including U.S. models.
"Due to various circumstances, we have been releasing updates for unlocked (open) Galaxy devices in the U.S. on a quarterly basis," said Samsung. "However, we have now resolved the challenges; and we are committed to releasing security updates for those devices on a monthly basis."
Samsung pledged to release an update for U.S. devices "soon" containing March's security patches. The package will also include every other update released to date, bringing U.S. phones fully in-line with their international Exynos-equipped siblings. Security updates were last released back in December.
With Samsung now putting the finishing touches on the Galaxy S8 before its worldwide launch later this month, the news could make the new phone more attractive to U.S. buyers. Generally, unlocked phones can receive updates months before carrier devices. While the networks are making progress in getting security patches to users, major Android releases are still left hanging while the carriers approve them for use.
Going forward, people buying a Samsung phone outright in the U.S. will be able to have confidence it'll be fully supported throughout its lifetime. Actually purchasing the phone could still be an issue though – last year, Samsung made U.S. customers wait three months before launching the unlocked Galaxy S7.
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