December 20, 2014

Samsung Insider Takes to XDA to Explain How Updates Work, It's "Largely Political"

The situation of how and when updates are pushed to phones is, and always has been, a hot topic in the world of Android.  And right now, no series of phones is a hotter topic than the Galaxy S phones. When will the various devices see their Android 2.2 update with Flash and all the great stuff that comes with it?  Picture a snowball rolling down a hill, getting bigger by the moment and you’ll have an image of the growing hostility over the situation. Just what the heck is going on over at Samsung?

Someone reporting to be from the inside of Samsung has taken to XDA to share a few details.  This source fills in a few blanks as to what goes into the various types of updates one might see on their Android phone. As he/she explains it, the withholding of the update is “largely political one, not a technological one”.

There are three types of updates that can hit Android phones: critical , maintenance, and feature.  Here are the differences.

When a carrier decides to sell a phone, a contract is usually written between the phone manufacturer and the carrier. In this contract, the cost of updates (to the carrier) is usually outlined.

  • Critical updates are those that resolve a critical bug in the phone, such as the phone overheating – typically free to the carrier.
  • Maintenance updates involve routine updates to resolve bugs and other issues reported by the carrier – will have some maintenance fee associated with it.
  • Feature updates add some new feature in software that wasn’t present before – typically costly to carriers.

I wanted to paraphrase the source and give you bullet points as to what’s going on, but honestly, it’s better if you read it as it’s written.  It’s altogether, sad, scary, and unfortunate.

In the past, most phone updates would mainly consist of critical and maintenance updates. Carriers almost never want to incur the cost of a feature update because it is of little benefit to them, adds little to the device, and involves a lot of testing on the carrier end. Android has changed the playing field, however – since the Android Open Source Project is constantly being updated, and that information being made widely available to the public, there is pressure for the phone to be constantly updated with the latest version of Android. With most manufacturers, such as HTC, Motorola, etc. This is fine and considered a maintenance upgrade. Samsung, however, considers it a feature update, and requires carriers to pay a per device update fee for each incremental Android update.

Now, here’s where the politics come in: most U.S. carriers aren’t very happy with Samsung’s decision to charge for Android updates as feature updates, especially since they are essentially charging for the Android Open Source Project’s efforts, and the effort on Samsung’s end is rather minimal. As a result of perhaps, corporate collusion, all U.S. carriers have decided to refuse to pay for the Android 2.2 update, in hopes that the devaluation of the Galaxy S line will cause Samsung to drop their fees and give the update to the carriers. The situation has panned out differently in other parts of the world, but this is the situation in the United States.

Some of you might have noticed Verion’s Fascinate updated, but without 2.2 : This is a result of a maintenance agreement Samsung must honor combined with Verizon’s unwillingness to pay the update fees. In short, Android 2.2 is on hold for Galaxy S phones until the U.S. carriers and Samsung reach a consensus.

Now, bear in mind that this is in no way an official endorsement from Samsung.  The current company line is much different and paints a more optimistic appraisal.



  • Tansen

    This is so sad… this is making me want to ditch the galaxy s line. I’m tired of waiting for what’s been out for months everywhere else. Sad that we can’t even get froyo while other phones are already set to get gingerbread. I’m not even sure who to blame here. Samsung deserves to get paid something I think, and I know they don’t Want to sell themselves short. But carriers should do something to look out for their customers, not themselves. Otherwise they will quickly see that people will not necessarily put up with this selfish behavior.

    • G_A

      Well, this IS clearly a feature update. So the carriers signed an agreement they now regret agreeing to, and use their own customers dissatisfaction to try to pressure Samsung. Should take noone more than half a second to figure out whom to blame.

      That the carrier quadropoly mafia in the US is, has been, and will always be bad for the consumer is a known fact – sadly that’s what you get when you let them reign free from consumer protecting regulations.

  • Scmo

    Cool get to be the first to comment. That seems like what is going on, samsung you greedy devil. Go HTC! lol I almost went for the Vibrants alure but glad I held out for the mytouch4g. Whew

  • Scmo

    Damn second to comment, wasn’t fast enough lol

    • RockinEvo

      LOL maybe next time

  • me

    this is terrible! I hope someone creates an app or some other way of letting samsung know that they suck and that they should give us the update. It’s not fair that samsung is asking for update fees. Don’t they make enough money from loading the galaxy S phones with crap applications from factory? That’s bad enough. now we have to live with 2.1 when everyone has 2.2 and 2.3. this is awful

  • RHall

    Ya know what? Screw the carriers and their BS. I’ll gladly donate to the Developers of ROMs like Cognition, Perception, Darky to make my phone the way I like it. As far as I’m concerned the Carriers can’t (likely, completely incapable of) hold a candle to the individual developers that make our Droid phones as slick as possible.

  • Tj

    @me
    How can you blame Samsung for wanting more money? I want more money, dont you?

    It seems as if Samsung wrote a contract with what they want and all thw carriers dont with to pay what they agreed to in the contract!

    If the carriers didn’t like this, they could have required froyo to be installed before they would sell it or they could have refused to sign the contract as it was. Instead all the carriers signed and now refuse to send the update because they’ll have to pay for it and instead are depending on customers getting mad and hurting Samsungs reputation.

    By their logic I should stop paying my cell bill because its too high. Ill get a lot of people to complain with me and I can force atmosphere to lower their prices.

    • me

      @Tj

      well it seems like all the other manufacturers offer updates without a charge but samsung wants money for updates installed on every single phone with 2.1

      i want more money yeah, but i think samsung should be reasonable and see what the other manufacturers are doing with their updates. i originally had the 1.5 g1 and when i got the 1.6 i was the happiest cat. i appreciated that and i said good things to my friends for both tmobile and HTC. and now, samsung wants to be a hard$%^ about it.

      I think they should give us the update for free. i know that it costs them money, but that’s what samsung should do to keep its customers happy.

      • http://www.twitter.com/kstagg kstagg

        How is Samsung unique to the other manufacturers? Who is to say that the other ones don’t charge a fee for updates like those mentioned above but some carriers don’t want to part with the update fee.

        For example – I don’t hear about Sprint’s EPIC having a problem getting the update to Froyo and that is a Galaxy S phone from Samsung. Do you think that Samsung waived the fee for Sprint? I don’t think so.

        You want someone to blame? Blame the carrier you’re with. I’m willing to bet that every manufacturer does business the same way but its just the same carriers are – well – better than others. If only they understood that while THEY (the carriers) may not see the benefit for the quick upgrade, they would see a huge benefit in more customers coming to them when the latter see how quickly the phones are updated.

        • http://www.twitter.com/kstagg kstagg

          I stand corrected. The Epic has Android 2.1 – no Froyo. Scuse me whildst I wipe the egg off my face.

          :]

          Soooooo – anyway. Uh, Root the damned phone.

    • valkama

      Its sad where people like you think, “Its ok to do what they want as long as they make a buck” Its greed that is hurting the global society and if All business got their way they would make it us slaves and force us to buy their products.

      But with all that said, this is a free market economy and Samsung sales will start to be hit dramatically if people know they will have to pay every time there is a maintenance of feather upgrade. Imagine you pay $200 for your phone, and every 6 months they say if you want to upgrade it, it will cost you an extra $20 to $40 dollar. Who would be ok with that?

  • PIPE

    MY VIBRANT BE OVERHEATING ALL THA TIME …SOMEONE KNOWS HOW TO FIX IT…LET ME KNOW…BEFORE I GO BUY ME SOMETHING ELS…

    • Santos

      Buy something else

  • robert

    more the reason that all android phones should come open like the nexus line of phones to be more customizable for the buyer and not the dealer and then we can give our money to the people who realy should get it (the xda team)

  • nathan

    Shouldn’t updates of any kind or bug fixes be covered when we purchase the phone at any price? If I am paying for a device I expect it to be covered for this kind of stuff. If they will not cover it then maybe should just be given away for free with no contract so no one can complain.

  • René

    Why shoot yourself in the foot by buying a phone from a carrier in the first place?

  • James

    Dear Samsung,
    Thanks for helping me decide which brand not to purchase in the future. I was really hoping you had changed your ways after all the trouble of waiting for an update for the original Blackjack, but I see that things are still the same.

  • Mr_Tricorder

    At least this answer makes more sense than any other I’ve heard. That’s the final nail in the coffin for Samsung as far as I’m concerned. This Vibrant is the last Android phone by Samsung I’ll buy unless they change their policy (except maybe for Nexus-branded phones).

  • Riddlin

    I feel sorry for the people that bought a Galaxy Tab. LOL

  • JJ

    if its like that, then maybe they need to start charging for updates to your phone. I would pay if its reasonable and comes in a timely manner. they can put it in the android market to download for a price of a app.

    • meanmcclean

      Thats like saying Google should start charging the manufacturers if they decide to use their own custom UI on top of Android. That kind of defeats the purpose of the platform and Samsung is massively contributing to Android Fragmentation.

  • http://www.ski309.com Mike

    This news actually gives me peace of mind. I can accept that Samsung thinks Froyo is a feature upgrade while I think it is a maintenance upgrade. I won’t be buying another phone from Samsung because of it, mind you, but I can accept it.

  • meanmcclean

    So Samsung is attempting to charge for something that is free and black balling their customers because of this. I understand time goes into the development of these software upgrades and Samsung must pay their developers for that time, but of 10 million units sold subsidized by t-mobile we paid $200, i’m sure Sammy sam took in at least $4 to 450 per unit, and they want more from free software. Google needs to maybe step in here and say NO!!!!!!

    In any event I feel that Samsung will feel the pain of this decision with lack of sales on future devices, especially when they are releasing future products re-badged from apple hardware without the latest software version, and obviously no plans to offer “Feature Upgrades” without expecting a little something for their troubles from the carriers. Crap, Never again will I purchase a Samsung phone. I hope the LG Optimus kicks the Galaxy series A$$. Nova display, here I come.

    • Clarke

      I highly doubt google will do anything. There only concern seems to be providing android to whoevers willing use it. This is a problem between the US carriers and manufacturers. What Im wondering is, how does the ordering process ( for phones) work between the two. i.e., does TMobile request specific features they want in a new product or do they just choose from a list of products available from the manufactures? I find it weird that the one vanilla phone samsung made (nexus s) left so much to be desired..design and spec wise. Also carriers need to start demanding more Vanilla android devices. Im sure thats the way google meant this be and we wouldnt have to deal with this nonsense

  • epicfail

    I feel sorry for all Samsung Galaxy S owners and all owners of anything Samsung!! ( I own an Epic) :((

    Lame, Samsung. If only HTC had made a copycat of the Epic…same size, same everything… call it the HTC Epic or something hahaha.. well sucks to be Samsung. I hope that someone from samsung would read these forums and customers reviews and etc… Good thing i rooted my epic and got froyo on it.. unless i would of had to wait for a decision that will be made by some big shot baller (Top dog at Samsung) who probably uses an Iphone to decide when they want to make “less” money.

    Samsung’s already announced more than once about how they plan to sell so many more quantities of Samsung products and such.. hint: sell more… Not sell better quality with more customer support.

    Samsung=fail.

    Note to Samsung: Put the customers first. They will in return get you what you want.

    • seth

      Why feel sorry? My Captivate has been running AWESOME on 2.2.1 for months now and I’ll continue to update it. I don’t ask Dell to continuously update my laptop, I prefer to run whatever I want.

  • SC

    Other than this one “source” where’s the proof? Believe me I’m not defending Samsung here but what about this?

    “Fortunately, Samsung’s Galaxy S line in Canada is currently receiving 2.2 updates for the Telus Fascinate and on three versions of the Vibrant sold by Virgin Mobile, Bell, and SaskTel.”

    http://androidcommunity.com/samsung-…rest-20101227/

    Now when someone from one of those companies states or leaks info that they paid for updates to 2.2 from Samsung I might believe this “story”. However, based on the amount of complaints that usually come from Canadian cellphone users about all sorts of things I’m having a real hard time believing they paid Samsung.

    I’m so over getting an “official” update via T-Mobile, just root and load up Nero 5 and you think you have a new phone. We’re talking about 1/2 hour of time.

  • AndyXS

    You guys in the US gotta do something with your to strong providers. There is a kind of oligopoly going on there. In germany (same for the rest of europe..) i always buy my phone (GSM, obviously) separetely from any provider contract. I never buy devices that got ANY provider modifications (aka branding). Thus i get the updates immediately. Having GSM every phone works in every network. This is what i call a liberated market. If i wanna switch i just replace the SIM card…

    Then i am looking for a nice contract / plan without a fixed time period. This allows quick response to cheaper offers. In germany the no thrills contracts are the cheapest way to call and use 3G for traffic anyway. Currently 9 cents a minute and 9 cents a text is a good offer. For data 5 euros give you 250 MB, 10 euros give you 1gb allowance. After the limit has been reached the speed is reduced to EDGE. So your’re not lost.

    Yes we do have subsidized phones from T-Mobile, Vodafone, etc. These are the bundles for the idots, that are proud owning a good phone for just some small inital euros and wonder later on why there bills are that high and their phones are crippled due to provider brandings.

    • mark

      Yep, I wish that were the case here. Europe also mandated standard frequencies, too.

      Even with an unlocked phone in the U.S. (I have the Nexus S), I’m pretty much tied to one carrier, T-Mobile. Sure I can go to AT&T, our other GSM provider but their are two caveats:

      1. AT&T does not offer an unsubsidized plan, so I pay the same price as someone who bought a carrier phone.
      2. AT&T uses different frequencies, so while the Nexus S would work, it would be 2G/Edge only.

      So we’re just screwed here, no matter what we try to do. :-(

    • masterpfa

      ” These are the bundles for the idiots”
      That’s a bit harsh. As with most lessons in life, they aren’t learnt until experienced, not everyone has had the foresight like yourself to never have had a contract.

  • John Lane

    Another reason I do not want an Android tablet tied to a cell phone carrier. Just give me plain old wifi and vanilla updates.

    • masterpfa

      Any tablet I would consider buying would not be via any carrier what so ever, I am seriously considering all future phones to be outright purchases too as my current Nexus 1 is.

  • Ridokilos

    So how about I pay them myself for the damn thing?

  • sweetbuns

    Next time i buy a samsung phone I’ll buy more lube, I feel daterapped into buying this phone, From day 1 I was told it would be upgraded, nope. I should have bought a DINC, IT’s sad too cause It could have been a awesome phone. Almost there, but they ruin it making me feel like I just started a two year contract just to be screwed from day one.

    • J

      Sweetbuns said it best. Empty promises and screwed into a two year contract.

  • http://patentlystupid.com rahlquist

    With all the rumors flying around about Samsung and why they aren’t providing updates to US phone owners, I would like to make a request of all of the sites providing quality Android coverage.

    Stop doing product announcements, reviews, and leaks of Samsung devices.

    Samsung has shown they do not care about the customers they acquired through the carriers and the Galaxy S line. They have shown they will repeatedly misrepresent the availability of upcoming fixes that they have promised since August. Their facebook pages are littered with hundreds if not thousands of users crying out for an answer or even a response as to why! They are ignoring us much as the quotation “Let them eat cake!” attributed (incorrectly or not) to Marie Antoinette ignored the needs, wants and desires of the working class.

    Samsung want us to eat eclair.

    The reason I am making this request of the Android sites out there is because of the weight and influence you carry. Thousands of people every day get locked into carrier contracts for 2 years purchasing devices that your early product reviews make sound wonderful, when many are proven over time to fall short. While their ultimate dissatisfaction lies with the manufacturer, the reviews are at least partly responsible. I understand you walk a fine line already as it is but continued support of a company whose policies are so anti consumer is irresponsible and damaging to your readership.

    Recall the public outrage over the tech issues companies would have ignored in the past, the Pentium floating point division bug comes to mind, and Intel’s brush off of consumer concern. Most recently though the iPhone 4 antenna issue come to mind. Even a company as traditionally stoic as Apple eventually had to come to answer the increasingly repeated claims, true or not. Now we are talking an order of magnitude in the difference of scope, there are nearly 10x as many iOs devices out there compared to Galaxy S though (iPhone 4 compared to Galaxy S is much closer). so in comparison lets use a know way to determine the weight of comments on an issue.

    If you google “samsung galaxy S gps problem” you get 979,000 results, google “iphone 4 antenna problem” and get 1,010,000 results.

    Now taking into account there is a difference in the number of users how is it that those numbers are so close?

    In closing I again repeat my request. Cease all coverage of Samsung products until they take responsibility for taking care of their customer base by providing actual software updates instead of lip service.

    This request will be echoed here http://www.patentlystupid.com/node/48155

    Thanks for your time.

  • http://Potholesinmyblog.com Hatorii_Hanzo

    Well I can honestly say this is my first and last Samsung phone,I’ve had my Epic since Oct. and will get rid of it as soon as I see what Sprint have in store after their big revealing on Feb. 7th

  • the1who
  • ronnalah

    I was duped into buying the Samsung Moment after being promised by the Sprint rep that the Froyo update for the Moment would happen. It didn’t. I’m on my third Moment in just over 7 months. Last Samsung product – ever – that I will buy. Actually, probably the last Android phone I’ll buy. Next one, I’ll most likely go with a device where both the OS and the hardware are from the same manufacturer.

    • masterpfa

      At the end of the day it’s your own personal experience that matters.

  • itrustme

    Fuck Samsung.
    Sent from my nexus s

  • Ryan McKay

    Who’s to blame? Some vote for Samsung others for the Carriers. I’ll tell you what. Either way the Galaxy S will probably be my last Samsung phone.

  • Marty B

    1. Having just returned from England, plans are too expensive here especially 3G data for devices like the Ipad and Iphone. Pre-paid with data is far too expensive here compared to England.

    2. It seems like some carriers are better at updates and some phone manufacturers are better. For example Motorola on Verizon on one end of the scale and Samsung (on any carrier on the other). As long as people know they can decide to by a motorola handset, or an HTC one.

    3. While generally I am not a big fan of regulation, I do think that if a carrier has you handset upgrade policy of 2 years they should be providing firmware for at least 18 months or so. Sprint with the HTC Hero is a prime offender. 6 months after it came out they said they weren’t going to have 2.2 on it. We can see that hardware incompatibility is BS because the XDA types seem to be able to do it (without the benefit of tools that the carriers and manufacturers have!).

    The carriers should be required to support a handset (within the hardware limits of the device) for the replacement length of the device – 6 months or they should have to allow customers to purchase a new device fully subsidized.

    4. If data is “limited” customers should be able to use that data any way they see fit (carriers should not be able to charge more for tethering on “limited data plans” for example). If the plan is actually unlimited (perhaps only Sprint at this point?) then the carrier should be able to charge extra for some uses of data such as tethering.

    5. Any device that is purchased at full price (un-subsidized) should have to be unlocked (GSM) upon request. Any subsidized device should be required to be unlocked after 90 days of paid service by the user if that carrier has any ETF fee in the contract for that account.

  • masterpfa

    If the above is true it’s the consumer that is getting punished.
    If it’s only Samsung that are doing this, then for those about to purchase a phone,
    “You Have Been Warned!”
    Now might be a time to research into which Suppliers/Phones manufacturers have updated in the past and to choose their phones.

  • fineline

    I can also say that I work for Samsung and give untruths about the upgrade of FroYo. Certain facts about his/her statement also do not add up. My Question is the Galaxy S users have a contract with their carrier and not Samsung. Why has no carrier not commented? Is it a case of the dog wags the tail or the tail wags the dog?

    It was the carrier that wanted variants of the Galaxy S with all the frills such as Media hub etc, Samsung made the handsets for the carrier. Samsung does not sell the handset to the contract holder. Question why then is Samsung taking a pounding when the Law states there is a contract between the cellular user and the carrier?

    The fact is I do not work for them but in all my years in the corporate environment I have seen many conspiracy theories. This is one of them and to the so called, “Samsung insider”, your brains truly are in your butt! You are factually incorrect, misinformed and clearly lack moral fibre. I may add wars start because of such rumors.

    You Mr/Miss/Mrs you are an untruth monger. The fact is go to your carrier who you have a contract with!

    For Mr/Mrs/Miss monger which opposing handset supplier do you work for?

    • masterpfa

      Who will ever know the truth? What people do know if you have a Samsung handset chances are you have been waiting for an update that just hasn’t materialised. Whereas some manufacturers with the same carriers have
      That is a fact

    • J

      OK samsung employee, give us the real facts. If the phone is made by samsung and the update promised by samsung, where is it. All we get from samsung customer service (lol) is runaround and wrong release dates. Why does a company treat their customers that way? And yes we are your customers because we bought a samsung product. Instead of runaround and misinformation from samsung customer service why dont they tell us the truth? If it is the carriers fault, tell us, dont continually feed us lies.

  • BB

    Simple! give this phone to kids, and go to HTC or MOTO!! Greedy Samsung!!!