While AT&T rigamajigs their subsidized pricing of upgrading your smartphone, Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S4 is currently two Android versions behind on AT&T. Stuck at Android version 4.2.2, AT&T is leaving its Samsung customers without a clear timeline of when they will be able upgrade to 4.3 or even the latest version of Android 4.4 KitKat. Unlike iOS 7 which boost a 74% adoption rate on compatible iPhones, Android 4.4 is only running on 1.1% of devices.
What’s missing by not enabling the latest versions?
- – Bluetooth Smart also known as called Bluetooth Low Energy or Bluetooth LE is not yet activated which enables connecting devices such as Fitbit activity trackers, home automation gadgets, and smart sensors similar to Apple’s iBeacon.
- – Samsung Galaxy Gear customers are also furious that they are unable to connect their smartwatch to their Samsung Android phones on AT&T.
- – Android operating system updates also include safety precautions such as limiting access to apps and content for parents to protect their children’s mobile usage.
- – One of the most important social updates missing is universal Emoji support in Android.
Speaking with AT&T support, an earlier attempt to update to Android 4.3 was pushed out to customers then immediately recalled from causing even more issues by bricking smartphones with buggy upgrade cycles. 4.3 was later tried again but then pulled down without notice. Customer attempting to manually upgrade are required to set their device in Airplane mode because any received calls or text during the process will crash the update. Updating through Samsung’s Kies sync software is also unavailable for US Customers.
Most rumors point to AT&T and Samsung skipping Android 4.3 all together and upgrading to KitKat 4.4 sometime in mid-January.
Why does this happen?
Every new Android phone on AT&T comes with three versions of common apps, one by Google, apps by Samsung, and AT&T’s own apps. Having three calendar or messaging apps integrated a system level by default would cause development issues for any programmer. Additional unless apps preloaded on devices paid for by companies for their inclusion, also known as “Bloatware”, is another upgrade blocker. Examples like Blurb who help subsidize AT&T revenue while also littering the App Store with low star reviews from customers. Additional factors caused by Android device fragmentation delay upgrade cycles.
If you’re an AT&T customer and a Samsung fan who also wants the latest Android updates, consider buying an unlocked device if you can afford it.