Samsung Galaxy A phones getting three OS updates is Android's biggest win in years

Samsung Galaxy A51 review
Samsung Galaxy A51 review (Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

During the Galaxy Note 20 launch event, Samsung made a big announcement: it committed to delivering three OS updates to its phones starting with the Galaxy S10 series, matching the Pixels for software updates.

I wrote earlier this year that two years of updates are no longer enough, particularly with flagships costing well over $1,000. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra starts at $1,300 (opens in new tab), and when you're paying that kind of money for a phone, you'd want the device to get the latest OS updates for at least three years.

Samsung committing to three updates for its mid-range phones is monumental.

Thankfully, that is the case now. Samsung will roll out three Android version updates to Galaxy S, Galaxy Note, and Galaxy Z as well as its foldables, but the bigger story here is that the same commitment is being extended to a few mid-range phones in the Galaxy A series. Samsung shared the full list of phones that will get three OS updates, and it includes the Galaxy A51, A71, and A90.

Samsung isn't just limiting the updates to the 5G-enabled versions of the A51 and A71 (opens in new tab); the regular 4G versions of either device will also get three years of updates. That's a huge deal when you consider mid-range phones have traditionally lagged behind flagships for software updates. Samsung has done a great job delivering monthly security updates and platform updates on time to its flagships, but that is not the case on its mid-range phones.

Samsung Galaxy A71 review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

So in that context, it is good to see that select models in the Galaxy A series will get the same level of software support as Samsung's flagships. Until now, the only phones in this category that were guaranteed three version updates were the Pixel 3a and now the Pixel 4a (opens in new tab), but these devices are limited to select markets and do not have the global presence commanded by Samsung's Galaxy A devices.

Samsung sells more Galaxy A phones than flagships, so this move ensures more people get updates.

In fact, the Galaxy A51 was the best-selling phone worldwide in Q1 2020, and that goes to show just how popular Samsung's mid-range phones are around the world. These devices often outsell the Galaxy S and Note flagships, and by extending the software support to the Galaxy A lineup, Samsung is ensuring that more people around can get an extra Android version update on their phones.

While Google championed the idea of delivering platform updates for three years, the Android ecosystem needed Samsung to do the same for other brands to take notice. Samsung is the biggest Android manufacturer by a huge margin, and the rest of the players tend to emulate its strategy. Samsung committing to three platform updates for the Galaxy A51, A71, and A90 makes these devices that much more enticing to potential customers, and other brands like Xiaomi and Realme will want to follow suit.

Mid-range phones have generally been relegated to second-tier status in terms of software updates, and it's great to see that Samsung is making the effort to roll out the same set of updates to its latest Galaxy A phones. I would like to see more phones added to the list — particularly budget and entry-level Galaxy A models — but for now, this is a great starting point.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

  • My last Samsung was the S3 but if they actually delivery on this promise then maybe I might get another one.
  • I want to be excited about this, but anytime I remember that Qualcomm has said in the past that their SoC can support up to six OS update, it makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with these manufacturers.
  • They're a business, not a charity. It's not in their best interest for people to hold on to their phones for six years. They want you to upgrade every three.
  • I'm so glad Apple is a charity. The iPhone 6S, released Sept 2015 will be getting iOS 14 here in a few weeks. Imagine how much money Apple could make if they weren't so benevolent.
  • I'm looking at my 6S Plus as I'm writing this, and updates have made it annoyingly sluggish. I'm not looking forward to it becoming worse with iOS 14.
  • The 6s Plus can definitely handle at least one more iOS update. Where’s the Android 11 update for the 2015 Android flagship? Oh wait it got abandoned by their OEMs and if you replace your battery of your 6s Plus then it won’t be as sluggish anymore so the the “6s Plus being old” excuses won’t wash. I will update my 11 Pro Max so it’s always secure as it’s a major reason among many why I am using an iPhone as my daily driver again and will continue to do so from now on.
  • Don't update it. Problem solved.
  • So my S10+ will be getting Android 11 AND 12? Is that correct?
  • Yes, the s10 series will get Android 12
  • That is awesome!
  • The audacity of Samsung to not extend the Note 9 another year of OS Updates is pure you know what in my book and in many other's. The Note 9 can easily handle with its strong hardware and software a third OS Update. This was purposely done by Sammy to get folks to jump to the Note 20's. I could easily buy a 20 but why? My Note 9 is running stronger than ever!
  • Good job Samsung. Props.
  • It’s a step in the right direction that samsung is giving 3 years of OS updates but Apple still has Android beat in updates at 5 years.
  • That's good news!