If you have a late-model Samsung phone on US Cellular, odds are pretty good that there's a software update waiting for you. The Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 flagships are getting an updated build of KitKat, along with the last-gen Galaxy Note 3. Don't get your hopes too high: all three phones will still be running Android 4.4.2 after the update. But Samsung is pushing out a few incremental changes, notably for the dialer and camera.
Update, January 11th, 2015: Verizon has issued another update alert for the Galaxy Note 4.4.4. This one also updates the phone to 4.4.4 and includes the same changelog, but for some reason the build number is changed to N900VVRUDNK1. Whether or not there was a problem with the original rollout, we can't say, but it appears to be continuing.
No, it's not Android 5.0. There, we've got that over with.
Raise your hand if you like carrier apps added to your phone. Anyone. Go ahead, don't be shy. Well if you don't, here's a great example of why companies like AT&T should leave the software alone. An over-the-air update to 4.4.4 for the carrier-customized version of the Galaxy Note 3 was sent out on November 28th, then unceremoniously pulled. A previous message on the support page explained why:
Those looking for an off-contract deal on fairly recent phones have a treat today: the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4 are available in refurbished condition on eBay for $320 (Note 3) and $220 (S4) with free shipping. They are Verizon devices, but are unlocked and technically able to pick up 3G from GSM carriers, according to the seller.
If you're the owner of a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 for AT&T, you should be getting your Android 4.4.4 OTA update starting today. This will bring you up from Android 4.4.2, and Samsung has packed in a few extras with this 459MB OTA, as well. Namely: Kid mode, SideSync 3.0, Knox 2.0, virtual tour mode in the camera app, and some updated AT&T bloatware.
The Uber app has been added to the list of things-AT&T-won't-let-you-uninstall, and I imagine there are a boatload of bug-fixes and the standard exploit patches you would expect in an OTA of this magnitude.
Each year, buying the current Galaxy Note device is an expensive undertaking. To own one off-contract, the damage done to your wallet is quite a lot to take in at once. AT&T, for example, wants around $800 to sell you this year's model. The most affordable way around this is to purchase last year's release. It's no less powerful than it was a couple of days ago, and aside from eventually reaching the end of its support period sooner than the newer version, it will satisfy most users just fine.
For some of us, breaking a smartphone is unimaginable. For others, it's only a matter of time. Either way, it could pay to have your ducks in a row. Samsung has introduced a new device replacement plan, and since no less than 107% of the world's phones were made by the manufacturer, a good number of people could benefit from this. But it won't come cheap.
Samsung's "Protection Plus Mobile Elite" plan costs $99.99 and provides coverage for two years.