Samsung customers hoping to hold the company to its promises of software updates are keeping a close eye on the update schedule page, and so are we. The latest change to the constantly-updated list features a few additions, a few subtractions, and a significant change for a former flagship, the Galaxy S9. The S9 and its bigger brother the S9+ are now getting quarterly updates, a downgrade from the monthly schedule.
Even though each Android security update has a specific month in the name, the patches are usually provided to manufacturers a week or two in advance, so phone makers can have the system upgrades ready in time (or not). Samsung has been known to pull the switch before the first day of a given month, and that's happening again for the February 2021 patches.
We're big fans of Google, obviously. But we also live in the real world, where Google does a lot of stuff that's unambiguously bad. If you want to use open source Android without getting its parent company involved, then you have a few options. Previously only available in Europe, the eSolutions shop is now selling versions of the Galaxy S9 scrubbed clean of all proprietary Google software to the US and Canada.
Samsung has been near the front of the pack when it comes to releasing monthly security updates for a while now. The December 2020 update has rolled out to several of the company's phones in the United States, and a similar schedule is now taking place with Samsung's international models.
Below is listed every Samsung phone sold outside the United States that has been patched to the December level. We’ve marked the latest entries in bold to make them easy to spot.
The Galaxy S20 line came preinstalled with the Android 10-based One UI 2.1 packing a whole bunch of exclusive features. These are now trickling down to older Galaxy flagships as they get their own One UI 2.1 updates. The OS version landed on the Galaxy Note9 about a week ago, and it’s now time for the S9 to get the latest build, which also bumps its security patch level to June 2020.
LineageOS is the most popular custom ROM in existence, boasting official support for dozens of devices. The first Android 10 builds arrived earlier this month, and Lineage has continued to add to the roster of supported phones since then. The last time we covered the LineageOS 17.1, builds for the Nexus 6 and first-gen Pixels had just arrived, and there are even more additions now.
Despite updates to Samsung's roadmap indicating that Android 10 for the Galaxy S9 and S9+ might be further out than expected, the company has just started pushing the latest Android build to first phones from 2018's lineup. In contrast to the Galaxy S10's extremely slow rollout, the update is already live in the US and a few countries in Europe.
With the Galaxy S11 S20 launch fast approaching, it's not surprising to see older Samsung phones being discounted. The Galaxy S9 is almost two years old now, though it's still a perfectly usable phone with a ton of features. Brand-new T-Mobile S9 units are currently being offered for just $349.99 — that's a lot of bang for the buck.
Samsung introduced a new feature called Bixby Routines to its phones last year, allowing you to set up simple automated rules for certain actions — sort of like IFTTT, or a less powerful, built-in version of Tasker for Samsung phones. Though it is available on devices like the Galaxy S10, Note10, and Galaxy Fold, Samsung never brought the feature to the older S9 or Note9, even in recent Android 10/One UI 2 updates. However, we have verified that sideloading the latest version of the Bixby Routines app brings the feature to older devices, including the Galaxy S9 and Note9, and it also works for some on older devices like the Galaxy S8 running Android Pie.
Samsung has turned things around with its Android 10 rollout, updating its latest flagships faster than anyone expected. With the Note10 and S10 series out of the way, Samsung is focusing its attention on the Galaxy S9 from 2018. Today the S9 and S9+ gets a sixth beta build of Android 10 ahead of the imminent stable release.