A few things have changed since I last reported on Samsung's Android 4.3 update schedule in North America. Since last week, the Android 4.3 update for the S3 on the Sprint network did indeed come through as expected, and the S4 on T-Mobile finally got the love too. Canadian S3's and Note 2's started getting the update and the AT&T Galaxy S4 update was finally resumed after a hiatus. Let me break down on who's got what and where, and fill you in on what's been going right and wrong with Samsung's update process.
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The following carriers have delivered the Android 4.3 update to the Samsung Galaxy S4: in the USA, AT&T have resumed the update rollout after suspending it due to the numerous problems affecting S4 owners, T-Mobile finally starting pushing the update a couple of days ago, and Sprint and Verizon have been out for a while now. US Cellular, who also pulled the update when AT&T did, have not yet resumed the rollout but it can only be a matter of time if AT&T's update has now been fixed.
In Canada, S4 owners on the Rogers, Telus, Bell, Fido and Wind Mobile networks have received the update. Despite numerous and varied problems on the S4 and S3 internationally, noticed first on British variants, the North American rollouts went ahead and caused many problems for many people. Latest reports seem to indicate that things are settling down as the newer updates appear and owners on some carriers seem relatively unscathed by the update issues. The S4 has had it lucky compared to the issues the S3 has faced though.
In the US some networks seemed to skip a lot of the problems the British S3's faced, but there were still a lot of problems. Verizon is the only major US carrier to still be holding back on the Galaxy S3 update to Android 4.3 (you may recall they were the first to release the S4 update and that's where this whole mess started - at least in the US). T-Mobile was the first to rollout the new OS version for the Galaxy S3, followed by Sprint and US Cellular. S3's on the AT&T network are receiving the update now while Verizon customers wait patiently.
In Canada, S3 owners on the Bell, Rogers, Telus, Fido and Virgin Mobile networks have reported the update has arrived, but Wind Mobile customers are still waiting. Admittedly the Android 4.3 update on the Galaxy S3 in North America has been less problematic than that initially released in the UK, who, incidentally, are still awaiting a fix. There have been a variety of issues from Wi-Fi problems, contacts issues, Bluetooth problems, screen freezes, app crashes and blackouts. As with the S4 update, not all S3 owners were affected, or were not as badly affected as some, but all in all, the S3 came out worse for wear compared to the S4 after the update.
Note 2 and S4 Mini
Note 2 owners are a little behind the smartphone flagships, but are finally starting to see the update. The update appeared on international variants of the Note 2 a week ago, but in the US, Sprint is the only carrier so far to have rolled out the update. A leaked update schedule document that has been relatively accurate thus far, indicates the update could appear on Verizon tomorrow, and AT&T, who delayed this rollout as well, should resume the update process in early December along with T-Mobile and US Cellular. In Canada, Note 2 owners on all the major networks – Bell, Rogers and Telus – are also receiving the Android 4.3 update, as are S4 mini owners.
Why the problems are especially damaging
Apart from the major public relations and customer service failings on behalf of Samsung and their carrier partners, this update fiasco has had other negative consequences as well, beyond pissing off current customers. The looming presence of Black Friday tomorrow is a major concern for Samsung, especially so when their flagship devices are going through a very public muck-raking as the nation prepares to going on a spending spree for the holiday season. It seems very likely that sales of Samsung devices will take a bit of a hit in the coming consumer madness thanks to the lack of a stable OS version. Samsung's inability to deal with the problem swiftly and professionally, preferring instead to ignore it and then provide non-committal statements that it is working on the problem, caused millions to flock to the internet to publicly bash Samsung's response. This doesn't make for good publicity on the eve of the nation's busiest shopping season.
What customers want
Despite some of the very vocal threats, accusations and admonishments of various Samsung customers on the internet, we asked in a recent survey what Samsung owners thought Samsung should do to rectify the problem, offering suggestions as far ranging as ''nothing'' to suspending handset repayments during the affected period or offering discounts off future Samsung product purchases. The results were much more balanced and level-headed than the suggestions floating around the internet, with 63% of responders simply wanting an official apology and a timeline for a fix. A surprising 51% (multiple choices were possible) just wanted a fix with nothing else needed. An optional OTA downgrade back to the previous OS version was sitting in the middle and almost no one was interested in anything to do with money.
Have you been one of the affected Samsung owners? What advice would you give Samsung for their next OS update release?