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Samsung Issues Critical Update for Galaxy Users

TLDR: Samsung’s June software update for Galaxy devices addresses critical vulnerabilities but misses some Qualcomm fixes. Support longevity varies across models, with some facing the end of support. Streamlined updates and prompt patches are crucial as Android 15 and iOS 18 loom, especially with the risk of malware-laced apps. Samsung’s piecemeal approach may need to change.

Samsung has released details of June’s software update for its flagship devices, addressing Android and Galaxy vulnerabilities, including one critical fix that should be installed promptly. However, several patches are notably absent.

Missing Patches

While Samsung’s bulletin excludes three patches from Google’s own update, the real concern for users is that Android’s June update includes three critical Qualcomm fixes not yet listed in Samsung’s release. This may change, but it could also mean a delay in delivering these fixes to Samsung devices, as seen in recent months.

Deployment Delays

Qualcomm delivers patches directly to OEMs, strongly recommending their immediate deployment on released devices. However, Samsung warns that some patches from chipset vendors may not be included in the current month’s security update package, and will be included in upcoming packages as soon as they are ready.

Patchwork Quilt Schedule

Delays are a common issue with Samsung’s monthly releases, primarily due to the patchwork quilt schedule that sees different devices, regions, and carriers updated separately.

Support Longevity

Samsung triumphs over Apple in terms of support longevity, with recent headlines highlighting that Apple will support the latest iPhones for at least five years, less than the seven years guaranteed by Samsung and Google. However, it’s important to note that iPhones often receive security updates long beyond the five-year mark, and there’s no reason to assume this will change.

End of Support for Some Models

While the longevity of software support and security updates has made headlines, Samsung has recently ended support for three models sold with a significantly shorter support term: Galaxy A 51 5G, Galaxy A41, and Galaxy M01. These devices, released in 2000, were assured of four-year support, which has now expired. However, exceptions may be made for critical vulnerabilities.

Confusing Update for Galaxy A51 5G

Despite Samsung’s end of support confirmation, the company is now rolling out a new software update for the Galaxy A51 5G, bringing the May 2024 security patch. This confusing picture makes it difficult for users to make informed decisions on upgrades to new models.

Risks of Unsupported Devices

Recent reports have highlighted the dangers of malware-laced apps found on Google’s Play Store. While such apps are removed once discovered, the risk for users is the sheer number of installs beforehand. A device without the latest defenses is especially vulnerable.

Economic Challenges and Difficult Choices

While it’s important to be sensitive to the economic challenges inherent in upgrading relatively new smartphones, it’s difficult to advocate for anything other than a supported device. Given that Samsung runs a schedule whereby many of its cheaper and older phones drop down to quarterly updates only, this points to the upper end of the range price-wise, presenting difficult choices for users.

Need for Streamlined Updates

In a world where Apple and Google can update all users in the same run, it would be beneficial for Samsung to start doing the same. Some lower-level, cheaper Galaxy devices are still receiving their May updates, which is not a good look when it comes to security.

June’s Release and Missing Qualcomm Patches

While nothing stands out in June’s release, except for the critical, currently missing Qualcomm patches, Google warns that several of its own high-severity vulnerabilities could lead to local escalation of privilege with no additional execution privileges needed. This means an attacker would need physical access to your phone, as opposed to something that can be executed remotely.

Android 15 and Samsung’s Update Approach

With Android 15 currently in beta, heavily focused on security and privacy enhancements and set to go head-to-head with iOS 18 in the fall, Samsung’s stilted update approach will continue to stand out, especially as its Galaxy AI battles Apple’s new iPhone AI at the premium end of the market. As mentioned last month, the optics for Samsung when Apple can update all iPhones twice within a fortnight make it seem that the bit-by-bit schedule may have had its time.


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