Five years after their initial release, most smartphones are no longer receiving regular security patches, let alone Android updates. That said, every once in a while we see some big exception where a phone company reaches out to deliver a very special update to a handset it otherwise was no longer supporting.
That’s the kind of situation we’re thinking of right now, as Samsung takes the unusual step of releasing software updates for older Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S7 models – reportedly … to fix the GPS problem?
In recent years, Samsung has earned a well-deserved reputation for reliable, regular updates and software support that lasts longer than many other OEMs. Instead of just three years of Android updates and four years of security patches, Samsung offers up to four years of Android updates and five years of patches.
Although the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge should no longer be receiving software updates, Samsung has released a 31MB firmware update (Version G93*FXXU8EVG3) for the phone (via SamMobile). This is the second unscheduled update since Samsung pulled support in spring 2020, the last one in November 2020. The patch does not touch the security level, but the change log indicates that GPS stability is being improved.
A GPS-related update with a similar label is also rolling out to Galaxy S8 owners, but as part of a larger 420MB download. Once again, this firmware update (Version G95*FXXUCDVG4) does not include a new security patch, leaving the phone at its previous April 1, 2021 level.
Information from Samsung’s firmware servers suggests that similar improvements are coming to the Galaxy S9, and possibly older devices, including the S6 and 2015 Galaxy J7. Most people have probably forgotten about (or have been doing business with) these phones for a long time, and to see Samsung updating so many models, not fixing some critical security flaw, feels pretty strange. We’ll keep an eye on any further developments in this saga, and hopefully find out a little more about what seems to be the world’s most important GPS fix.