Android security samsung phone update tracker

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Major updates of Android don’t matter as much as they used to. Many operating system components are updated through the Play Store, so even if you’re on Android 8 or 9, you can still access most of the same apps and features as someone on the latest release of Android 10.

However, the security updates that Google releases monthly are still critical to keeping your phone or tablet safe. Dozens of security flaws are discovered in Android components each month, which is why Google releases monthly security patches.

However, unlike app and API updates, the security patches can not be delivered directly to devices — phone manufacturers have to integrate the changes into their flavors of Android and release them as system updates.

It’s common knowledge that some companies are better than others when it comes to patching their phones, but making direct comparisons is somewhat difficult. In addition, it’s hard to track down information about when exactly updates are released, so news coverage often relies on device owners seeing the update themselves. Carriers and slow rollouts only make matters more complicated.

The good news is that we’ve done all the hard work for you. That is our ultimate security update tracker, where we are giving each recent flagship phone a simple score from 1-10, based on how long it takes for security updates to get from Google to device owners.

How we score devices

If you’re interested in how we gather this data and assess it, we explain our methodology more on the second page. Here’s the short version:
First, we compiled a list of dates for security patches for each major 2019 Android flagship, starting from January 2019 or when the phone was released in the United States (whichever was earliest).

The date for each security update is the first evidence we could find of a public rollout, either from an official announcement from the device maker, news coverage of the update, or confirmed reports from social media (whichever was earliest).

Each device’s score is calculated using a weighted average of the number of days between a security update’s availability and the device’s OTA being released. The resulting “score” being normalized into a number out of 10, and then a standard penalty being assessed for any given monthly update that is missed subtracting from that score.

Google Pixel 3/4: 10.0

It should not come as a surprise that Google’s flagships get perfect scores. Ever since the days of Nexus phones, Google has released security updates for its devices simultaneously as the official security bulletins, effectively giving Pixel phones day-one updates.

Pixel phones are the only devices we have tracked that did not miss a single month. Then, of course, a few instances where a security bulletin comes out a day or two before the Pixels get their updates, and vice-versa, but on average, the delay is still zero days.

If reliable and frequent security updates are your main concern when buying a phone, no other Android device comes close to matching the record of Pixel devices. Well, except for the Essential Phone, but those days are over.

Samsung Galaxy S20: 10.0

Matching Google for first place is Samsung’s current flagship phone, the Galaxy S20 Granted. The phone has only been available to purchase for a few months, but Samsung has been extremely quick to update the phone so far.

The Galaxy S20 has not missed a single month of updates so far. Samsung has also released security patches on the same day as Pixels, or only a day or two afterward.

Only time will tell if Samsung can keep up its rapid release schedule, but if last year’s Galaxy S10 is any indication, you probably will not ever have to worry about security with the S20.

Samsung Galaxy S10: 8.0

While Samsung has done a well enough job of keeping its flagship smartphones up to date with the latest security patches — the Galaxy S7 is still receiving quarterly fixes — the company improved its schedule slightly with the Galaxy S10.

Not only has the S10 received security updates on time, but it was also among the first phones to receive an update to Android 10. Not bad at all.

The Galaxy S10 has only missed two security updates since its release in early 2019: the patches for June and July 2019 were included in an August update. However, the S10’s typical delay from when Google’s security bulletins were published is the main reason it falls behind other devices.


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