Recently, Samsung has been on the ball when it comes to release new OS and security updates for its newer and older Galaxy devices. While that may be the case, there is one downside to updating a Samsung Galaxy phone: no seamless updates. What does this mean and why does the OEM not use this method? Let’s take a closer look at that.
What are seamless updates?
For most modern Android devices – with the exception of Samsung Galaxy devices – seamless A/B updates mean one simple thing: uninterrupted use during a software update.
For example, when a Pixel phone starts the update process, it starts downloading the required files first. This may take some time depending on the size of the update. Once downloaded, the device will start installing the update in the background while you are still actively using the phone and do not interrupt what you are doing.
Now the seamless update is starting to come into play. In the past, the installation portion of the update would take place while the phone is turned off. Of course, it usually also takes quite a bit of time. The problem with this method is that your device is turned off, meaning it’s equally unusable, except it’s an overpriced paperweight.
Seamless updates, on the other hand, allow you to continue using the phone while the installation process takes place. This is done by using two identical partitions in the phone, one (A) being used by the user and the other (B) being used by Android’s update management tool. Once the phone reboots, those updates will be moved to its partition within seconds. This also acts as a safety feature where if something goes wrong, your phone can quickly recognize it and revert to a previous update.
All in all, that’s one reboot that takes much less time than a full install. Essentially, you get a few seconds or a few minutes of unusable time with your device instead of tens of minutes as the device completes its final setup.
Why is Samsung not taking advantage of seamless updates?
That medal has a flip side. While you get less downtime from your phone, the total time it takes for an update to complete can take 20 to 30 minutes, and in some cases, even longer. Not to mention that you will encounter an “optimization” period after startup, which can last a few minutes.
In comparison, a Galaxy phone takes about 5 to 15 minutes to complete an update. Yes, that’s 5 minutes of downtime, but it’s definitely 15 minutes more with a device at full speed and with a shiny new update. In addition, the early stages of seamless updates meant that more storage space was needed than necessary. Google has since fixed this problem and at some point scheduled on Force Samsung to implement seamless updates†
This may be one of the reasons why the major manufacturer has not opted for seamless A/B updates. The method has been around for a number of years, and while many of the kinks have been worked out, Samsung still chose not to add seamless updates with the S22 line of devices. In fact, it was quite a surprise when the S21 line didn’t use the method and even more so when the Galaxy S22, S22+ and S22 Ultra come on the market without.
We don’t know if Samsung will ever include seamless A/B updates or if the company will keep using the same methods that have been working for a while. We can cross our fingers and hope that will be the case with next year’s lineup, but the truth could be that the company is waiting for the age-old “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”- mentality.
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