What just happened? Anyone still using Samsung Galaxy phones between around 2014 and 2018 – of which there could be half a billion – should check for firmware updates. The updates offered by Samsung are minor but unusual, as the affected models are much older than older phones which usually receive security patches.
This month, Samsung started sending out minor updates to years-old Galaxy phones that generally no longer receive support, eventually reaching hundreds of millions of users. Affected models include Galaxy S5 Neo (Vodafone’s version), Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy S6 series, and Galaxy A7.
Galaxy S5 owners should find firmware version G903FXXU2BFG3 in the settings app. Galaxy S6 phones get firmware version G92xFXXU6EVG1, Galaxy Alpha gets firmware version G850FXXU2CVH9, and A7 gets A750FXXU5CVG1.
Samsung didn’t provide specific details on what the updates are or why it sent them, but they appear to fix a GPS issue. The update for the A7 includes a security fix. Official updates for aging hardware usually fix serious security issues that could affect many users, but Samsung hasn’t said the same. Also, the official list of phones that still receive security updates does not go back to the A7, S5 or S6.
Last year, Samsung promised new Galaxy phones would receive security updates for at least four years. The oldest models the company officially supports include all Galaxy S10, Note 10, and A10 models from 2019.
For comparison, Apple recently released a critical iOS security update for iPhone models dating back to the 6s launched in 2015. Manufacturers should maintain security updates for as many of their devices as possible because the most customers don’t always upgrade to the latest models.
Owners of recent Galaxy phones should look forward to Android 13, which is coming to various Android models later this year. It’s not yet known which Samsung models will be supported by the new OS, but it comes pre-installed on Google’s newer Pixel phones. Apple is also readying the next iteration of iOS for release this year, which supports all iPhone models since iPhone 8 2017.