Samsung confirms no KitKat for Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G

Samsung confirms no KitKat for Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G

Summary: Samsung confirms Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G owners will be stuck on Android 4.3 forever.

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Nearly six months after Google released KitKat, Samsung has confirmed the relatively young Galaxy S3, and the even newer S3 mini 3G, won't receive further OS updates.

Samsung has avoided disappointing owners of the two devices for as long as possible, with the company's confirmation only coming after internal documents — leaked to Samsung specialist site Sammobile last week — revealed that the company was having troubles getting KitKat running on the Galaxy S3 international model (GT-I9300).

Samsung has now officially confirmed the exact problem holding back the upgrade: the 1GB of RAM in the two devices isn't enough to support an update to KitKat.

"As a result of the Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G versions' hardware limitations, they cannot effectively support the platform upgrade while continuing to provide the best consumer experience, so Samsung has decided not to roll-out the KitKat upgrade to Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G versions," Samsung said in a statement to ZDNet.

The news will be disappointing to owners of the Galaxy S3. Launched in May 2012, the device was 18 months old at the time Google released KitKat. It's even more disappointing to S3 mini owners, who bought the device after October 2012.

The lack of an update jars with Google's policy for its own Nexus branded devices — where it generally delivers OS updates for devices that are younger than 18 months, but not for older hardware. In the past, the policy has meant that the Galaxy Nexus 10 did not receive KitKat. 

HTC One X and One X+ owners will be all too familiar with the letdown. HTC announced last year that the two devices — two years and one year old respectively at the time KitKat was released — wouldn't get the update. HTC never gave a reason for its decision, but like the two Samsung devices, both HTC phones have just 1GB of RAM.

Samsung's reasoning for not delivering the update might surprise owners who remember Google announcing that KitKat could run "comfortably" on devices with 512MB RAM. While that may be the case for Nexus devices, the customised layer that OEMs like to slap on top of Android, such as HTC's Sense UI and Samsung's TouchWiz, carry an overhead that may require more space than pure Android.

Not all Galaxy S3 owners have missed out though. US carrier Sprint confirmed in March that owners of the US version of the Galaxy S3 will get KitKat, along with Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S4 Mini, Galaxy Mega and Galaxy Tab 7.0. However, as Sammobile notes, the US Galaxy S3 came with 2GB RAM. For the same reason, the Galaxy S3 LTE version will also get the upgrade.

Read more on KitKat

Topics: Samsung, Android, Smartphones

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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11 comments
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  • No real loss.

    I don't see any increase in productivity when I upgrade my phones. Aside from the security updates no big reason to upgrade.
    ye
  • 1GB RAM BS excuse

    Kitkat is supposed to be LIGHTER on RAM than Jellybean so the RAM excuse is BS.
    Nexus 7 only has 1gb RAM and it has KitKAT, and NO the UI isn't the reason either.
    We already have KitKat running on S3 phones with full touchwiz so what's with the BS excuses.
    The one thing that is a HUGE negative for Kitkat is the way it CRIPPLES the ability of apps to WRITE to external SD. It is seriously BAD that anyone who uses SD Cards a fair bit would be better off without Kitkat.
    So I don't understand what all the fuss with needing to upgrade to Kitkat.
    warboat
    • I am not an Android tech, but

      it is possible that more RAM is required to PERFORM the update than to RUN either Jelly Bean or KitKat once installed. A number of PC applications need much more disk space, and possibly more RAM, to install them than to run them, and this COULD be the case here.
      jallan32
  • Really disappointing, considering that....

    ......Kitkat is capable of scaling itself back to run well on older devices. The S3 isn't very old. That being said, I'd rather they make the decision NOT to offer an update for older devices, than do what Apple did and release iOS7, all-but-crippling anything below an iPhone 4S.
    Ekwensu214
    • Crippling anything below a 4S?

      My friend has has an iPhone 4 and has had no issues with iOS 7. Would you care to provide some information about what you thing iOS does to older iPhones?
      gribittmep
    • ??? Running iOS7 on iPhone 4

      With no problems here.
      Too-Tired Techie
  • Between flimsy excuses ("BS") and...

    other issues, obviously Samsung cares not a whit to court any techie customers, but seems to prefer targeting those who respond to superficial prettiness.... Personally, was never a fan for the Korean's anyway, but this serves to firm it up a lot more.
    Willnott
  • It will run and run well

    I've been running a custom rom version of KitKat on my Galaxy Note 1(I717) which only has 1GB of ram.

    Then again, it's not supposed to support the 64gb SD card either and I'm chugging along fine with that as well.

    It's not that it cant. What Samsung is saying is it won't run well with our bloatware and kitkat with 1gb.
    REDPINXC
  • Good Thing It's Free

    and Open Source!

    Got to love those Linux excuses!
    Mujibahr
  • Do not like that? Blame yourself!

    Delegated the choice of the OS to somewhere else? Did not want Linux? Reap what you sow.
    gak@...
  • S3 Got KitKat

    I have an S3 and just got KitKat update the other day. With Sprint Galaxy SIII is running 4.4.2 and I have had no problems if actually improvement with battery life. I am happy with it
    jameshume