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

Samsung confirms Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G owners will be stuck on Android 4.3 forever.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

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.

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