Sideloading One UI builds might become much easier
Samsung’s software updates have been much better over the last few years, with both its speed and longevity rapidly improving. As great as that is, there’s still one part of the company’s update process that remains incredibly frustrating: region fragmentation. Right now, a Galaxy S21 sold in the UK has a different software version from an S21 sold elsewhere in Europe, even though the hardware is the same. Thankfully, Samsung could be looking to change that.
If you’ve ever noticed that our monthly Samsung update roundups often say things like, “so far, this patch has only been spotted in X country,” there’s an easy explanation. Each phone carries a specific “CSC” code that identifies its region. Updates start in specific locations, presumably to avoid damage caused by buggy releases. If you can catch problems before a software patch reaches every region, you mitigate the possible damage caused. That sounds good on the surface, but this software development method presents its own share of problems.
As things are now, moving to another country that uses a different CSC from where you bought your phone causes your update schedule to fall off-schedule. It’s not a deal-breaker, but with some regions occasionally waiting weeks for a security patch other countries already have, it’s not the best user experience. On the development side, testing and deploying multiple versions of the same software is an unnecessary resource drain for Samsung.
According to Galaxy Club, this problem could finally be changing. The 4G variant of the Galaxy A52 had far fewer CSC variants than other phones, a trend that continued with the Galaxy Z Fold3 and Flip3. All the European models seem to share the same CSC, regardless of their origin. Galaxy Club notes that the branded phones in the Netherlands still have different CSCs, but after doing some digging, I can see that the carrier-branded devices in the UK share the same firmware build as unlocked models, so this could vary based on carrier and country.
In addition to those few models from 2021, it seems that Samsung’s 2022 lineup — including the Galaxy A13, A33, A53, and S22 series — will all follow suit. Galaxy Club says these devices are being developed without local CSCs, and with any luck, the company won’t limit this change to just those models.
So, what’s the upside for users? The most significant benefit comes from reducing the resources Samsung spends on preparing these updates. Instead of developing one build per country, it’ll only need to work on one build per region. The time saved with this process will allow Samsung to get these updates ready and out the door quicker than ever before. We’ve already seen what this world could look like: Galaxy S21 received Android 12 in record time, and a change in strategy like this could make Android 13 reach users even faster.
If this does happen, it doesn’t mean that every Galaxy S22 will get simultaneous updates from now on. Hardware differences between phones sold in the US and international regions require separate software variants. Samsung could still decide to divide devices based on location, retaining the ability to triage buggy releases if needed. It remains to be seen what the company will ultimately do here, but hopefully, whatever direction it takes will lead to faster updates for everyone.