Samsung is updating a bunch of very old phones for a seemingly curious reason

This firmware update for the Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, and S8 better be worth the developers’ trouble

Five years after their initial release, most smartphones are no longer receiving regular security patches, let alone Android updates. That said, every once in a while we see some big exception, where a phone company reaches out to deliver a presumably very special update to a handset it was otherwise no longer supporting. That’s the sort of situation we’re thinking about right now, as Samsung makes the unusual move to release software updates for old Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S7 models — reportedly to fix a… GPS issue?

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In recent years, Samsung has earned a well-deserved reputation for reliable, regular updates, and software support that extends longer than many other OEMs. Instead of a measly three years of Android updates and four years of security patches, Samsung offers up to four years of Android updates and five years of patches.

Although the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge aren’t supposed to receive software updates anymore, Samsung has released a 31MB firmware update (version G93*FXXU8EVG3) for the phones (via SamMobile). This is the second unscheduled update since Samsung pulled support in spring 2020, the last one being in November 2020. The patch doesn’t touch the security level, but the change log indicates that GPS stability is being improved.

A similarly labeled GPS-related update is also rolling out to Galaxy S8 owners, but as part of a larger 420MB download. Once again, this firmware update (version G95*FXXUCDVG4) doesn’t include a new security patch, leaving the phone at its previous April 1, 2021, level.

Information on Samsung’s firmware servers suggests similar fixes are also arriving for the Galaxy S9, and possibly even older devices, including the S6 and the 2015 Galaxy J7. Most people have likely forgotten about these phones (or long since traded up), and seeing Samsung update quite so many models like this, absent some critical security flaw being fixed, seems very odd. We’ll be keeping an eye out for any further developments in this saga, and hopefully gain a little more insight into what seems to be the world’s most important GPS fix.

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