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Samsung begins US rollout of Android 9 Pie and One UI, but slowly

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Right under the wire

Samsung has just begun rolling out a promised update for the Galaxy S9 and S9+ that brings them up to the latest version of Android 9 Pie, and switches everything over to Samsung’s new interface, One UI. It began earlier this week “just for Xfinity Mobile customers,” as Android Police noted, which made for very a limited rollout indeed for the US, though the update has been coming to international customers for over a month.

US customers on other networks (or who have unlocked devices) will need to wait a bit longer. Samsung tells us that “the update for Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+ and Galaxy Note9 will continue to roll out to other carrier providers in the coming days and weeks.” The Android OTA updates have begun to hit Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T customers, but S9 owners aren’t all seeing the updates at once.

Earlier this January, Samsung posted a “Service Notice” in its Samsung Members app detailing its planned roadmap for releasing the software update, as SamMobile reported. Looking at the listed dates, the rollout for Galaxy phones is really coming in just under the wire. As of January 2nd, here’s what Samsung has told customers about updates for its most popular phones:

  • Galaxy Note 9 (January 2019)
  • Galaxy S9 and S9+ (January 2019)
  • Galaxy Note 8 (February 2019)
  • Galaxy S8 and S8+ (March 2019)

Although Samsung Galaxy phones have consistently had some of the best hardware (and definitely the best screens) you could get on an Android phone, they have always had a reputation of lagging behind on getting the latest updates. Fair or not, that’s unlikely to change this year.

However, the differences between particular Android versions have increasingly mattered less to consumers as the OS has matured. More important are the customizations each manufacturer brings to their lineups. Even Google’s Pixel phones aren’t really “Pure Android” — they’re Google’s take on Android.

If you have a Samsung Galaxy phone and live in the US, sometime in the “coming days and weeks” you should be getting an update that shows you Samsung’s latest take on Android. The new One UI is specifically designed to make it easier to navigate content on a massive screen by making headers much larger and moving the buttons you actually need to press lower down on the screen.

We’re also less than a month away from Samsung’s “Unpacked” event, which is on February 20th in San Francisco. There, we expect Samsung to discuss as many as five different phones: the Galaxy S10, S10+, a so-called “lite” version of the S10, its folding phone, and potentially even a 5G phone.

Though it’s good that Samsung has begun its Android Pie rollout, the schedule is (as always) slower than customers want. And as always with Android, the surest way to get the latest software tends to be buying the latest phones. Presumably everything Samsung announces next month will come with Android 9 Pie and Samsung’s One UI.

Update January 31st, 2019 10:20AM ET: Updated to reflect that Android OTA updates are now hitting Sprint and Verizon users.

Update January 31st, 2019 6:06PM ET: AT&T users are starting to see the update as well.