This may sound like a huge bummer for you guys still running the Samsung Galaxy S3 and voicing out your frustration will probably not change things. – Internal testing suggested that the latter could not handle a fully featured Samsung KitKat firmware due to software issues and hardware limitations.
The now 22-month old device originally came preloaded with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and enjoyed all three major Jelly Bean (4.1-4.3) versions over the course of its support life cycle, that equals to more firmware updates than any other flagship device including Nexus series. Despite its age, Galaxy S3 wasn’t however quite ineligible to the chocolate favoured Android version and Samsung had even decided to offer it the KitKat treatment.
Their development team had actually progressed far enough to compile a booting internal build of Android 4.4.2 (KOT49H), not to mention that a fully functional kernel along with corresponding Modem/Radio, Exynos and Mali sources/blobs were also readied for the upgrade until “unresolved problems” were uncovered. This essentially brought down the whole firmware development to a halt (cancelled for now), ultimately sealing the Galaxy S3’s fate for good as stated by the report below.
So where did it go wrong? At first glance the Galaxy S3 appeared to be able to run vanilla KitKat but internal documents indicate that the ultimate reason lies in the integration of the whole Samsung framework stack which includes the TouchWiz launcher and Samsung proprietary apps. RAM issues played their part as well since official Samsung statement (from SamMobile) outlines this limitation.
In order to facilitate an effective upgrade on the Google platform, various hardware performances such as the memory (RAM, ROM, etc.), multi-tasking capabilities, and display must meet certain technical expectations. The Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G versions come equipped with 1GB RAM, which does not allow them to effectively support the platform upgrade. As a result of the Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G versions’ hardware limitation, they cannot effectively support the platform upgrade while continuing to provide the best consumer experience. Samsung has decided not to roll-out the KitKat upgrade to Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G versions, and the KitKat upgrade will be available to the Galaxy S3 LTE version as the device’s 2GB RAM is enough to support the platform upgrade.
As mentioned above the Galaxy S3 Mini also falls into the same basket but the reason behind this is obvious since its SoC maker ST-Ericsson was dissolved last year, implying that Samsung couldn’t effectively get its hand on any updated kernel sources let alone the NovaThor development kit (SDK).
With those reasons outlined it’s still nevertheless great to see Samsung offering the KitKat bits to the U.S Sprint variant of the Galaxy S3 which uses the Qualcomm silicon along with the international LTE Exynos variant (GT-I9305) which both sport twice the amount of RAM compared to the regular version.