Samsung's Android 10 update is rolling out to the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 9 this week, but the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 are ineligible for Google's latest OS version.
Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 do not qualify for Android 10
The point bears some discussion because some Samsung representatives are giving false hopes to Samsung Galaxy phone users. Both phones, at three years old, lie outside of Samsung's update window. The Korean Android OEM's update schedule allows its smartphones new Android system updates for two years, security patches for three years.
These phones were announced in 2017. At this point, the two-year Android system update obligation for these handsets is beyond finished. Security patches are likely to stop this year because they're at the end of the 3-year obligation.
Samsung's update schedule hasn't changed. At least Samsung hasn't alerted users of an update change, though extending the lives of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 for users still clinging to these handsets is a welcome break with tradition. No one would be upset to discover a new update schedule that allows Android 10 for these veteran handsets.
Samsung could break with update tradition
Despite the gloom and doom truth about the Galaxy S8 and Note 8, there's a bit of good news: Samsung can break with update tradition. It doesn't have to deny Android 10 to these handsets unless it simply wants to.
This has been the case with Google, who brought Android 10 to the OG first-generation Pixel and Pixel XL at the end of 2019. The first-gen. Pixel and Pixel XL launched in 2016 with Android 7.0 Nougat.
These phones received Nougat (Android 7), Oreo (Android 8), Pie (Android 9), and "Q" (Android 10), four Android system updates. Google shows with its phone series that it can break with the typical expectation of "2 years of system updates, 3 years of security patches" when it wants to. The same is true of Samsung. Samsung does not have to lay the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 to rest just yet.
A good example of this is Samsung's Android 9.0 Pie update roadmap in January 2019. The company gave an initial update release map but pushed some updates out sooner than expected. In some cases, updates were released a month in advance (February instead of March, for example). Samsung added 7 handsets to the release schedule that were omitted from the initial release map and removed two handsets listed in the initial update map.
This shows that Samsung has sovereignty over whether it releases a new system update to a phone or not. Samsung can release an update for an ineligible phone, or retract an update for an eligible phone. In the end, it's all up to Samsung.
Samsung smartwatch update shows sovereignty over Galaxy S8 Galaxy Note 8 Android 10 update
While Samsung has added and removed phones from initial update roadmaps, the company also gives random updates to extremely old smartwatches. Recently, Samsung released a battery update for the 5-year-old Gear S2, a smartwatch released back in 2015.
Samsung has no obligation to the Gear S2 because it's an old smartwatch. Yet and still, the company released the update because it wanted to. Perhaps the Gear S2 is one of Samsung's most beloved smartwatches and still has a large user base.
Whatever the reason, Samsung released an update out of the blue for a smartwatch that has been supplanted by better smartwatches since. Sure, the Gear S2 is beloved as Samsung's first circular smartwatch, but the update is unusual indeed. What it shows, though, is that Samsung can release new updates for old devices when it chooses to.
It's unlikely a 5-year-old Galaxy phone will ever receive a software update from Samsung, but that doesn't mean Samsung couldn't break ranks.
There is hope for the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8
So with that said, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, and Galaxy Note 8 users should not despair. As long as Samsung has sovereignty over its devices, and Android 10 is still on the release, there is hope. And yet, the hope may be slim. The reality is that Samsung has no obligation to S8 and Note 8 users that mandates another system update.
Samsung, nor any other OEM, releases an update for an ineligible phone(s) because users want them to. Users can still contact Samsung and express a desire to see their handset updated. It can't hurt for users to let Samsung know how they feel about their handset becoming obsolete.
Hope, even slim hope, is still hope. With Samsung, anything's possible.