Own a Galaxy S4 (GS4) or even a Galaxy S3 (GS3)? Samsung’s leaked memo in December 2013 suggested that the company would start rolling out Android 4.4 KitKat updates to these devices as well as the Galaxy Note 3 as early as January (three months ago), but there are a large number of Galaxy owners who have yet to see the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update. Samsung said that many of its older device owners would skip the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update and receive the Android 4.4 KitKat update instead, which would provide a more significant update than a small update that would only bring bug fixes and a new feature or two.

Google released Android 4.3 Jelly Bean on July 24, 2013, the same day in which the search engine giant announced the 2013 Nexus 7. In the announcement, then-Google spokesman Hugo Barra announced the release of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean for devices “later in the day,” and this included the 2012 Nexus 7 tablet as well as the Nexus 4 (2012) smartphone. The 2013 Nexus 7 came preloaded with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.

Galaxy S3 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean Update

While Google is responsible for the release of a new Android update as soon as the company announces it, it is always up to device manufacturers and carriers worldwide to see to it that their users receive the update in a timely manner. Samsung, the manufacturer of the Galaxy smartphone and tablet lines, decided to release the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update for both Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 models in October/November of last year, but it seems that the update didn’t make its way to American carriers until November. Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and US Cellular have all provided the Galaxy S3 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean updates for their Galaxy S3 users, with Sprint (November 22nd), AT&T (November 14th) and T-Mobile Galaxy S3 3G customers (November 19th) all getting the Android 4.3 update in November – one month before Verizon Galaxy S3 users saw the release of 4.3 Jelly Bean to their devices (December 18, 2013). US Cellular, America’s fifth-largest wireless carrier, saw the release of its Galaxy S3 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update on November 22nd, the same day as Sprint customers but behind both AT&T and T-Mobile customers.

For international Galaxy S3 users, Android 4.3 Jelly Bean started making its way across Europe on November 4th, the same time as it was released in the US, but only arrived to Vodafone Ireland Galaxy S3 customers. Two weeks later, Samsung confirmed that the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update was on hold temporarily, with American carrier AT&T having pulled the update due to Wi-Fi, random freezing, huge battery drain, wake up lag, stuttering music playback, call reception freezing, Bluetooth audio, and other issues. By this time, other UK Galaxy S3 customers had received the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update and were reporting the same issues that Samsung Mobile UK announced in a company statement.

Samsung resumed its international Galaxy S3 Android 4.3 update on December 5th for its GT-19300 model, the Galaxy S3 HSPA+ (non-LTE) version. The GT-19305 or the international Galaxy S3 LTE Android 4.3 update was released on December 12th, with Germany being the first international country to receive the new software release. Optus’s 3G Galaxy S3, Orange (Switzerland), H3G (UK), and TPH (Portugal) received their Galaxy S3 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean updates recently, but that’s as much as we know about international Galaxy S3 4.3 Jelly Bean updates. The Optus 4G Galaxy S3 model has yet to receive 4.3 Jelly Bean.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean

Samsung announced its Galaxy S4 model last spring, and the device came with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean pre-installed. On August 2, 2013, Google released Android 4.3 Jelly Bean for its Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play Edition (GPE) devices. GPE devices are still under the control of manufacturers but are treated as a middle star between the cherished Nexus devices and the carrier-branded devices. The 4.3 update hit GPE devices about eight days from the release of Android 4.3 for Nexus devices – so GPE device owners should be proud. Google promised to make good on fast GPE updates, and the company (and manufacturers) have done that and continue to do so.

Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Android-4.3-Release

Tech site SamMobile went on record at Twitter in mid-October 2013, claiming that the Galaxy S4 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update “is close. 1/2 weeks,” the site said. The final build number, 19505XXUEMJ3, was released for those who enjoy the rooting experience, although most tech sites warn against the idea for many reasons. On October 17th, Samsung released the Galaxy S4 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update for LTE devices with model number GT-19505, as the company promised at its Unpacked Episode 2 Event last spring. American carrier Verizon received the Galaxy S4 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update on October 28, 2013, with American carriers Sprint (Oct. 30th), US Cellular (Nov. 8th), AT&T (Nov. 14th), and T-Mobile (Nov. 26th) receiving updates just days and weeks after Big Red.

International Galaxy S4 users have mixed results regarding the Galaxy S4 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update. While Optus has released the update for its Galaxy S4 4G model, and Telstra had to halt its Galaxy S4 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update last month due to GPS issues. There has been no announcement from Australian carrier Telstra as to when the update will resume for Galaxy S4 customers.

What about the Galaxy S4 Active, Galaxy S4 Zoom, and Galaxy S4 Mini?

Samsung is famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) for releasing variants of its popular Galaxy S phone each year, and last year’s GS4 was followed by three others: GS4 Mini, GS4 Active, and GS4 Zoom. I own the GS4 Active, and I can tell you that the GS4 Active has yet to be updated by Samsung. AT&T just received its GS4 Active Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update in January (three months ago), and the unlocked GS4 Active model (UK, perhaps) has yet to receive the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update. Some months ago, the GS4 Active received bug fixes, but the OS still remains on the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean update. The Galaxy S4 Active is an AT&T exclusive in the United States, and the unlocked GS4 Active model is an international one. With that said, if you purchased an international GS4 Active model, you’ll have to wait until at least the end of April (if not longer) for your Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update.

Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Mini-Android-4.3-Release

We’ve no word right now on when the international GS4 Active model (GT-19295) will receive an update, but it shouldn’t be too far behind – seeing that AT&T is the only carrier in the US to receive the model (and Europe is just an ocean away).

Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Zoom-Android-4.3-Release

Samsung confirmed that the Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S3, and Galaxy S4 would all receive Android 4.4 KitKat this month, but there seems to be some confusion about it all. Why would Samsung release Android 4.3 Jelly Bean for any of its GS4 smartphones when the company could simply release Android 4.4 KitKat for them all, simultaneously?

What New Features Await You in Android 4.3 Jelly Bean?

Android 4.3 Jelly Bean is a small, incremental upgrade from Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, so there isn’t much to tell as far as new features. There are some interesting additions to your OS software, however, that Samsung has baked into the Galaxy Android 4.3 Jelly Bean experience. Here is the official Galaxy S3 Android 4.3 download statement from Samsung when you arrive at the update install page:

Update Package Downloaded successfully

Update Details:

  • OS upgrade (Android 4.3)
  • Added New Feature
  • Compatibility with Galaxy Gear
  • Improved Performance (Graphics, Multimedia, Bluetooth, etc.)
  • Improved the user interface and stability
  • User interface adjustment (icon change, etc.)
  • Security enhancements”

Update detail #1 is an obvious one: you’ll upgrade to a new OS version. The “added new feature” on this list likely refers to Samsung KNOX or possibly Google Play Newsstand.” Both are included in the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update. As for another possibility, the new feature could refer to Samsung’s new “My Galaxy” app that was provided via a small bug fix update in the international GS4 Active model. It doesn’t exist on my Galaxy Note 3, but this is due to the fact that the My Galaxy app was created after the Galaxy Note 3 was announced and released.

One of the biggest improvements with the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update for the GS3 and GS4 devices pertains to Galaxy Gear compatibility. When Samsung announced the Galaxy Gear last September, the device only had Galaxy Note 3 compatibility. Now with the 4.3 update, your GS3 or GS4 can be paired with either the first-generation Galaxy Gear, the Gear 2, or even the Gear 2 Neo smartwatch or Gear Fit fitness band. As for the user interface adjustments, you’ll notice that the four tabs of settings found in the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean experience have given way to one page in Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (at least this is the experience on the Galaxy Note 3). If you end up with multiple settings tabs in Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, you’ll find that the experience has been simplified from before.

One other user interface improvement concerns your device settings. Settings such as NFC, S Beam, Screen Mirroring, Blocking Mode, Driving Mode, and Power Saving Mode are now placed in your notification window toggles so that, with a swipe from the top of the screen down, you can access these settings in a few seconds or less.

Galaxy S4 users may not notice much difference between Android 4.3 and 4.2.2, but Galaxy S3 users stand to gain the most from the update. One feature that will impress Galaxy S3 users consists of the addition of a “light effect” to their lock screen (in addition to the ripple effect) and Samsung now allows you to choose either effect for your lock screen or none at all. Galaxy S3 users can also personalize their lock screen with their name as well as a personalized message, and add multiple widgets to the lock screen should they desire to do so.

Have you received your Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update yet, Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 users? If so, what do you like or dislike about the new look? Have you not yet received your Android 4.3 update and want to write in to us and report it? If so, please feel free to give feedback in the comments below. If you are writing in about not having yet received your Android 4.3 update, please tell us what carrier you’re with and which device (GS3 or GS4) you have.