For years now, Android has supported the useful ability to install system updates in the background, only requiring a quick reboot to apply the changes. With monthly updates becoming the norm, it’s a great quality-of-life improvement. Samsung has been holding off on the feature for years, though, and that’s not changing as the Galaxy S21 series still lacks support for seamless updates.
Seamless updates uses A/B partitions to install an update in the background while you’re still using your phone. This comes with quite a few benefits, such as lesser risk for corrupt data during an update, but also the simple fact that your phone isn’t out of commission for the better part of 20 minutes.
It was widely assumed that Google would be requiring support for this update method with Android 11 as some leaked documents seemingly proved, but apparently Google walked back on that decision in the time since.
That is to say, Samsung’s Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra are still lacking support for the five-year-old seamless updates feature. Samsung enemy Max Weinbach noted on Twitter that he couldn’t find any mention of A/B updates in a system image from a Galaxy S21 device. Looking at two apps, Treble Info and Treble Check, the story is the same there, seamless updates are marked as lacking support. Those results should be taken with a grain of salt, though, as the app is also reporting that Treble isn’t supported, something that hasn’t been true of any mainstream Android device for years per Google’s requirements. Likely, these apps are just misreporting on these devices or it could be something up with Samsung’s current software build. In any case, there’s little chance that these phones don’t support Treble.
Why isn’t Samsung supporting the feature? The company hasn’t mentioned anything officially, though we did reach out for a statement, but in the past, the rationale has been around storage. A/B updates do come at the expense of some of the onboard storage, approximately 3GB or so. In a year where the microSD card slot has been stripped, I suppose that’s not the worst excuse.