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Galaxy S3 Jelly Bean update details: Samsung engineers upgraded RAM for a reason

June 28, 2012

From the moment Google confirmed during the first Google I/O keynote that Jelly Bean is the codename for Android 4.1 rather than Android 5.0 – as various rumors suggested ahead of the event – we started wondering what Android devices will get the new Android version.

Since Jelly Bean can be perceived as an incremental upgrade, meant to improve the overall user experience while adding some interesting perks, it would be logical to assume that all Android smartphones and tablets that run Ice Cream Sandwich – or that will get it eventually – will also be able to run Jelly Bean. However, Google did not shed any light on that matter during the event, nor did its partners.

But should Android users that hold an ICS device – or one that’s going to get ICS soon – be worried that their current hardware will not be suitable for Jelly Bean? The Verge has a new report on the Galaxy S3 upgradeability status, and a potential explanation for that RAM increase to 2GB on certain devices. The publication notes:

We’re told that Samsung was intent on designing the phone to be “future-proof” — it didn’t want to be left flat-footed in the wake of a new Android version announcement spaced just days apart from the Galaxy S III’s US launches, presumably. The problem was that company’s engineers weren’t “100 percent sure” of Jelly Bean’s final hardware requirements, so they upped the internal RAM to 2GB to hedge their bets.

We don’t have official word from Samsung concerning the future Galaxy S3 Jelly Bean update, and we expect all Galaxy S3 versions out there, whether they have 1GB or 2GB of RAM to get the update in the future.

But I don’t know what’s more disturbing about this report, the fact that engineers decided to upgrade the RAM on only some Galaxy S3 models to make sure those models will get Jelly Bean, or the fact they were not sure what Jelly Bean’s hardware requirements are. For a flagship device like the Samsung Galaxy S3, launched around the same time Jelly Bean is announced, upgradeability to future Android versions should be a certainty. Imagine what would have happened in case the Galaxy S3 Jelly Bean would have been available only to certain versions, say the ones that have more RAM!

Of course, that doesn’t appear to be the case, especially since Google announced that Jelly Bean will be rolled out to three “old” devices in July, including the Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus and Motorola Xoom. Neither device comes with 2GB of RAM on board – in fact the Nexus S only has 512MB of RAM. That also means that, at least in theory, more high-end Android devices launched in late 2010 and in 2011 should be bumped up to Jelly Bean in the following months, especially if they have already received their ICS taste.