While most people purchase smartphones that are tied to a particular phone provider (because there’s usually a substantial savings in cost) some folks go for unlocked models for the freedom of switching carriers at will. A reader wonders how updates work with these models.

“I am thinking of buying a new Samsung S9 unlocked. I currently have an S7 from ATT. I believe I get my software upgrades from ATT. Who sends upgrades for an unlocked phone?”

The updates for your phone would come directly from the manufacturer. In this case, Samsung.

Phones tied to a particular carrier like Verizon and ATT must wait for updates from the carrier because the Android operating system is tweaked by each carrier to suit their purposes.  You’d think that not having to go through the carrier would mean that you got the updates a lot quicker. Unfortunately, with Samsung, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Despite a pledge from the company to speed up updates for unlocked phones, some people still complain that those updates are taking longer than they are for phones tied to carriers. But the updates are still provided.

But rest assured, your phone will get the needed updates from Samsung as long as the company is still providing updates for that particular model.