TLDR; If you care about Android OS updates don’t get the Samsung S3, especially on Sprint. You will get Jelly Bean in a few months, but you can forget about whatever the next version is going be. You will have to shell out full price for whatever “The Next Big Samsung Thing” will be at the time.
Samsung has recently been tooting their own horn saying that the Galaxy S3 “The Next Big Thing Is Here.” Samsung is finally one company that seems to be investing a lot in marketing just like Apple, and, but there is one key difference that is going to leave you frustrated (very frustrated) if you buy a Sprint and Samsung-marketed device (i.e. not Galaxy Nexus). That is: OS updates.
Over time Apple has proven one thing, and, that is that they will provide updates for even quite old devices. Take the iPhone 3GS which was released in June 2009. Apple will support to-be-released iOS 6 on that device. That’s 4 years after 3GS was released. Not to mention the very quick timelines that the updates are released at.
Now take Samsung. Galaxy S2, released September 16, 2011, i.e. about 10 months ago. Android’s 4.0.1, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), which was released in October 2011, hardly a month after the S2 release. Samsung has recently started rolling out ICS for S2, T-mobile finally got one in June, but neither Sprint nor Samsung have committed to any dates for ICS update. I am guessing that they are too focused on the S3 to pay much attention to the S2.
Maybe Sprint S2 will get an ICS update, but who knows when. One thing’s for sure, we won’t see any glimpse of Jelly Bean for at least another 6-8 months, if ever. The latest rumors are that JB cannot be supported on S2 because of hardware limitations. Which is just BS because the Google Nexus S will have Jelly Bean.
All in all, please be aware that if you are purchasing the Galaxy S3 on Sprint then you shouldn’t really be hoping for Jelly Bean any time soon, and that you can forget about whatever the next version of Android is going to be. If you care about keeping up with the Android OS then the only worthy options are Google’s own offerings.
Manufacturers, here is an idea: suggest and commit to an actual release cycle.