With carrier phone subsidies now a thing of the past, you may be tempted to buy a flagship smartphone unlocked directly from an OEM, expecting this will offer you a bloat-ware free experience and a mainline to OS updates.
It turns out however that very often unlocked Android phones get their updates well after carriers have released their versions, and today there is finally an explanation.
In a tweet, Max Weinbach from XDA-Developers note that carrier-supplied phones only had to be cleared by testers for one network.
Even if Samsung has a build ready to go fixing some bugs, the carriers need to go through and test each and every build Samsung wants to push. It ends up taking… a while.
— Max Weinbach (@MaxWinebach) March 20, 2020
Unlocked phones however needed to have their updates cleared by all networks on the USA, as an update could show up on any network, and compatability with all needed to be assured.
In retrospect, this does make sense, and the news suggests it may be better to buy directly from the carrier if you want your updates as fast as possible.