Android 4.4 KitKat is making its first appearance on the standard Samsung Galaxy S4 in the form of leaked firmware.

SamMobile shared Android 4.4 test firmware for the Samsung Galaxy S4 on Friday. The Android 4.4.2 build version I9505XXUFNA1, available for download for the GT-I9505 model of the Galaxy S4, is said to be relatively stable with few bugs. With the Android 4.4 update comes such features as "immersive mode," an updated lock screen design, "always on" hands-free navigation, decreased fragmentation with Project Svelte, an updated dialer and caller ID, text message and Hangouts integration, a complete emoji keyboard, updated NFC powered features, cloud printing and storage, TV and Bluetooth compatibility, and screen recording. SamMobile reports that the Android 4.4 firmware provides a slight performance boost in addition to the notable transparent status bar, improvements to the landscape orientation, and a camera shortcut implemented on the Galaxy S4 lock screen, among the most immediate changes in the new operating system.

samsung-galaxy-s4-android-4 Screencaps of Android 4.4 KitKat firmware on Samsung Galaxy S4. Photo: SamMobile

While we don’t recommend installing such firmware onto your Galaxy S4, it is available. Those who wish to flash either build should do so with caution and back up their handsets beforehand.

Android 4.4 KitKat test firmware for Samsung Galaxy S4 information and download.

When will the Samsung Galaxy S4 really update to Android 4.4?

Since the release of Android 4.4 in late October 2013, Samsung has said little about its update plans for the new operating systems. Thus far, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition is the only device running Android 4.4. Most of the information currently available about the status of Android 4.4 updates for Samsung devices has come from unofficial sources. Tech website iTechAddict shared a supposed Samsung rollout timeline in late November, which indicated that the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 would update to Android 4.4 in January. In December, French carrier SFR announced its plans to begin updating both devices to Android 4.4 in late January.

Since then, SFR has released its official 2014 update timeline, and neither the Samsung Galaxy S4 nor the Galaxy Note 3 is listed for upcoming updates. In fact, SFR has the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 now scheduled to update to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean in January, an update which was intended to take place between November and December of last year.

SamMobile predicts that the first Android 4.4 update for Samsung may not begin until February or March. Similarly, we have suggested that January is far too early for such Samsung flagships as the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 to update; especially considering that the Galaxy S4 just updated to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean between October and December. The Galaxy Note 3 is also fairly new to the market, having been released in September and October of last year.

Samsung is known for holding new system updates for older devices until it releases new devices running the OS natively. We’ve seen this done with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Android 4.2.2, the Galaxy Note 3 and Android 4.3 and many others. However, Samsung has recently unveiled is Galaxy Note Pro and Galaxy Tab Pro tablets, which will be the first Samsung devices to run Android 4.4. Release dates for the tablets are currently unknown, but it is likely Samsung’s Android 4.4 updates will follow their release.

Will you be testing out the leaked Android 4.4 KitKat firmware for the Samsung Galaxy S4? Let us know in the comments below.

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