For years, Google’s Pixel phones have enjoyed three years of updates, the longest lifespan on this side of the Android / iOS division. Now Samsung has gone further, offering four years of security updates, beating Google’s Pixel phones at their own game.
One area where Android has always lagged behind iOS is updates, with iPhones receiving up to six years of updates, while some Android phones are lucky enough to get two years. In this area, Google’s Pixel series has taken the crown, offering its phones three full years of updates, including monthly patches and three major versions of Android. The original Google Pixel was gradually upgraded from Android 7.1 Nougat to Android 10, an extension of the original promise to offer only two major updates.
For its part, Samsung hasn’t strayed too far from the brand of late, bringing in two years of monthly updates and two major versions of Android, generally followed by a year of less frequent security updates to keep devices safe. Today, Samsung announced that its Galaxy devices, including Android phones and tablets starting in 2019, are now promised a fourth year of security updates.
In doing so, Samsung has thrown the gauntlet, giving Galaxy phones more updates to Google’s Android operating system than Google itself. If Google is going to continue to allow software features and updates to be some of the driving factors behind the Pixel line, then they will need to respond to this challenge by giving Pixel phones at least another year of updates.
Fortunately, there has never been a better time for Google to implement something like this. At the end of last year, Google and Qualcomm unveiled a system to make it easier for phones to receive four years of updates, including three major Android updates, starting with phones launching with Snapdragon 888 and Android 11. If the Pixel 5a will be It boasts that Arriving later this year, it launches with a new enough Snapdragon chip, it could very easily receive a full four-year upgrade plan.
But what about older Google pixels? The original Pixel and Pixel 2 no longer received updates, and the Pixel 3 is currently scheduled to receive this fall’s Android 12 update as one of the last, followed by roughly two final security updates. This is confirmed by the Google Store, where you can still buy a refurbished Pixel 3, only promising updates until October 2021. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S10, released just a few months after the Pixel 3 series, will now have at least occasional security updates until 2023.
With the Pixel series stuck in camera prowess, allowing other OEMs to catch up, and now Samsung is leading the way toward long-life Android devices, Google needs to step up its game if the Pixel series is going to remain relevant in the future. The best way to do this would be to offer an additional year of security updates in the final update of a phone’s operating system, even if it is not on the same monthly schedule.
Better yet, in order for Google to regain its crown as the king of Android updates, it could offer a four major Pixels update and five years of security updates, for example, the Pixel 3 series update to Android 13 next year, followed by security updates until the end of 2023. If four years of updates will become the norm in Android, it is Google’s responsibility to continue to push the boundaries in a way that encourages other companies to be better, as the Made by Google brand has always done.
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