A surprising new twist in the saga of Google’s already heavily leaked Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro suggests that the upcoming handsets could receive up to seven years of Android updates.
The information comes from leaker Kamila Wojciechowska, via 91Mobiles, who published a specification sheet for the new Google devices. Within that is a single mention of the new update policy, which simply states “7 years of OS and security updates.”
Currently, Google offers three years of Android updates and five years of security patches, so extending the total package to seven years would be a huge improvement. If accurate, the new update policy would put Google’s pixel phones at the top of the Android tree and above Samsung, which currently offers four years of support for its flagship devices.
91Mobiles hasn’t provided any more detail about how those seven years are divided, but I suspect the Pixel 8 models will see five years of Android updates with two years of security patches added on top.
It’s also possible that the final year or two of security patches are released infrequently, which would be at Google’s discretion. The company has some history here, the 2018 Pixel 3 line received a final update in 2022, a year after the guaranteed update period ended in 2021.
Longer software support is a win for consumers and the environment because it means people can hold on to their devices for longer. Apple has led the way for a long time by offering between five and six years of iOS updates, while older devices like the 2015 iPhone 6S (which can only run iOS 15) received a security patch in July 2023. Android smartphone owners do not get to see this level of support.
This has long been a shortcoming in the Android world. The length of support is inconsistent across all manufacturers and in some cases, unjustifiable. The 2020 like Motorola Edge launched with just one promised Android update and later updated to two after some backlash. When a smartphone can cost upwards of $1000, it should last for as long as possible.
What will be interesting to see are the results of a Pixel 8 teardown and its subsequent reparability score, which hasn’t been great for the least two cycles. iFixit gave the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro a score of six and five out of ten respectively. While smartphone teardown YouTube channel PBK gave the 7 Pro a score of 5.5 out of ten.
A new opportunity for Android phones has opened up since iFixit dramatically dropped the iPhone 14’s reparability score because of Apple’s policy of serialization. With a new Android support offer that matches Apple, perhaps improved reparability is the other arena Google can compete in.
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