Pixels Barely Reach Toddling Age Before Google Gives Up On Them

I’m baffled by Google’s lack of long-term support for their first-party Pixel phones. I thought that was a huge selling point for going with the Google Phone”.

A screenshot of Google’s chart showing the expected end of updates for its Pixel phones.
Straight from the horse’s mouth, only about three years of updates for the Pixels.

I had to do some Wikipedia research to remember when the first Pixel phone debuted. It was in 2016, and then it stopped getting the latest updates after three years. It was Google’s first phone (even though it really wasn’t), so I could forgive that. Let’s check in a few years later with the Pixel 3. That phone came out in 2019 and won’t get updates after this year (2022). Again, just three years of new features. Hmm. Fast-forward to today. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, the latest and greatest from Google, and which run on their own custom silicon, are still only guaranteed the newest version of Android for three years (until 2024).

Shall we compare to the iPhone? iOS 15 is available on phones all the way back to the iPhone 6, which was released in 2015. A whole year before the first Pixel. Apple doesn’t provide a timeline for how long their phones will receive the latest version, but the support length has only been getting longer over time, and it appears to be at least double that of Google with Pixel.

It’s hard not to see the parallels between Google’s commitment, or lack thereof, to its messaging services and its Pixels phones. You can’t build loyalty with your customers if you’re not loyal to your own product. That’s why I scoff when folks suggest that Apple intentionally inhibits their phones so that people have to buy a new one. I’m not a happy customer if I have to do that. Not good customer sat”, Tim Cook’s favorite metric. Instead, Apple offers the most extended support in the industry, while their most comparable competitor gives up halfway around the track.

As the A-series silicon has gotten more advanced, efficient, and faster, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the iPhone 13 dancing on the grave of Pixel 6 as it gets iOS 22, 7+ after its debut.

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