Skip to main content

Your Pixel phone will stop seeing updates as soon as next year

Google Pixel phone
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
System updates are one of the more unfortunate aspects of the Android operating system. Google’s Pixel and Nexus devices receive new OS versions as soon as they’re released, while phones from other companies often have to wait much longer. Much, MUCH longer.

Most devices are lucky to see two major Android updates in their lifespan, and the support timeline is rarely clear. Your phone pretty much receives updates on an intermittent basis until it just doesn’t anymore, with little warning.

Fortunately, Google has taken the due diligence of posting a list of when owners of various Pixel and Nexus devices will receive their final system and security updates. Sadly, if you were hoping for a change from the company’s typical policy of supporting devices for up to 18 months, you’re going to be disappointed. The Pixel and Pixel XL will both see their final Android updates in October 2018, with security updates finishing up exactly a year later.

However, it’s nice to see Google draw it up nice and clear, especially for new Android users who made the switch to the platform with Google’s first true flagship. For owners of previous Nexus devices, the schedule is about what you’d expect: the Nexus 5X and 6P, which launched in fall 2015, will see their final Android updates in September of this year, and the even older Nexus 6 and 9 were spoken for in October 2016. All of those devices will receive security updates for an extra year.

It’s a common and valid complaint from the iPhone faithful that Android devices should see the same kind of length of support as Apple’s, which typically receive major system updates more than three years after their launch. The iPhone 5, for example, was released in 2013 but is still getting iOS 10 updates. Conversely, the Nexus 5, which launched at about the same time, saw its last update in December 2015 to Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

The problem, however, isn’t entirely Google’s fault, nor is it solely the fault of Android hardware makers. Qualcomm, which builds the wide majority of chipsets that power Android smartphones, especially those sold in the United States, is required to develop and optimize drivers to support every major system update.

As Ars Technica pointed out in an article last summer prior to 7.0 Nougat’s launch, Qualcomm has set a precedent for the standard year-and-a-half of support, and as they essentially hold a monopoly on the industry (there are smaller players, like MediaTek, though they don’t compare in scale or adoption), it’s difficult for manufacturers to pressure the chipmaker to deviate from that.

This is all the more reason the prospect of Google one day constructing its own system-on-chip is so exciting. The very company that drives Android could also be responsible for building the silicon that powers it (at least in future Pixel devices), meaning it will finally be able to chart the destiny for its products, ensuring they don’t reach end-of-life after a meager 18 months.

However, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see Google’s first-party chips debut until the third-generation Pixel surfaces sometime in the second half of 2018.

Editors' Recommendations

Adam Ismail
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Adam’s obsession with tech began at a young age, with a Sega Dreamcast – and he’s been hooked ever since. Previously…
Pixel 6A case hands-on: More clues about Google’s next phone
Pixel 6 on a table next to two parts of a Pixel 6A case.

It's not unusual for a phone reviewer to receive a phone case, but yesterday I received a phone case for a phone that doesn't exist yet. Poetic sent me a case for the Pixel 6A which, allow me to repeat myself, doesn't officially exist yet. But the case itself suggests a few things about the phone, not the least of which seems to be that it's coming soon. If I had to put money on it, I'd place my chips squarely on Google I/O.

Phone case makers often try to have cases made for popular phones before release. Often cases will be made to exacting specifications from the manufacturer, but sometimes it's a "best guess." Taking things with a grain of salt, we can't assume that everything about this case is right on the money. But the case is an actual product with packaging, so it's fair to assume it reflects some confidence in what's to come.
So what did we learn?

Read more
Google will soon let you repair your Pixel phone yourself
Google Pixel 6 Pro top back in hand.

Google has finally joined Apple and Samsung in allowing you to repair your smartphone by yourself. This marks another win for right-to-repair campaigners who have been pushing for smartphone companies to make phones easier to repair without needing to go directly to the company. The program will go live in counties where Pixels are sold later this year through a partnership with iFixit. Unlike Apple and Samsung though, Google says it'll make this available to phones as old as the Pixel 2 all the way through the Pixel 6 Pro.

"Starting later this year, genuine Pixel spare parts will be available for purchase at for Pixel 2 through Pixel 6 Pro, as well as future Pixel models, in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and EU countries where Pixel is available," Google's Ana Corrales, Chief Operating Officer, Consumer Hardware, said in a blog post. "The full range of spare parts for common Pixel phone repairs — things like batteries, replacement displays, cameras, and more — will be available either individually or in iFixit Fix Kits, which include tools like screwdriver bits and spudgers."

Read more
Google says fix for Pixel 6 Wi-Fi is coming in March update
A closer look at the Google Pixel 6 camera array. Credits: Andy Boxall/Digital Trends.

If you’ve been struggling with getting proper Wi-Fi connectivity on your new Pixel 6, you’re not alone, but the good news is that Google knows about the problem and says a fix should be coming next month.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been hearing sporadic reports from Pixel 6 owners dealing with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth issues. These became more prevalent after installing this month’s security patch, although some folks were experiencing more minor networking issues even before that.

Read more