Google Drops Support for the Pixel 3

Aaron Gordon, writing for Vice:

Not quite three years ago, I bought a Pixel 3, Google’s flagship phone at the time. It has been a good phone. I like that it’s not too big. I dropped it a bunch, but it didn’t break. And the battery life has not noticeably changed since the day I got it. [...] But I have to get rid of it because Google has stopped supporting all Pixel 3s. Despite being just three years old, no Pixel 3 will ever receive another official security update. [...]

But for the past six years, Google has made the Pixel line of phones. They are Google-made phones, meaning Google can’t blame discontinuing security updates on other manufacturers, and yet, it announced that’s exactly what it would do.

As Gordon points out, iOS 15 supports iPhones back to the 6S, which debuted in September 2015, and the original SE, which shipped six months later. (Both the 6S and original SE are based on the A9 chip.)

Update: My theory for this disparity is simple. A lot of people obsess over “planned obsolescence” — the idea that device makers purposefully make several-years-old devices slower or stop issuing software updates for them to drive users to purchase new devices to replace the existing one. I don’t think that’s what’s going on, at least with Google’s Pixel phones. If it were easy to support older Pixels with the latest version of Android, I firmly believe Google would do it. The problem is it’s not easy. In fact it’s very difficult, on both the hardware and software sides. On the hardware side, the device maker needs to be looking more than half a decade ahead. On the software side, engineers need to be looking more than half a decade behind. It’s not spite that leads to Google (and Samsung, and everyone else) supporting their own phones for only two major OS releases after launch, it’s laziness and indifference. Apple is the only phone maker in the world willing to do the hard work to support their devices for five or more years. That’s a fact.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022