Dead Pixel

Years ago T-Mobile did something revolutionary: they ditched two-year contracts. A norm in the industry, they decided to let you finance your phone separately and separate it from the service billed monthly. That decision lead to a series of moves leading to people holding onto them for 3-5 years according to a 2019 report.

Bundled with keeping your phone is the expectation of that phone getting updates. Apparently, one of the more popular Android phones, the Pixel 3, shouldn't be used any further. Google has decided to stop updating it entirely. This phone is only three years old. Aaron Gordon at Vice has the scoop.

Despite being just three years old, no Pixel 3 will ever receive another official security update. Installing security updates is the one basic thing everyone needs to do for their own digital security. If you don’t even get them, then you’re vulnerable to every security flaw discovered since your last patch. In response to an email asking Google why it stopped supporting the Pixel 3, a Googles spokesperson said, “We find that three years of security and OS updates still provides users with a great experience for their device.”


While I would love to skewer Google for this lack of support, it scratches the surface of a deeper issue: good 'ol Android fragmentation. Android is installed on so many devices, it's near impossible to provide ongoing support for them all. This is nothing new for Android. However, the Pixel is supposed to be the Android phone. I've said for years that if Apple ever discontinued the iPhone, I would only consider the Pixel. It's pure Android and not bogged down with nonsense.

Three years of security updates for a phone doesn't cut it anymore. It would be good of Google to support even only their own Pixel phones for 5+ years given the growing time people take to upgrade their phones. They could easily build a special "Pixel version" of Android they create and it would give them a big advantage over Samsung and others. Google has the means to do this, but for whatever reason they don't. John Gruber put it more succinctly.

 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.

John Gruber at Daring Fireball