2023’s biggest Android news is also its most boring

18/04/2024

Phone manufacturers attempt to wow us every year with flashy new hardware, software tricks, and the inevitable camera improvements. But when Android enthusiasts like ourselves get together to pick apart the improvements made in the latest chipsets or camera features, it’s easy to forget the announcement that was potentially more impactful than any flashy AI tool.

The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro offer one of the most important changes to Android, and it’s not AI

The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro launched in October 2023, and to no one’s surprise, AI was the driving force behind Google’s marketing. From AI-generated wallpapers to article summaries, Google made a huge deal out of the software capabilities of the new phones. But it wasn’t the software itself that caught my eye, it’s how long the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro would receive new software and security updates. And at the end of the year, I can’t help but think that this was the most important announcement made for Android phones.

The Pixel 8 phones offer seven years of security support, more than last year’s Pixel phones (including the expensive Pixel Fold) or any of Samsung’s devices. Until 2023, Google and Samsung offered five years of security support for your phone. These monthly updates protect your phone from security vulnerabilities detailed in the regular Android Security Bulletins. Receiving these updates is crucial to keeping your phone protected from malicious individuals.

Google’s software support plans could reduce e-waste

Looming over each new electronic device is the specter of e-waste. Google, Samsung, and Apple have all boasted about the recycled materials used in their devices and the removal of power bricks from phone boxes, but this is simply greenwashing. We’ve already discussed the problem with minuscule changes to form factors forcing people to buy a new case for their phone, but even if you go careless and reuse charging bricks, you have to upgrade to a new phone every few years to stay safe from malware .

This is, of course, bad for the consumer and the planet. Planned obsolescence creates more e-waste and forces people to buy new phones. Google’s switch to seven years of security updates means that owners of the latest Pixel phones don’t need to upgrade until 2030. Other companies like Samsung are following suit by exploring supporting their devices for longer.

Would you still use your phone seven years later?

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It’s easy to think that the reason for limited software support is that older hardware can’t run the latest Android versions, but this isn’t the case. For example, the latest version of LineageOS, an Android-based operating system based on Android 13, can be installed on the original Pixel phone. The simple reason is that it costs money to keep phones updated, and companies would rather encourage people to buy the newest hardware rather than hold on to their old phones.

While this planned support needs to spread to budget Android phones to have a significant impact on the consumer, Google’s extended software support is a crucial step forward for the longevity of Android phones. It’s easy to look back at 2023 and see nothing but AI, but unlike the AI ​​features included in the latest Pixel phones, extended software support solves real problems that we can’t ignore.

But the temptation to fall for the new shiny feature will never go away, so consider these tips if you see the latest Android flagship go for a seemingly unmissable sale.

  • Google Pixel 8 on white background

    Google Pixel 8

    $549 $699 Save $150

    The Google Pixel 8 will get updates until 2030, which is the longest we’ve seen on any Android phone. Beyond that, the Pixel 8 is a great device with a capable camera setup, good battery life, and a design that Google seems to want to stick with.

  • Google Pixel 8 Pro in Bay

    Google Pixel 8 Pro

    $799 $999 Save $200

    The Google Pixel 8 Pro offers the crème de la crème of Google’s vision for the future of hardware and software. It has a more versatile camera setup than ever, a great display, and some exclusive AI features you won’t find on any other device.

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