One of the key selling points of Google’s Pixel smartphone (and Nexus phones before them) is that, unlike most Android devices, they come with a guarantee of two years of major operating system updates and three years of monthly security updates.

Sometimes you get lucky and Google keeps supporting them for a little longer than promised. The original Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones launched in October, 2016 and weren’t expected to get Android 10. But they did.

Then Google rolled out a November security update for the Pixel 2, 3, and 4 series phones… and skipped the first-gen Pixels. Much digital ink was spilled memorializing the original Pixel reaching the end of life.

It turns out the phones aren’t quite out of updates… they’re just almost out of updates.

According to The Verge, Google has one more update planned — the company will release a December update that includes security updates and/or bug fixes for the phone. And then that’ll be it.

That said, there’s always the DIY option. If you’re willing to unlock the bootloader of your phone you’ll lose a little bit of security that comes with keeping it locked, but you’ll also be able to load custom ROMs that incorporate the latest bug fixes and features, among other things.

And that leads to another benefit of buying Pixel-branded phones. They tend to be popular with hackers and independent developers, which means there’s a pretty active community of folks building custom ROMs and other software tweaks for phones like the original Pixels.

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8 replies on “First-gen Google Pixel phones getting their last update in December 2019”

  1. Too bad even Google doesn’t support its smartphones for that long.

    One of the issues with these phones is ARM/ARM licensees and their extremely closed proprietary lack of support ways. I really hope RISC-V actually takes off and ARM goes out of business.

    1. It’s more so the lack of driver support from the chipset manufacturer.

      Apple is the gold-standard because they own the divisions responsible for the hardware and software, so driver support or R&D isn’t a problem for their longterm products. Otherwise, Nvidia seems to be the best in the industry (well, they have a huge R&D team for it), but they aren’t actually in the market to selling chipsets anymore. For the Android Ecosystem, that leaves Qualcomm. They actually have been pretty good, well, at least with their 64bit chipsets ranging from the QSD 625 to the QSD 820. I think Qualcomm has shifted to providing 3.5 years of driver updates to OEMs. Samsung has been notably worse, barely keeping up with 2 years as can be seen in their Exynos flagship devices.

      And it’s not even in the same ballpark when talking about HiSilicon, MediaTek, RockChip, AMLogic, Allwinner, and VIA. Some of those fail to provide drivers. Some of them don’t give sources or documentation. And some of them don’t provide updates for drivers, to add new functions or give better performance/efficiency.

      Case in point; the Samsung Galaxy Nexus by Google didn’t get long-term support because TexasInstruments actually closed their division which develops, licenses, and sells mobile chipsets.

      1. If the chipset manufacturer is responsible how does the custom ROM community keep phones going for years after official support ends? Chromebooks are now getting longer support periods and some have ARM chipsets…regardeless for me this is important I will not buy a phone that does not get at least 3 full years of support both software updates and security patches, leaving almost a single choice: Apple!

  2. Hopefully it won’t be buggy and slow, like the final update to the Nexus 7 (2012) was.

  3. I still don’t understand why they couldn’t support it for one more month. Would’ve been a nice note to end the year on 🙂 (not my year btw since I don’t own a Pixel)

  4. I bought a Pixel 2 because of the support commitment + the ease of unlocking the bootloader whenever that eventually ended. It’s still going strong. (Although I still miss the headphones jack.) Google supporting devices for 3 years seems to be about the best available in the Android landscape, and honestly, that’s pretty pitiful.

    I prefer Android over iOS, but I have to give it to Apple – they’re still supporting 6-year old devices (iPhone 5s) on the latest iOS release.

    I really hope mobile hardware gets more standardized eventually, so that they can just run a standard OS without needing so much customization. Windows 10 still runs on 10+ year old PCs, and Linux can be made to operate smoothly on just about anything.

    1. “Google supporting devices for 3 years seems to be about the best available in the Android landscape, and honestly, that’s pretty pitiful.”
      Check out Nokia Android One phones. They get the same two years of OS updates and three years of security updates and cost less. I have been very happy with my Nokia 6.1

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