ANDROID

How Google’s Pixel 6 Update Policy Could Change Android Lifecycles

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Recent rumors of a change in update policy for the upcoming Google Pixel 6 have sparked conversation among Android users. If these rumors are to be believed, we can expect a much longer update window than what's been offered in the past, much to the delight of Android enthusiasts.

Let's discuss how a change in update policy could affect Android phone owners and the lifecycle of these devices themselves.

How Is Android's Update Policy Changing With the Pixel 6?

Both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are impressive devices with powerful cameras, packing the brand-new Google Tensor SoC built from the ground up for the Pixel.

Google Pixel 6 Portfolio Shot
Image Credit: Google

What's even more interesting, however, are rumors that the Pixel 6 will guarantee five years of software updates. If this is true, Google will surpass Samsung in long-term support. The Korean giant has been slightly ahead of the game since it revised its Exynos SoC in 2019.

This would also be a massive departure from the norm for Android, given the limitations of the Qualcomm chipsets typically used in Android devices.

How Android's Current Lifecycle Works

Most Android phones come with three years of OS updates, plus another year of security patches to follow. Samsung is the exception, offering four years of updates and five years of security patches on models released since 2019. Though you can keep using a phone outside this window, the lack of security updates leaves it vulnerable to exploits, putting your data at risk.

Android Robot, Google Logo
Image Credit: Yuri Samoilov/Yuri Samoilov Online

Android has always lagged behind Apple in software support. 2021's iOS 15 is available on devices as old as the iPhone 6S, released back in 2015. Though Google won't be breaking new ground here, it's a step in the right direction for Android users. Now more people will no longer be left without updates only three short years after buying their phone.

A New Direction for Android Going Forward

If this is a sign of what's to come, we should expect to see more manufacturers building their own SoCs, rather than relying on Qualcomm's Snapdragons. Though Qualcomm has made efforts over the years, the company hasn't been able to extend its support to nearly the same lengths as Apple, despite the Android userbase crying out for it.

The advent of custom CPUs in smartphones is a net positive for everyone. With manufacturers gradually developing specialized chips for their devices, we should see snappier response times and better overall performance. However, it's always best to wait for reviews, as it can take a while to iron out the kinks in new hardware. Being an early adopter in this realm has some drawbacks.

The Dawn of a New Android Era?

While credible sources have made the claim about the five-year update change, Google hasn't confirmed this yet. However, if Google establishes five years as its new standard for OS support, expect to see more developers follow suit in developing custom chipsets. Tech is a competitive field, and the big manufacturers won't want to fall behind the pack.

This is excellent news for anyone who likes to hang onto their phone for several years. The security updates will keep older models viable for longer than they are now, and users won't have to worry about their data being exposed by outdated security patches. And even if you upgrade your phone more often, this should make older devices hold their value for longer.

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