The Google Pixel 8 and 8 Pro will be supported with seven years of “OS, security, and Feature Drop updates,” meaning buyers should be able to use them until 2030 before their software starts to become outdated. “You’ll receive the latest OS and security updates for 7 years, and new, helpful features with Feature Drops every few months,” Google’s blog post announcing the phones reads.
Seven years of software support is a big step up compared to what Google has offered previously, which has been limited to five years of security updates and only three years of Android OS upgrades. It’s also a longer support period than what basically all of Google’s mainstream Android competitors are currently offering. Samsung, OnePlus, and Xiaomi are all promising four generations of Android version updates and five years of security updates for their latest flagships.
Google has the freedom to offer this longer support period thanks to using its own Tensor processor in the Pixel 8 series, which gives it more control over the hardware that’s gone into the phone compared to most of its Android competitors. Fairphone, a competing Android manufacturer that prioritizes lengthy support periods for its devices, has publicly spoken about how difficult it is to continue to support a phone after a chipset manufacturer like Qualcomm ends support for the processor used. In Google’s case with Tensor, the power is in its own hands.
Apple, another manufacturer that also produces its own processors for its phones, offers similarly lengthy support periods. Although the company doesn’t promote explicit promises about the number of years it supports its devices for, it released five major iOS version updates for the 2017 iPhone X before ending support with iOS 17 this year. Even then, however, Apple will occasionally release security patches for older devices.
In theory, Google’s pledge should mean the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro get updated to at least 2029’s Android 20 and maybe even 2030’s Android 21, depending on when in the year the update gets released. But that assumes Google is still using the same annual release cadence for Android seven years from now, even before we get into its somewhat flaky history of ongoing support for other services and initiatives.
Although seven years of security support puts Google out ahead of its mainstream competitors, it’s still technically beaten by Fairphone, which recently announced the Fairphone 5 with a promised eight years of security updates (with 10 years as a stretch goal). However, Fairphone has no plans to sell its fifth-generation device in the US and is also only committed to releasing five major Android OS updates.