Google yesterday announced the Pixel 8 series, something I almost missed being wholly occupied with the release of Android 14 and all the new enterprise docs and features that came with it. (You can see what's new here and find my notes on articles and such shared yesterday here).
There are plenty of new features exclusive to the model, but the biggest announcement as far as I'm concerned is that of software support.
Second only to Fairphone's commitment just a few weeks ago of up to 10 years of support for the Fairphone 5, Google as one of the larger OEMs on the market has come very close with a commitment of 7 years, both major OS and security patch support is guaranteed here, meaning the Pixel 8 should find its way up to Android 20/21 by 2030.
Today we announced our commitment to providing seven years of software support for Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, including Android OS upgrades, security updates and regular Feature Drops. That means your Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will be supported all the way into 2030.
The announcement post is not quite explicit enough as the above quote could be later construed to mean a mix of both OS and security patches, allowing Google to stop at Android 18 if desired given each major release benefits from CVE backporting for 3 years (as it stands in 2023, at least), however with further digging their own documentation offers a black-and-white commitment of both OS updates and security updates until 2030:
|Phone||Guaranteed Android version updates until at least:||Guaranteed security updates until at least:|
|Pixel 8 & Pixel 8 Pro||October 2030||October 2030|
|Pixel Fold||June 26, 2026||June 25, 2028|
|Pixel 7a||May 8, 2026||May 7, 2028|
|Pixel 7 & Pixel 7 Pro||October 2025||October 2027|
As you may notice from the above, this is a reasonable increase in support over previous devices, including the just-released Fold. This achievement looks to be linked to the new Tensor G3. Tensor, Google's in-house chip, offers them end-to-end control over the hardware they ship, and the support they provide. This is in contrast to many OEMs on the market reliant on the likes of Qualcomm and MediaTek, vendors with many chipsets available and little financial incentive to offer extended support on most of them (exceptions to this exist, see again Fairphone's use of the QCM6490).
While we're looking at software updates, Google took the opportunity to announce a change to how they release updates:
As part of this effort, our security updates, bug fixes and feature updates won’t roll out on a specific day each month. Instead, we’ll deploy updates as soon as they’ve completed the necessary tests to ensure they improve the experience for all Pixel customers.
This is good news for Pixel customers. Though it may appear as if guaranteed zero-day updates are being dropped, in reality Google are foregoing a rigid schedule in favour of better-tested, more reliable updates overall, they may just not arrive on the same day every month.
Finally, Google also promise component availability for the full period of support, ensuring for as long as Google provides updates, customers and organisations will be able to repair their devices. That's a pretty big deal.
To save rewording what I wrote in the Fairphone article:
OEMs offering just 3 years of security updates are basically offering one, maybe two OS version upgrades at a push, and just enough patching to tick a box for minimum viable lifecycle. For consumers with more aggressive hardware cycles (carriers offering annual upgrades, younger generations/enthusiasts swapping more often to keep up trends) it can be argued the effort to reward isn't too skewed, since beyond 3 years of security updates you're catering to a much smaller market. But for enterprise? Not even close.
Organisations for years have far, far outrun this lifecycle, and have suffered the higher TCO associated with replacing devices out of security update support to protect their environments. It's somewhat improved over the older standard 18 months as a typical EoL for software support (around the time MADA started referencing it), but it's long been desired to get this well up towards the 7 year mark.
- Fairphone raises the bar with commitment to Android updates
As it happens, well up towards the 7-year mark is exactly where the 8 series sits, making it a pretty compelling choice for enterprise use. If they confirm decent (3+ year) hardware availability also, to allow organisations to purchase more as they need them rather than changing to a newer model, that'd take the cake.