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Google discontinues the Pixel 4, nine months after release (techcrunch.com)
351 points by prostoalex 84 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 428 comments



DBrand summed it up best in their marketing email for the Pixel 4 skins just after the launch:

> That's right: it's another marketing email from the robots at dbrand. That means it's time for another email footer. Here are a few ground rules if you're reading this on your shiny new Pixel 4. First, make sure the battery is fully charged - you don't want it dying while you're reading this, do you? If you need to scroll to keep reading, you'll have to use your greasy, gross thumb to do it. No hand-waving allowed. Lastly, consider turning off Gmail sync - your photos are going to burn through that non-expandable storage very quickly. With that preamble out of the way, here's our footer: dbrand is having a 10% off sale - masking your $800+ mistake has never been more affordable.


It burns! It burns!

It also raises and interesting question in me for the folks who think of themselves as "product" types. Has anyone measured the effect of platform denigration on improving or diminishing a brand?

I am trying to imagine ways you might A/B test this. Set up two brands with products in the same space with comparable specifications, and have one that is "product focused" in their outbound messaging and one that is "platform hostile" in their messaging. Then compare customer loyalty and margin support in the two brands.

Curious to know if anyone has done this.


On specs the Pixel 3a is a no-brainer for me as my Nokia 6.1 is getting long in the tooth however the Nokia has been such a hassle-less little phone and is tough enough to have survived 7000 miles on a motorbike without a mark that I'll likely buy another of whatever their current model is.

Also AndroidOne so I'm still getting updates for it which is the longest after purchase that's ever happened on an android handset.

At least I would except the Nokia 6.1 does literally everything I need out of a phone still so I'll likely wait another year at least.


For what it's worth, the Pixel 3a is the most fragile phone I've ever owned. In 12 years of carrying smartphones around, it's the only one I've ever broken.

There are two problems with it:

- Within 2 weeks the top of mine was covered in thousands of tiny scratches. It seems like maybe it was a manufacturing defect in the screen coating or something but Google wouldn't replace it. They did however do a great job of fucking around in their support emails to exhaust the 30-day return window.

- The body is plastic but the glass goes all the way to the edge. Dropping the phone on its corner caused the screen to crack and die completely (and this was with a screen protector on).


My 3a XL has fallen many of times without an issue (in a case) usually on laminate flooring or something relatively bouncy, but the other day I dropped mine on carpet no less and the OLED screen under the glass cracked and killed the screen. The glass on top was totally fine, but the screen underneath just had big crack across it and some rainbow colors.

I tried looking for replacement screens and they are out of stock all over the place and relatively expensive starting at $100ish from places I would consider more reputable and maybe 10% less elsewhere. I'm not sure if the lack of screens lends credence to how easily they break, but it certainly can't be used to disprove it.


I had the same experience, I bought an entire Moto G7 for the price of a Pixel 3a screen replacement.


My wife got a Moto G6 two Thanksgivings ago. I got a G7 this past Thanksgiving.

I am really pleased with how well the phone works for the $150 price tag.

I don't use my phone all that much, but I can't imagine a situation where I'd justify paying 3-5x that amount for a phone. The Moto G line seems to be perfectly adequate.


I currently have a G6, after upgrading from a G4. Also have to agree the brand is a fantastic bang-for-the-buck.


G7 would be perfect for me if only it had NFC. It seems you have to go into the 300$+ range to get NFC.

Is is really that expensive to add NFC, or is it a marketing thing where it's considered a premium feature for product differentiation?


I've cracked a 3a screen and had pieces of it just fall out exposing the hardware behind it from a 6 inch drop off my lap onto my patio with one of those transparent cases on. This is the first time I've broken a phone screen in my life.

All of the used ones I've bought have huge scratches on the screen making me believe it's compromise glass at a cost reduction. I buy phones used because I like recycled instead of new, and usually there are small scratches like swirl marks in a car, but never huge scratches like all of my 3a's so far. That's fairly anecdotal however.

I keep buying them though, they're absolutely excellent value for a Pixel device and I do recommend them. A 4a is on my radar.


I'm a clumsy person and have dropped my Pixel 3a numerous times. It withstood all of those drops fairly well. The only one it couldn't withstand was the drop on concrete and I was lucky to get away with a cracked screen in the corner. The back didn't crack which is nice.

The Pixel 3a is hands down the best phone in terms of value for money. I'll get the 4a 5G later this year provided it has the headphone jack.


Completely agree. The zillion scratches happened within a week for me. My screen didn't die when I did drop it (on a carpeted floor!) but it did crack. It's the only phone I've ever had crack.


Agreed. My screen cracked on my 3a and it wasn't even being roughed up or used daily, it was a backup phone to test images/roms on and other stuff.


That's terrible. Everyone's experience varies, my Pixel 3A has been great, no problems, no noticeable scratches. The killer feature of the 3A for me has been ability to take night time sky photos and show something. I got a usable picture of the comet.

I really don't want to ever buy a phone without a headphone jack. At least the 4A still has one. Only reason to buy a 4A now would be to get 128 gig storage.


Yeah two of my daughters are very happy with the cameras on their Pixel 3As, enough that they're willing to put up with the badly cracked screens.


I've found corner drops to be the bane of all phones.

It took a lot of good drops to crack my screen, and I think I'll be able to go for a month or two before I swap in a replacement. (No screen protector or case)

I don't really see why the glass needs to go so far down. There's a large buffer of space before the screen actually starts


I just got the Nokia 7.2 to replace my pixel 3 after I broke the screen. A bit large for my taste but otherwise hassle free, powerful and pleasant. Definitely checks all my boxes - even happy with the camera now that I've tuned it some.


Yeah that's a good phone.

The thing I like about the Nokia is the chassis is aethetically gorgeous and a single piece of aluminium coated in unobtainium, isn't a mark on it after nearly 2 years.


I think it's safe to compare across companies for this, because everyone is just laser-cutting 3M vinyl sheets.


oppo and vivo comes to mind. They both owned by BBK Electronics


Oppo, Vivo, Realme, and Oneplus after are owned by BKK.





afc0a3c0fc0ef4451685ed0faf3fdadb400949d7 648be680b5b805eb9dac37c0d55910a0b2d471cb4c6da81d0430b5d4d762306e c0b0447e297f65cad4e141f966990f5ea0186028fd4664cc277a7beccac758c929564ccf211c180f117302f4faebbfa6a2ce57bc2d8fe4d11a366df9dd7a1386


On release I purchased a Pixel 4 and gave it an honest-to-god try for a week. The battery issues really were as bad as the reviewers said they were. I needed a phone with the best camera available and sufficient battery life to handle an overseas vacation, and the Android ecosystem at the time had fallen so far behind Apple that I actually jumped ship from Android to iOS.

So quite literally, Pixel 4 is what caused Google to lose me as an Android user.


Why not get a 4XL?


I didn't want that form factor.


Dbrand marketing emails are awesome.


ouch!


Please, do NOT link nor read techcrunch.com on hackersnews or elsewhere. It is harmful.

Techcrunch is using double redirect trick via https://guce.advertising.com/ to plant cookies in your browser as first party ones.

That's right, thats a reason of mozilla firefox ETP 2.0 which you read about today, WHILE most of users and us are currently NOT protected from it: https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2020/08/04/latest-firefox-roll...


I wondered why that has been happening to me too, all techcrunch URLs redirect to advertising.com/* and then stop (extentions / pihole blocking the domain, I guess).

Why would any self-respecting website redirect everyone through a domain called advertising.com on each visit? Who thought that was a great idea?


IIRC Techcrunch is owned by Verizon Media, same as advertising.com.

Probably the overlords mandating tighter integration.


> advertising.com

they didn't even put in the effort to obscure their platform even a little bit, huh? not even trying to hide it.


They probably acquired that domain at the time when advertising wasn't an offense.


"advertising.com" sounds a lot better than "surveillance-and-behavior-modification.com".

The term "advertising" has become a euphemism for a much more insidious group of activities which, as it turns out, are useful for advertisement (among other things).


HN should just block techcrunch and associated oath/verizon domains. There are always alternative sources that don't use these flagrant dark patterns.


Thanks for explaining this!

I have that domain blocked at the firewall so all I see is

    guce.advertising.com refused to connect.
I wondered what it was about and how a techcrunch link could go straight to guce.advertising.com


Can someone please explain this in a bit more detail?



This is made worse by the fact that browsers don't show the intermediate domains in the address bar during a redirect. They used to, but stopped after attacks were found where you could make the URL in the address bar different from the contents of the page. For example, you could show a phishing site, then redirect to some URL on google.com that takes forever to load, and that would show in the address bar.


Thankfully uMatrix blocks this, so that I don't have to remember.


With uMatrix installed I don't ever even see this redirect, I don't think. I suspect whatever script is causing the page to redirect is also getting blocked. Does this normally happen to everyone?


The redirect happens at the HTTP level - if you don't see it you may already be cookied.


So the mechanism is, I send HTTP request to domain x. If my request doesn't have a specific cookie, I get sent to domain y, which has the cookie, then sent back to domain x?

I don't know how I could have gotten it, uMatrix would certainly have blocked advertizing dot com for me. I'll check on that computer and then edit this post.

Edit: I'm definitely not sending this cookie, in fact I have cookies completely disabled on this domain via uMatrix. I notice that a guce.js is blocked by uBlock origin. Since I'm not getting redirected, either this is a regional thing, or else they're redirecting using JS as I suggested previously.


> most of users and us are currently NOT protected from it:

available in Safari since 2018. it's part of the ITP feature.


Also a pain for people with adblocking tech installed


> Just like all Pixel devices, Pixel 4 will continue to get software and security updates for at least 3 years from when the device first became available on the Google Store in the U.S.

This is something I just don't understand. As phones get more powerful, there is absolutely no excuse to not support them for longer. When did the standard for supporting consumer devices get so low? Love it or hate it, Apple still supports the iPhone 6s Plus. A phone which is almost 5 years old now.


I was thinking the same thing the other day. I just updated my parents' computers (which are 10 years old) to Windows 10. They still work great for their needs and they're up-to-date. I'm running a 7 year old ultrabook also on Windows 10. I'm planning to upgrade this year, but at least it's secure with the latest updates. I feel like we've been able to get a ton of use from these devices.

Meanwhile, I have a Samsung Note 2 phone which is 8 years old. It's fast enough for what I do (browse the internet for 10 minutes a day, send a dozen WhatsApp messages, book an Uber). That thing was released in 2012 and could no longer upgrade to new Android releases in 2014. That's pathetic. I need to replace it this year, not because it's too slow, but because it's insecure and no longer supported by anything. I was going to buy a smart scale the other day, but the app doesn't support my Android version. Also wanted an app for syncing the time with my Bluetooth GShock. Not supported. Sonos speakers? Not supported. It's a garbage phone now not because of the hardware, but because of the lack of support.


You're talking about three different classes of device: PCs, phones, and IoT (IoS)/deep embedded.

Embedded development is hard. Really hard. And much of that difficulty is intrinsic to the problem space, so it isn't going away anytime soon. But much of it is just embedded developers being masochists and embedded tool developers being sadists. For phones, the pain is probably 90% avoidable. 90 percent!

No, I don't know why we live with it either.

The reason your phone is different than your PC is that the PC's OS has all the drivers for everything built in, then loads whichever drivers your specific machine needs. Embedded Linux images are built specific to one model of hardware, with weird crappy OEM-provided drivers baked in and nowhere else available. It doesn't _have_ to be this way. But it is.

So to support your phone, the vendor basically maintains a custom-patched kernel with a bizarre build process. And that's done more or less independently for every model they're supporting. It's a huge headache!

Why deep embedded is this way is a little more understandable. (It's also where I prefer to work if I'm doing software; I don't like embedded Linux. It's just not my thing. So if I'm wrong when talking about it, that's why.) Deep embedded is often working with very limited hardware, custom circuits, and general strangeness. It also can serve the industrial, automotive, or medical markets, which naturally tend to longer product cycles. So the product is generally less standard, meaning it makes more sense (at least to me) why the support flow is so bespoke.


> You're talking about three different classes of device: PCs, phones, and IoT (IoS)/deep embedded.

Not really, Google applies the same disposable approach to supporting ChromeOS on bog-standard x86 hardware. I have an x86 Chromebox that Google suddenly dropped all support for - including security patches - with a generic message that "your device is out of its support window". This basically rendered it useless as a ChromeOS device, because you can't browse the public web with an unpatched web browser. Yet I can run up-to-date Linux in Crouton.

I don't see how this is technically any different than Microsoft deciding to stop all Windows 10 patches on PCs older than a certain age not because of any blocking compatibility issue, but just because they've passed a certain age threshold and they don't want to do it anymore.

I used to evangelize ChromeOS as a great, simple solution for non-technical users who just want to browse the web without the hassle of maintaining a full-fledged PC, but I won't do that if Chrome devices are part of the smartphone "time based support model" rather than the "compatibility based support" model we've had on PCs for decades. A PC for basic use can easily last 10 years, OEMs who arbitrarily shorten that are not helping their customers.


That "custom-patched kernel with a bizarre build process" is a self-inflicted wound on the part of both Google and the carriers. It could have been corrected years ago.


Surely, you mean "Qualcomm-inflicted wound"?

After TI left the Android SoC space, most OEMs and Carriers are beholden to Qualcomm, who write their own drivers and will never mainline them, if they can help it: long upgrade cycles will hurt Qualcomms bottomline, planned obsolescence via kernel incompatibility is how they achieve that. I don't think customers will upgrade from Snapdragon X05 to Snapdragon X20 for the minor gains in performance, if their old device could get the latest Android features.


Couldn't Google bend Qualcomm to their will? Or even just buy them out, it's not like they lack the cash.


Google decided on a cheaper technical solution instead - they only recently started abstracting Android drivers from the linux kernel (Project Treble[1]), which should allow drivers to continue working after the kernel has been updgraded.

1. https://android-developers.googleblog.com/2018/11/an-update-...


Except Qualcom drivers are so crappy, you can rely on a remote exploit via WiFi or BT every year. So no chance to use the phone longer than maybe 2 years, even if nominally the software support might be longer.

Not incidentally, "Qual" is german for "torture".


Yup, and to that point, the fix is really stupid simple, push the drivers into the linux kernel mainline and give google (or whoever) a kernel build profile for your device.

Done. You don't have to support the device for an eternity and, as a bonus, you can benefit from OS improvements to your drivers/etc. Hell, you and other manufactures using the same broadcom SOC (and hear me out... this might sound crazy) wouldn't have to spend the same engineering effort building drivers!

Of course, that would require manufactures to actually give a damn about driver quality, whereas the current situation allows them to push out the most broken patch imaginable to pass whatever conformance tests google asks for.

That would also cut into manufactures bottom line which is why I suspect they've not gone down this route. Gotta sell them phones every year... (they'd cut support to 1 month if they could)


> Yup, and to that point, the fix is really stupid simple, push the drivers into the linux kernel mainline and give google (or whoever) a kernel build profile for your device.

"If only the bad people would just stop being bad!"

This mantra continually assumes goodwill from people who continue to show that they have none. At some point one needs to stop gaslighting themselves and their users and make the system more robust to bad actors. Manufacturers don't want to mainline their drivers? Fine. You can work on getting drivers mainlined while also stabilizing the interface so that it doesn't injure a billion customers when they don't.


Google earns more money with the current scheme, so they have no incentive to improve this. Android One is a joke, it should be the baseline for Android, not a "special" version.

They could force the OEM to play ball, like they require Google Play Services to be pre-installed.


> They could force the OEM to play ball, like they require Google Play Services to be pre-installed.

I think Google really has to walk a fine line here. Android OEMs are already not thrilled with their lack of freedom when it comes to changing the experience on their phones. The more restrictions Google adds on, the closer some of them (especially Samsung) will be to cutting ties with the Android name and forking.


Google had absolutely no problem with forcing the hands of device makers when it came to their ability to build devices running a fork of Android.

They are not powerless. They simply made the decision to treat carriers and device makers as the customers they cared about and not the people using the devices.


And lose access to the Play Store? Ain't gonna happen! Not even Microsoft was able to break the duopoly.

Huawei only stopped shipping the Store because they were legally obligated.


Yeah, there definitely needs to be some sort of enforcement that keeps bad actors from misbehaving.

Google seems like the natural point for that. Maybe a law is needed? Too bad most law makers are completely tech illiterate.

But I agree, it won't change without some central force to kibosh it.


So this situation has persisted for years, across the entire Android ecosystem. You're not going to just fix it with "one simple trick".

> Yup, and to that point, the fix is really stupid simple, push the drivers into the linux kernel mainline and give google (or whoever) a kernel build profile for your device.

Yeaaaaahhh... I don't see most companies doing that.

1. It is a lot of work to clean up your driver (that will only ever be used on one product) enough to be accepted into the mainline kernel. It takes time, effort and skill. Companies don't want to pay for that, because it doesn't contribute to bottom line. The MO is: get the product out... yesterday so we can sell it and make some money.

2. Even if it was accepted, does that mean it is going to work forever afterwards because the Linux kernel fairies / pixies / whatever will maintain it? No. If you're going push out a new release to end users, you'd better make damn sure it works. So that means each Android release has to go through a long round of QA. Who's going to pay for that?

There's only a couple ways out of the current mess we are in. Only one is likely to actually work.

Option 1: Release the IP! Have basically all phone SoCs (system on chip) use the same IP blocks for the display, I2C, SPI, memory controllers, GPIO, various sensors, power management, etc. Then you can be more like a PC where the system can basically boot up, and you can then download additional drivers as needed. This will never happen.

Option 2: Fuchsia style microkernel. Create a device driver API for the various SoC hardware blocks, and make it good and flexible enough that you never, ever have to change the API. The device driver binary is written once during initial product development, and can be carried into newer OS updates with no changes at all.

People need to realize that the SoC world is not like the PC world. Hardware interfaces change all the time, with every release of a new family member. Some stuff doesn't change much, like a USB host controller, because the SoC world has standardized that somewhat. Other stuff like power management is a total pain.


Partially.

You know, your PC has BIOS/UEFI and PCIE busses and other ways for kernel to discover what it is really running on, which drivers to load and so on.

ARM devices have none of these (except for servers, where Redhat had enough clout to say, that if your ARMv8 server has no UEFI, it will have no RHEL). Not only they add up to energy consumption (it is extra hardware, after all), they add up in the BOM as well (again, it is extra hardware). So we are stuck with kernels targeting only a known hardware (which today devicetree describes to some degree) and where a poke on a wrong port could mean that the entire device hangs. And after all, no consumers base their decision on whether a third party can replace the operating system, so why make a worse (=worse battery) and more expensive (=more BOM) than the competition?


> No, I don't know why we live with it either.

Maybe it's the profit motive.

If companies are not incentivized to change, then nothing is going to change. If companies pushing OS and hardware refreshes every year means people are going to buy more phones, I'm not sure why they would have any reason to stop.

Anecdotally, I needed a new phone because my Pixel XL was getting 4 hours of standby time and was constantly overheating. I had just gotten back from an overseas trip and was nearly stranded several times from finding myself in remote places with my backup battery dead. In the end, I settled for a OnePlus 7 (ironic, I know). I would rather have used the Pixel for many more years. hate not having a headphone jack or bezel, and I know that some product manager is going to use my purchase as evidence that those "features" were the correct move and continue to propagate the belief that nobody wants headphone jacks or bezels anymore. But I was in serious need of a smartphone that was actually reliable over one that had a headphone jack or bezel, so I got one without those features anyway.

People like me are now reliant on smartphones to do things like make calls, navigate unknown places or look up things on cellular data. In my book, if people need to have a cellphone in order to function in modern society, or are at least strongly incentivized to have one, then planned obsolescence only increases profits. Companies can market this as "upgrading" to new phones with a festureset that doesn't have to be a significant improvement over the last generation, and if people are used to this and don't mind spending the money to upgrade, then this will continue. And there are surely a lot of people who will buy the lastest model anyway even if they don't absolutely need to upgrade.


Since you are planning to replace it, first unlock the bootloader of the old device. Then install whatever version of android is available for your device on xda-developers.com

Always check exact version/model (US model, Indian Model, etc) before flashing ROMs

Full Guide to unlock - https://gearallnews.com/how-to-unlock-the-bootloader-of-sams...

Your phone's XDA page - https://forum.xda-developers.com/galaxy-note-2

Check out what Custom ROM you want here https://forum.xda-developers.com/galaxy-note-2/orig-developm...

Use TWRP to flash ROM - https://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1938733


That's not a fair comparison. PCs have barely gotten faster in the last 10 years. 20 years ago you could spend $2000 every 3 years and get a 10x better computer. Not so last 10 years. Aside from graphics cards the hardware has not gotten noticeably better or faster for day to day work.

So of course you can upgrade to windows 10.

Phone hardware has. Very much so.


Yeah, but that's not why windows 10 still works on 10 year old hardware.

Windows works on 10 year old hardware because hardware manufactures don't get to modify the windows kernel. Instead, they have to push out drivers which work with the windows kernel.

It's really that simple.

There are several solutions here.

Google could make their own kernel which is closer to the microsoft kernel methodology (Fuchsia is basically just that)

Google could ban devices that with custom kernels from the play store (They MIGHT be able to do that now, then again, Android could be forked).

Google could create a private kernel repo and have manufactures submit to it. They could have their own kernel build profiles. (if getting things into mainline linux are deemed too difficult).


PCs have gotten a lot faster in the last 10 years. Not 10x every three years better, but significantly better. The high end PC of 2020 would crush the high end PC of 2010.


Performance has increased, sure, but it's different.

Compare the best PC from 1990 with the best one from 2000. That change makes 2010-2020 look like it was standing still.

Phone evolution for maybe 5-10 years after 2007 was more like the nineties, though it's definitely starting to slow now.

And Windows 2000, from 1999, for instance, only supported ~4 year old hardware. Windows 10 has it much easier!


Yes, the rate of change for PC performance in the 90s was insane, and the effect was magnified by the fact that most horizontal applications benefitted from the extra power.

The OP was claiming that there’s barely been any change in performance in the 2010s, which is just not true.


a mid grade 2010 PC with an SSD upgrade will still be extremely usable. Go 5 years to something like a Broadwell i7, and many people might not be able to tell its 5 years old. I would expect that CPU to function fine for 5 more years. (albeit it no longer has support or security patches.)

The biggest improvement, from a most people perspective, in the last 5 years is power usage. They run cooler, and batteries last longer.


Indeed. I just picked up a laptop from my shelf the other day that had been collecting dust for years (literally booted it last in July 2017), as a friend needed a replacement laptop.

The laptop was bought in 2011. It was a fairly cheap one then, and has a dual-core i3 with hyperthreading, and it came with an SSD. I added another some RAM I had laying around so now it has 8GB.

After getting a fresh copy of Win10 on it, it's surprisingly usable. Webpages loads just fine, YouTube is accelerated so is smooth. I could totally use that for my daily laptop had it not been for the rather lackluster 1366x768 screen.


Yeah, but does it make any difference in day to day usage? I don't think it does. I'm using a 4770K at the moment. A Ryzen 3600 compiles my C++ project 30-40% faster, but that's literally the only time my old CPU is a bottleneck. If I wasn't working with C++, I can't see any reason I would want to upgrade the CPU -- even 7 years later.


A Ryzen 3600 is a different tier than a 4770k though. So you're effectively saying a mid-tier CPU today will handily beat a top tier CPU from 7 years ago.


It doesn't matter what tier it is. The point is that compiling C++ is the only thing that even comes close to maxing out the 7 year old CPU.


I still do most of my Java, .NET, C++ development on a 2009 laptop, it does the job, doesn't matter what will crush it on 2020.


That’s true. But a high end PC released in 2010 can still run the latest version of Windows, Office, and Chrome well.

This was my work laptop in 2010 with 8GB of RAM and a 2.66Ghz Core Duo. They let me keep it after the company folded. Until late last year, it was my Plex server and I used it occasionally since it sat right by my work computer.

https://www.cnet.com/reviews/dell-latitude-e6500-review/

The only time that it felt slow compared to a modern computer was disk access. I could have upgraded it with an SSD if I wanted to.


It’s not obvious when doing just normal stuff on an iPhone SE vs an iPhone 5s, which is about 7 years old now.

I use the 5s as a Spotify player and when I wiped it and set it up for the task, I was pleasantly surprised at how snappy it still felt and how everything I tried with it continued to work.

The hardware doesn’t have to be incredibly fast to support most of the functions supported - it’s only a small subset that really benefit from extra CPU speed and hardware acceleration.


Desktops and laptops are commodity hardware with standardized drivers and interfaces. Phones are secretive buggy hardware running secretive buggy binary blobs. It's difficult to get manufacturers to upstream anything or even give you any information at all about their hardware, and it's a herculean task to work around all the firmware oddities to upgrade devices yourself.


You can put LineageOS on the Note 2 if it is the LTE version.


More and more apps break with custom ROMs now though. Netflix is the big one.

Still probably worth the trade off though - Lineage OS is great.


The answer is to start using open ROMs before you get sucked into attractive nuisances like Netflix. However if you're stuck now, get a second device and work on weaning yourself off.


Hear, hear. Who wants to watch TV for 19 minutes on a phone before it overheats and the battery dies, anyway? And then how am I supposed to compulsively doomscroll while ignoring the show I'm ostensibly watching? Hard pass.


I don't think comparing the phone to a PC is entirely fair. A smartphone gets used everywhere and more or less constantly. Even a laptop is mostly used on a desk or other flat workspace where it's less likely to get dropped/ flushed/ etc. Also, up until 4-5 years ago, smartphones were moving pretty quickly in terms of capabilities.

On the other hand, comparing the useful life of this to the iPhone is entirely reasonable, particularly since its the price of a mid-high end iPhone. It's pretty sad when you realize that the new iPhone SE released just 6 months after the Pixel 4 will almost certainly be supported for 2-3 years after Google has abandoned the twice-as-expensive Pixel 4.


They're not talking about hardware durability though. They're just talking about software support. Wear and tear on the physical device should have nothing to do with the company's willingness to continue supplying software/security updates to the phone years down the road.


This is the exact reason why my next phone will be a Pinephone (just waiting for it to ship now). I'm expecting it to last a good 10 years just like any decent Linux laptop.


People love to hate (which seems justified on the surface) on Apple's high prices, but the unparalleled years of support makes it worth it for me. Especially for phones like the SE.


I have an iPhone 6S Plus. Apparently it came out in 2015. The ORIGINAL Pixel was announced in 2016. I'm still getting support for the 6S Plus - I actually have iOS14 beta running on it rather pleasantly. It's plenty fast, too.

Based on support period, one can easily justify the most costly iPhone over the seemingly temporarily supported Google/Samsung etc. flagship.


https://wiki.lineageos.org/devices/sailfish

Non-professional developers support Android Q on the original Pixel, but Google is too resource-starved, apparently.


I still rock an OG Pixel. I haven't seen an update in a while, but hardware-wise the phone is solid.


Why all of the downvotes?


Likely because your statement that your Pixel 1 still works and is not receiving software updates is exactly in line with the points being made in the comment you replied to, and people are probably interpreting your point as "but my device is fine, what's the problem". The problem is that your device which is still working fine isn't receiving software support.


If only they put even remotely good batteries in their phones. The battery they generally spec out seems to only handle one day of mild use (including accounting for Apple's very efficient processors), and VERY quickly loses capacity and other specs. I'm sad they don't provide an option for if you like having 3500mAh or more.

Unfortunately I still wouldn't be happy with an iPhone as I'm just not a fan of iOS


The batteries are usually decent for the first two years. After two years, getting a battery replacement from a 3rd party has gotten cheaper and can be worthwhile (right now it's 35€ for an iPhone 6S and 45€ for an iPhone X)


Comment was referencing multi-day usage, not overall lifetime


I tend to use my phone more as a computer with a lot of SSH, unzip/unrar, downloading audio files, editing audio files, sending videos, full file manager access, and I want to move to iOS because I am absolutely not liking Google at all, and have tried, but it's just not there yet. I see improvements being made, but things like not being able to hold open an SSH session without subscriptions or expensive applications is a big issue for me. iPhones also can't play .webm's and other media files. I have a 6S plus I keep trying, but its personally not there yet.

Also not a fan of face unlock and wish they'd implement a fingerprint into the screen. I usually block out the front camera and any sensors that I don't use.


Early Android devices had removable batteries and most of the popular ones had custom ROMs that extended support for way beyond OEM updates.

The irony is that early Android phones were built to last, but quickly got obsoleted by more recent models. Now, progress is much slower, but the thing that kept devices alive (removable batteries and community ROMs) are dying. Real obsolescence is replaced by planned obsolescence.


> Early Android devices had removable batteries and most of the popular ones had custom ROMs that extended support for way beyond OEM updates.

how long is "way beyond OEM updates"? one year? two years? three years? five years? The main problem is that third party roms can only update so much. Without OEM support, you're not going to be getting updates for the proprietary bits of your phone. This includes blobs, baseband, and even the kernel (technically it's open source, but all android phones run off a customized kernel that's specific to that SoC. When that SOC gets EOLed, the updates stop coming).


Even if there are custom ROMs and the like, as gruez said, you will not be receiving updates for other critical parts of the phone. Regardless, those are only community supported, and not from the vendor.

I have far less trust in a random community. Plus, their EOL could be completely unexpected.

I do not want my phone to be reliant on community updates, personally.


This thread talks about Apple as if they're the only company offering support and warranties. Whether it's their products or services, Apple's success is based on a smooth experience and they pursue to control the entire ecosystem. So for them to offer long-lasting support is neither surprising nor significant.

The Android phone market is distributed. You can get almost anything there you can get from Apple, in particular wherever the competition regulators had done their work.

The stuff Google itself is participating in is a different matter. Honestly, with respect to consumer products and UX Google is generally a failure. It's like Google is full of engineers and analysts but lacks talent in every other profession. Even Microsoft which has been so often a late-comer and the death for so many brands seems to be better at it.


How long is Apple's guaranteed support?


They don't have a "guaranteed support" lifetime, because instead they just have a track record of supporting hardware well beyond the (2-3 sigma) x (average) person keeping their hardware.

When you see "guaranteed support" by a manufacturer, you can be sure that it actually means "guaranteed end of support" timeline. Which Google follows exactly.


I was curious so I looked to see if I could find a chart that shows how long iPhones typically receive iOS updates. Some are up to 6 major releases (and possibly more — we'll find out next year).

https://www.statista.com/chart/5824/ios-iphone-compatibility...


Their track record seems to be more recent- earlier iPhone's were not supported nearly as long, from what I have seen.

While Google may end support as soon as they can, not all manufacturers do.


> Their track record seems to be more recent- earlier iPhone's were not supported nearly as long, from what I have seen.

This is sort of true.

It is true that Apple dropped support for older devices much faster in the past. But it is also true that the older devices were way underpowered.

As an example: when Apple introduced home screen backgrounds on the iPod Touch, they released the same software upgrade for all iPods. However, since the older generation didn't have enough compute power (most likely GPU), they disabled the feature for older generations. I thought they were trying to force people to upgrade, but after a jailbreak and force enabling the feature, I realized that it was not the case. It was not smooth, so this is why they disabled it.

Same goes for, say, iPads. The first iPad quickly got obsoleted, but it was also very underpowered compared to subsequent devices.

They will not hesitate to drop hardware if it turns out to be insufficient, but they are just as likely to disable a feature if there is insufficient hardware support and allow the OS upgrade anyway.


Other vendors are far worse. After using iphone 5s for 4+ years, My kid now watches youtube or play game etc on that phone. Android phones after 2-3 years basically turn to crap. It could be OS/ battery/plastic shell/screen that fail for sure.


The original iPhone had 3 years support, same as the Pixel 4 :)


As someone who has bounced back and forth between iPhone and Android over the years: my hate hasn't seemed to have been fixed over the years. Sure Apple will push updates for 5 years, but after about 3 years somehow the latest update makes the phone so slow as to be unusable. It's happened to me with every iPhone I've owned (3G, 6, and I guess we'll see on the latest).


If it helps ease your concerns any - my current work issued phone is the lowest end iPhone 6S model and it is still running fine to this day on latest iOS. Granted, the 6S is a pretty significant spec bump up from the iPhone 6.

The performance of my personal Pixel 2 on the other hand has not held up nearly as well by comparison and my next personal phone will likely be an iPhone even though I'm not a great fan of Apple.


I also have a work iPhone and a Pixel 2 personal phone. I haven't encountered the same thing as you in terms of performance, they seem to be aging pretty similarly to me.

Google's attitude to customer support and brand loyalty, on the other hand, is a different story...

My girlfriend's Pixel 4 screen cracked and was a huge PITA to fix even though we paid a ton for extra warranty. Trying to get that fixed was far more painful than any experience I've had with other brands.

Worse than that, there is a software bug that can / will irreversibly brick your Pixel 2 rear camera. You can find a ton of info on it by searching. It doesn't seem to affect everyone, but I was unlucky enough to hit it last week, presumably from a recent update. Google has been absolutely silent on this issue. Unethical at best, and probably worse.

There was a time where I would have scoffed at paying a premium for Apple or other brands that sell an experience more than just a device. That's completely changed now. I don't have the patience or energy in my life to deal with what I perceive to be Google's cold / impersonal / numbers oriented approach to customers. It's just not worth the stress. If anything, I'm willing to pay a pretty big premium for the opposite. If that means switching our household to Apple products, so be it and good riddance.


I didn't mean to imply my Pixel 2 is unusable by any means. The phone is still perfectly usuable but it is certainly not as snappy as it used to be despite its ridiculous overpowered specs. For instance, bringing up common applications like the camera or dialer has noticeable lag now under current Android 10 that wasn't present in previous versions of Android.


My Pixel 2 XL has been humming along nicely, even on Android 10. Maybe I should worry how Android 11 will run on it--it will be the last update planned for this phone, and hence an opportunity for Google to make me unsatisfied with my old phone--but as it stands now I have no performance complaints whatsoever.


My Pixel 2 XL had heating issue. The battery couldn't last much at the end. I couldn't use it as GPS anymore (plugged or not) because it was over heating. I have a Pixel 4... still get warning about heat when using it as GPS once in a while ( I have the phone in the A/C vents so it has no reason to get that warm).


Contrary to your view, I have a Pixel 2 XL and the battery is still stupendous. My only disappointment is how long it takes to charge on an old style, 500ma-1amp charger.

Did you leave in plugged into the AC adapter overnight? anecdotally that killed my previous phones and there's also (anecdotal?) evidence that it isn't great for it.

Have you checked what apps are eating all the battery? On older phones, newer versions of certain apps seemed to turn them into pocket warmers, getting stuck in a tight CPU loop and efficiently turning 3000mAh into heat at about 5 watts


Did you leave in plugged into the AC adapter overnight? anecdotally that killed my previous phones and there's also (anecdotal?) evidence that it isn't great for it.

Don’t most people do exactly that with their phones? If that’s something that actually breaks a phone, that’s ridiculous and they should fix it.


Similar complaint - I have a Pixel 2. Everything still works great, except for the battery, which lasts around a third as long as when it was new. I checked out replacing it, appears to be highly difficult to not damage the screen when replacing. Sigh. I'm ordering a Pixel 4a to replace it.

It's kind of a drag that once they finally got the fundamental hardware and OS good enough to really last for a few years, they also made it nearly impossible to do what should be simple maintenance.


Anecdotal for sure, but my Pixel 2 is still running great. My last one was running even better until it got stolen. The batter life, while not phenomenal, was still pretty good since I took care to preserve it (just basic things like not charging it over night, keeping it around 60-80% battery).

After it was stolen, I bought another Pixel 2 used and while the battery life is worse, it still runs perfectly well as far as I can tell.


Even the iPhone 6 runs all right. I have dropped mine quite a few times and it still works fine for my needs (which are not many since I have a computer). I have to admit that sometimes it doesn't start charging without shaking the cable a bit though, and not being able to update to the latest iOS version is regrettable.

But what I'm saying is that my iPhone 6 is still running mostly fine as well.


I've heard that was the case for some of the older devices, but they're really gotten better at it. I'm currently using an OG iPhone SE (a 4 year old phone) and I'm running iOS 14 beta and it runs great.


I'm still running an 6s plus. My luck might run out with iOS 14, but so far so good. It was expensive when new, but I've gotten 5 years out of it. Might get 6 if the update doesn't hurt it. Still runs quickly. Screen is still scratch free. Despite it's high initial price, it's been a bargain overall.


I still have the iPhone 6. Since it became "obsolete" I stopped keeping tracking of iOS updates but I feel like it hasn't hurt much. I can't really install many apps anyway since it only has about 11 GB of effective space (the "System " uses 6.87 GB)


I'm using iPhone 6S with latest iOS and no issues with performance. Although I did replace the battery last year for about 800ZAR (~$45) from a certified Apple repairs company.


I'm on an iPhone 8 Plus which is a 3-year old device and I've had 0 performance or battery issues. I plan on keeping this one as long as possible.


Same here. I purchased it expecting it to last me 5 years, and so far that plan looks sound. I’ve followed the release of subsequent phones in the review media, and I don’t feel like there have been any compelling new features since that would tempt me to upgrade sooner.


The newest phones are so overpowered for their actual use. They should last years. The only thing will be switching out batteries from time to time.


I’m replying to you on a iPhone 5S (2013 model) running iOS 12 (the last supported version), and it runs perfectly fine for me.. Maybe it’s slow as hell comparing to the latest model, but it allows me to do everything I need it to do for me..


I use a first generation iPhone SE every day in conjunction with my regular iPhone 11 Pro Max and I definitely wouldn’t call it unusable. The main pain point I have with it is loading a heavy webpage if I don’t have ad blocking on


You should get your battery replaced. That is generally the cause of performance slowdown -- see the iphone battery complaints thread. But it is known, and an easy fix.


This seems like an odd thing to say about a company that was caught purposefully slowing down older models


As I understand it, Apple slowed down certain models to deal with the problem of batteries losing capacity over time. Which actually could give those phones a longer usable life (slower is better than shutting off completely). The problem was they didn't tell people they were doing it.


Also usable here should be in pretty big quotes. The phone didn't die and turn off, but it didn't get much done either. It could possibly still make phone calls


No, the phone was still usable, just slower.

If Apple didn’t throttle, the phone would restart every time it’s power requirements outstripped the batteries declining capacity.

I think it’s pretty clear which use case is better.


That has been explained a bunch of times:

Apple gives performance beyond what you would expect for a similar phone, in terms of battery life and responsiveness. Then, as you burn through your battery's age beyond what even other phone manufacturers would warrant, the OS slows down the CPU to let you continue using it. So it's actually giving you more than you would've gotten otherwise.

But all the complaints are that iPhone sucks, I guess.


Be transparent.


Move the goalposts


Is that really such a bold expectation that when I buy a phone the manufacture will not use hidden software to downgrade the performance without informing me?

Your standards are in the basement.


As opposed to this?

>the past couple of months have seen a sudden increase in Nexus 6P battery complaints, with many users reporting that their phones suddenly shut down, even though there was plenty of battery life remaining

It's not a simple system crash, because your phone will stay dead until you connect it to a charger.

https://android.gadgethacks.com/news/nexus-6p-battery-random...

That seems especially problematic if you are on the go and need to make an emergency call to summon help.

A working phone seems preferable.


Yes, and what part of transparency is opposed to a working phone? Apple did not have to do what they did in secret. Nothing you have said responds to what I said.

This isn't an "Apple vs Android" discussion. Maybe that's where you got confused.


Google didn't provide a working phone.

When users complained that their phones died while showing a 50% charge and would not work again until connected to a charger, Google did nothing to fix the problem.

>The processor easily overheated, a bootloop bug made quite a few units die prematurely, and lastly, a battery problem surfaced that led to early shutdowns anywhere between 50 and 0 percent. At least the remaining owners of this Nexus device don't have to worry about the latter issue anymore — according to Google, that is. An engineer just marked the early shutdown entry in the company's issue tracker as "fixed."

I don't know about you, but when I just retrieved my Nexus 6P from my junk drawer a minute ago, it didn't have an update pending.

https://www.androidpolice.com/2019/11/16/nexus-6p-early-shut...


I can’t believe people still perpetuate this distortion of the truth. It has to be malicious by this point.


Is it really too much to ask of a company for them to tell us when they're throttling our phones? Yes, they had a technical reason to do so, but people are right to be skeptical about this when it takes a lawsuit for this to come out.


You willfully tried to spread misinformation in your original comment.


Where did I lie? Apple was hit with a $500 million fine for nothing?

I'm not an Apple hater by any means. I understand they had their technical reasons, I was just pointing out the dichotomy between their perceived willingness to support older models and the lawsuit that says they are slowing them down.


Right here:

>This seems like an odd thing to say about a company that was caught purposefully slowing down older models <END>

That is a half truth and considered lying through omission. It's misleading because as written it implies that they slowed down phones without a valid reason, AKA to force upgrades.


Yeah, but I can buy 5 to 6 android phones for the price of Apple's high end phones. So while this makes sense for their cheapest product, even that is twice the price. So the comparison is between 2 to 5 generations of android phones and one generation of an apple phone.


And who cares about the stupid environment, am I right?


Well, a smartphone is fairly bad for its small size, but we're talking less than 100kg of CO2[1][2] to make and operate for its lifetime. But driving a car for a year in the US produces 4600kg[3]...

1: https://www.cnet.com/news/apple-iphone-x-environmental-repor...

2: https://sustainability.google/reports

3: https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-t...


My understanding is that CO2 output is the least worrying part of smartphone usage. It's all the other toxic waste released during mining. Also, if cars are more polluting, that just means cars are bad too, not that smartphones are magically ok.

https://phys.org/news/2018-08-ways-smartphone-environment.ht...


You are right. Few do. If people cared about the environment that much, they would have lobbied for laws against planned obsolescence. Me buying 5 phones or even 500 won't make a difference to the environment. Laws forcing phone makers to support their phones for a minimum of x years might. Clearly, our society is not interested in that. Why should I then go out of my way to inconvenience myself to do something that will make zero difference? No reason to at all.


Typically price is a pretty good indicator of the amount of resources that went into making something. I'd expect the environmental cost of an iphone to be a similar multiple of the environmental cost of an android.


Cheaper devices also tend to be less environmentally-friendly.


The corollary of your point is that its okay because we can just buy more phones more often, which seems like an environmentally horrible option.


Socially and legally, we are ok with it, indeed. Otherwise, we wouldn't allow such a short support window. Our culture is now completely based upon planned obsolescence. I don't agree with it, but that's reality. These are the incentives society provides. In theory, it could easily provide others. In reality, Apple/Google are in many way more powerful than our government so it's unlikely. Like I said above, if this is a problem, it can be fixed. It's not a problem for me. I'd like more support, but I'm ok without support also. Not ideal, but I'm also not going to waste a thousand bucks on a phone either. Or even $400 for the cheapest iphone.


Apple has support statuses for discontinued products which kick in five years ("vintage") and seven years ("obsolete") after the it stops being sold.

It's disingenuous for Google to start counting when the product is released. As the buyer, I don't care when it was released, I care when you sold it to me as new. I could buy a Chromecast Ultra (the current-generation 4K Chromecast, released November 2016: https://store.google.com/us/product/chromecast_ultra) and, by this standard (which may not even apply to Chromecasts, FWIW), they could discontinue it and drop support for it tomorrow.


> Apple has support statuses for discontinued products which kick in five years ("vintage") and seven years ("obsolete") after the it stops being sold.

That doesn't mean OS support. Apple sold the iPhone 6 until September 2018¹ but it did not get iOS 13 only one year later.

¹ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPhone_6


I believe I purchased my present desktop in 2010.

Perpetual donations to debian and apt update; apt dist-upgrade keep it in tip-top shape. The same cannot be said for a growing drawer of phones/tablets that are no longer supported/updated.

(I was glad to see that partial postmarketos support is present for at least some of those devices now. Looking forward to trying that out when I get a chance.)


"I believe I purchased my present desktop in 2010."

My daily driver desktop, from which I do all of the rsync.net CEO things - from terminal to VMWare - is an octo-mac-pro from early 2009.

Currently running el-cap. Nothing is ever slow. 11 years and counting ...


To be fair, x86 Debian will happily run on a Pentium II from 1998.


"Happily" is a stretch. I ran Damn Small Linux (because puppy actually wouldn't fit) on a 233mhz pentium II, with 32mb of RAM and it was..... semi functional (including allowing the USB 1.0 ports on the motherboard to work!) but multitasking or complex tasks caused it to hard lock up and I was too young and uneducated to diagnose the problems


I think my 440BX motherboard supported up to 384 MB of RAM--that would have helped a lot. You can still get PCI SATA controllers for fast swap. You're still capped at 133 MBps because of PCI, but PC100 RAM only runs at 800 MBps, anyway.

What's amazing about the PII is it's the oldest "modern" computer in a few ways. USB came out around the same time, and i686 is the oldest x86 architecture still supported by modern distros out-of-the-box. i686 will be 25 years old in November. The fact that it's still supported is incredible.


Yes, I still have AMD Duron 800 which runs on Linux


Alternatively, depending on your hardware requirements, you might want to consider taking a look at the Mobian (mobile Debian) project. Only the Pinephone is currently supported, but you get things like `apt` instead of `apk` on pmOS, which is based on Alpine Linux. Both are great projects, of course, and I think pmOS is focused on more devices.

[1] https://mobian-project.org/


Is all of the hardware in that desktop still supported by the vendors? I'd imagine not. Go check the ram compatibility list for the motherboard and see when the newest module was manufactured. This is always the first thing that gets dropped from support.


I installed a couple of new sticks of RAM in the Spring.

In terms of security updates for motherboards and other hardware, they're very rare. For my phones/tablets, some are literally pinned to ~Android 6, with just oodles of known security holes.


rowhammer?


Those phones really should be recycled instead of collecting dust. Of course being usable and secure would be the best, but you can't have everything.


Some of it has to do with hardware vendors like Qualcomm refusing to support older chipsets with newer kernels, or you know, just open sourcing their drivers.

My pixel 1 is basically stuck on a 3.18 kernel forever, even if I go and compile AOSP myself, because of Qualcomm's nom-free drivers.

At a certain point, companies like Google have to decide how much they want to backport fixes to older systems. Apparently they've decided on 3 years.


Yup, it is hard to commit to a long security patch lifetime if you can't patch around bugs in major hardware components.


If only Google could make their own phone or phone OS so they were in control over these kind of issues.

Wait...

These are issues totally within their control. These excuses shouldn’t be acceptable.


I'm not saying that Google couldn't make their own processor but it is a serious undertaking. I don't think we can scoff at them for not doing it yet.

Even in their datacenters they use third party CPUs. It's not surprising that they haven't made their own for phones.


They don’t have to make their own CPU. They could use a CPU with a couple of years of guaranteed support. If Qualcomm doesn’t want to do that, choose someone else.


I'm sure they would if they could, but almost everyone uses Qualcomm for a reason: Qualcomm has a practical monopoly on high-end smartphone chips and competition is difficult because of their patent ownership.


Well, actually Qualcomm has 2 years of support, that's why most Android manufacturers also have 2 years usually.

They need more like 5/6, but no one seems to be willing to pay for it.


I think Google should start because I think the long-term viability of Android depends on it.

They don't even need to design the chips themselves. They could partner with Samsung / LG / Motorola to form a hardware consortium.


I wouldn't be surprised if they have started. They have only been in the phone game for ~4 years which I imagine is quite quick to get a custom CPU into a shipping product.


I'm still using an iPhone 6 and it works great.

Nowadays 5 years is really not that old for a phone.

Phone manufacturers should release the specs and/or an open source version of the phone's os so people can provide their own support.


The OS isn't the problem. The binary blobs from Qualcomm is the real problem.


This is the massive advantage of rolling your own silicon.


I would be interested in seeing data on that. When you say "5 years is not that old" it can be read as "a 5 year old phone works just fine" and I fully agree with that, but it may be considered old in the sense that not many 5 year old phones are in use today.

Do a lot of people ignore their carrier's emails about upgrading at the expiration of the contract? I know I do, but I always assumed most people just upgraded almost right away to the new version.


Right, mine works fine as well. So you think that Apple should release the specs for the latests iOS that works with the iPhone 6?


That would be great. But it would also be great if they just released the specs/code of the first version of iOS that worked with any older-than-5 phone.

I still run iOS 10.3 on mine, and really don't care about the latest one, probably would run very slow anyway.



I'm an xoogler who has only owned Google Nexus and Pixel phones until recently when I switched to iPhone. The primary reason I switched was the limited support window that Google has for its phones.


Google and Microsoft lost me when I built a hackintosh on a Thinkpad X1 and my iPhone from work started syncing with it without me doing anything at all. Handoff, personal Hotspot, Airdrop, iMessage, continuity and all that working automatically is something google is very far from achieving with Microsoft.

I’ll keep a windows desktop for gaming, but once Apple settles down through its processor changes I might just get a personal iPhone and a MacBook Pro


I was watching a review of the Pixel 4a on YouTube last night in which the reviewer likes the Pixel 4a and calls the iPhone SE “trash” in comparison because it has bezels. Nevermind that the iPhone will run circles around the 4a in terms of performance and probably receive OS updates for 2-3 years after the 4a is EOL’ed. But no, bezels = “trash”.


I've watched many Pixel 4a and OnePlus Nord reviews and they get compared against the SE a lot, yet I haven't heard anyone calling it trash. You should probably stick to more reputable YouTubers.

Also the form factor and screen to size ratio are very important criteria for a lot of people, if not the most.


A significant portion of phone users are there for aesthetics and status. Those same people are unlikely to have a phone past 1-2 years after paying it off with their carrier.


I haven't noticed the phone status thing in years. Everyone covers their phones with gigantic cases and phone design is largely generic anymore. So it's pretty hard to tell who has the latest one.


iPhones have the largest amount of cases and commidity accessories, so cases and their designs are also a status and aesthetics thing.


This is exactly why people created Pinephone and Librem 5 with lifelong updates.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinephone

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Librem_5


I'm so there with the Pinephone as soon as that slide out keyboard comes out.


I love my 6s. I got a new battery last year and it still works great. I don't expect support to last a whole lot longer but the SE is not a very expensive replacement. I just don't want to give up my headphone jack.


Just bought my daughter the new SE for her birthday. It’s amazing for the price!


Blame Qualcomm. I'm sure this issue doesn't exist in Windows 10 ARM. This might change if Google-Samsung Exynos partnership came into fruition, so Google uses its own chip for its own phones


"Blame Qualcomm"

This seems incredibly dubious as an excuse (for a variety of technical and business reasons), but has been the Google get out of jail card for a decade+ now.

More likely Google loses interest, the devices no longer make them any money and they want to wipe their hands of them.


I agree they could and should be supported for longer, but regarding your comparison to Apple:

> Love it or hate it, Apple still supports the iPhone 6s Plus. A phone which is almost 5 years old now.

You're comparing what Google guarantees up-front for all devices to what Apple has done for the one device. Did Apple give a guaranteed support date for the iPhone 6s Plus at launch? In a quick search, I couldn't find one. I did find articles (eg [1]) from January speculating if Apple would include the iPhone 6S in the iOS 14 update or not.

Google still may support the Pixel 4 for longer than three years.

edit: forgot to add the disclaimer earlier that I'm a Google employee. I don't work on Android or hardware.

[1] https://www.indiatoday.in/technology/ios/story/don-t-ditch-y...


Actions speak louder than words. 10+ years of supporting iPhones and continuously increasing the service life of them says a lot more than a marketing promise.


Apple considers a product "vintage" five years and "obsolete" seven years after the last one is sold: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201624


Interesting, thanks! That covers hardware service/parts. Do they have a matching policy for software updates, at least security-related ones?


Apple has a sufficient track record that speaks for itself.


When you say Google guarantees support up front (like a benefit), what you'll really find is that's a guarantee support ends on that timeline.

Apple (in my observation) tends not to say what length of support will be given, but offers it well beyond when an average person would throw away a device 2-3x over.

When Google says 3 years guaranteed, you can be damned sure you're done at 3 years.


> When you say Google guarantees support up front (like a benefit), what you'll really find is that's a guarantee support ends on that timeline.

No, they say at least and have extended support dates before, eg: https://chromeunboxed.com/chromebook-end-of-life-extended-13... (That's Chromebooks; I'm not sure about Nexus/Pixel phones in particular.)


I constantly get down voted when I say iPhone is the cheapest and most secure mobile device you can buy. "Price is what you pay, value is what you get" -you know who.


It is only most secure if you undoubtedly trust Apple with everything and do not need to run any software except what they allow.


iOS exploits are cheaper to buy than Android exploits because iOS exploits are so plentiful.


I switched to Apple last year.

It is now possible to use a decent[0] 3rd party keyboard on them and the XR is actually not that expensive compared to a number of other phones.

And for the first time since Samsung SII I'm happy with my phone :-)

[0]: the Apple keyboard doesn't support autocomplete while showing Norwegian letters, and it is also hilariously bad it seems wrt autocorrecting correctly spelled sentences into embarrassing ones and even going as far as autocorrecting one medicine name to another at some point. On SwiftKey one can at least turn of autocorrect.


Third party keyboards don't seem to work well land are always getting reset to the standard one.

(On my iPad). User error?


I had to disable the built in to stop that from happening.

Not user error. Bad QA from Apple and/or third party keyboard.


On my iphone the problem is solved by restarting the app. My assumption was either the keyboard or the app updated and lost contact with the other, but I find killing the app solves the problem.


It makes iPhones look cheaper, given you don't have to replace them as often. I expect to keep my 11 for more than 5 years, which will make that $800 price less painful.


Today’s phones are cheap.

Even expensive phones are cheaper than their wireless service contracts in the US. A good rule of thumb is they depreciate about 50% in their first two years (at least for iPhones).

That means your $800 phone is costing you less than $20/month: A $1400 phone less than $30/month.

Right now I’m paying over $40/month each for service for four phones right now.


I pay around $65 for service on 3 phones with Google Fi. But, I'm lucky, I live in an area where it works just fine. Many people live in Verizon-only country, and that's not cheap.


My life is a tiny bit more active than your average gym/yoga rat and phones last me around 2 years. That's consistent across something like 10 years now.

- One got stolen

- Two broke while hiking/kayaking

- One was a lemon and the battery started working funny after a year and a half, it's one of the pixels that came with a high capacity battery and the replacement one is lower capacity so I didn't risk spending money on servicing it

I'm on my fifth phone now.


This why I will only ever use a smartphone with LineageOS (formerly CyanogenMod). Supported until your phone dies, putting aside the firmware.

Unfortunately, you have no options at all for having a modicum of control / openness over your firmware if you want to use a smartphone. Gotta use/build your own odd device if you want that.


LineageOS is NOT guaranteed to be supported until your phone dies. The Lineage OS devs have repeatedly stated that builds are maintained by volunteers, and if the dev responsible for one phone model loses interest in that job or loses his own phone of that model, he can quit maintaining it at any time, and the community has no right to complain. Because Android development is such an arcane science, usually no one else steps in to pick up an abandoned phone model once the original developer has quit.


My phone, an non flagship brand was supported by lineage when it was still being sold and used. Now as main android support has gone, so has the users and so has lineage support. I think it's the same for the majority of android phones. Only the phones with the longest vendor support also get the longest lineageos support. Other phones are out of luck from any angle.


My iPhone 5s is 7 years old and tho it can’t be updated to the latest iOS, still gets security updates.


I've always heard that it's the SoC that doesn't get updated after X number of years so Google is supposedly limited by how much support Snapdragon is willing to give their SoC.


Google is one of the richest companies in the world. If they wanted to, they could demand updates for longer periods or just create their own chips.

It's just not a priority for them.


> This is something I just don't understand. As phones get more powerful, there is absolutely no excuse to not support them for longer.

From our perspective, sure. From the manufacturers perspective, it costs money to port, build, and test new releases. And if people are happy with their up-to-date 5-year-old phone, they'll be less likely to buy the latest shiny new one.

Not saying those are good excuses -- they're explicitly customer-hostile -- but they're completely understandable.


My freshly-reinstalled Pixel 2 XL with a minimal app load has four goddamn gigabytes of RAM and can't even manage to run my podcast player in the background without killing it after 5-30 minutes to economize on resources, despite my having turned off every optimization function on the device. That's why. The software is garbage, and it necessitates an upgrade treadmill to keep pace. It's PCs in the 90s all over again!


>This is something I just don't understand.

Bump up the price of Pixel by additional $100, and you get an 5 years guarantee upgrade.

Not to mention the Pixel isn't that powerful. iPhone 6s despite being 5 years ago, is probably as fast or still faster than some of the sub $300 Android Phone released today. ( Excluding Chinese Brands )


I think it's a combination of two things:

(1) Battery life goes down while wear and tear build up. After ~3 years you are looking at spending money replacing a battery for a banged up phone. Or you can spend another $200 and get a new phone.

(2) Cameras are still getting better. Going from a Pixel to the Pixel 3 was a phenomenal upgrade in the camera.


> Or you can spend another $200 and get a new phone.

I'd guess people aren't replacing a ~$500 phone with a ~$200 phone, but I get your point. Who wants to replace the battery on a phone worse less that the battery?


>I'd guess people aren't replacing a ~$500 phone with a ~$200 phone

That's fair. I buy used/refurbished 1 model behind the current flagship. For me it was ~$140 more to get a lightly used 3 XL than replacing my battery.


To be fair, one of the reasons is Apple sells their old flagships as "mid-tier" options


Obviously they want people to buy more often. For most top-tier devices most are probably bought on payments and generally speaking those customers can get a new phone every 12 months if they assume they’ll always have that smallish monthly payment.


Major issue here is Qualcomm and the fact that Google has no power over them


Not sure if it still is this way, but Qualcomm used to stop supporting their chipsets after a couple years.

Apple makes their own, so...


It's called fraud.

Or an aggressive business model that is fair only to the top 10% of customers who are not concerned with spending $250 per month in effective charges to have a wireless handheld computer with 4G.


It isn't entirely fair to compare iOS and Android update models.

A lot of stuff on Android is delivered directly by the Play store/services, for many years after the end of OS updates for a particular device.


just buy phone with unlockable bootloader and good custom ROM community and you can have this even now, just not officially from manufacturer

anyway in Pixel case the phone will have already after 2 years completely unusable battery, not that it would be satisfactory for heavy user even out of box


"Just not officially" is a simplistic view. You don't know how long the phone is still going to be supported, and you have to have the skills and the patience to go through unofficial documents and procedures in order to make the whole process work. I know because I'm in this situation, and I do support this approach (to "fight against the market"), but it's not an easy feat.


My pixel 3 XL, which is coming up on 2 years old, gets me through the day just fine on the original battery.


well yeah, if you don't use your phone it can get you even through two days, turned off even longer


Not sure what that statement has to do with anything, but good point I guess?


> gets me through the day just fine

just because it gets YOU through the day, doesn't mean it gets others, people use phones differently, for starters their phones have different Screen on Time per day, so while 1-2 hours is fine for you and gets you through the day, for others 7hrs is not enough and phone will die for them before dinner


I average 6 hours of screen on time, easily lasts the whole day. You should be careful talking about the performance of a phone you haven't used, I don't know if you've heard but people on Reddit sometimes don't tell the truth...


just try that on a modern pixel and you are quite likely to introduce unstable behavior. its really not recommended


If it means anything to you, the reason why is:

Google stack ranks employees regularly. Lowest of a group is always fired. Doesn't matter how good you are or how much satisfaction you give to your customers, you're basically asked, "what have you built that could be the next billion customer thing?" If you're not answering how you're part of the next big thing, you're going to lose. So, once something is acquired or released, consider it deprecated.


This isn't true. I've worked at Google for 13 years and have rarely seen someone fired for performance; it's certainly not automatic based on being at the bottom of a stack rank. Other companies have or had such a system [1] but Google never has.

The sliver of truth is that Google's once-or-twice-yearly performance evaluation system asks colleagues to stack rank folks they are reviewing. I wish they'd get rid of it, but it's not used for much. It's only a partial order of folks they're reviewing, nothing really enforces that people actually do it, I suspect some people just rank all the people trying for promo this cycle above the people who aren't, and the many reviewers' stack ranks are never reconciled into one authoritative stack rank of the folks in a group. I don't know why it's still around.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitality_curve


This appears to be incorrect - https://www.quora.com/Why-does-Google-stack-rank-its-employe...

I think you may be confusing the stack ranking at google, that doesn't result in dismissal (Google were in fact, right up until Covid, still on a hiring spree with a shortage of engineers); with what Microsoft historically did (and stopped doing in 2013).


Google actually has the reputation of being the hardest FAANG to get fired from for performance reasons. Amazon is the easiest, due to stack ranking. Facebook is sort of a middle-ground where you risk getting fired if you aren't being promoted at the expected rate, but it's not the same as Amazon's stack ranking.


Stack ranking only contributes to planned obsolescence if the company values decisions which contribute to it.

If the company high prioritized environmental concerns, stack ranking would reward those who figured how to keep products in service longer.


Planned obsolescence.

I owned an iPhone 5S, my phone terribly slowed down in just a year to the point of becoming unusable. Opening the camera app would take 10 seconds. It would randomly freeze during calls and in the end, started having random shut downs. At the time, I didn't know they were throttling the phone. Funnily enough, my battery was replaced a couple of times and had no impact.

I paid $1000 at the time for it. I wrote it off in a year and a half due to all these issues. The manufacturer DID support with updates, but in the end, it didn't really matter because they just kept introducing more bugs and did nothing to address the throttling until very recently when they were caught in the act.

In contrast, I still own an Android 2.x HTC Desire that works flawlessly as a backup phone till date. I got it 8 years ago and is absolutely stunning - be it the beautiful OLED display or usability, and solves my needs perfectly.

I would say, software support for older phones is overrated. If you thought I am lucky with the HTC, then how about my other Android - Xperia X. I've dropped this thing so many times and not once had the screen gotten a single scratch. Supports dual sim and camera is great for low light. Still fluid to use. Again, software support for long term is really overrated in my opinion. As long as you can make calls, surf the web, check emails, take photos, I'd say the purpose of the phone is complete.


The throttling didn’t happen until later, and was dependent on battery health. If you were having issues in the first year it wasn’t the throttling it was probably another issue with the device. I had an iPad like that and was able to get it replaced with the same generation and then-current OS, any issues like yours disappeared with the new hardware.


your anecdote is in direct contrast to mine.

My 5S is still very usable.

-Download offline google maps files on it and use it as a gps in my car. Smooth as butter map animation and everything. -Use it when I'm doing yard work, Podcasts, audiobooks.. The latest overcast app is a little bit hiccupy.. but very usable. -Take pictures with it once in a while...

Still on original battery... On the latest iOS that Apple is currently supporting the 5S with.


Were you using the phone each day to battery 0% straight? Did you consider getting the battery replaced? Those performance issues are completely explainable by the battery age + performance throttling for aged batteries, if you were a 100->0% without any charge during the day kind of user over the course of 1.5 years.


A phone without updates becomes insecure.


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