Why Google’s Pixel 8a may be the most important phone of 2024 – Computerworld

Google’s always been ahead of the game when it comes to software support timeliness. But it’s been stuck on this three-year window for longevity for far too long — a liability that creates a perception of Android phones not holding up to iPhones when it comes to support life. Heck, even Samsung started providing four years of OS upgrades to many of its Galaxy models [in 2022], and while it’s far less speedy and reliable with those deliveries (and switches to a quarterly model for its security patches starting in a phone’s third year, on top of that), that contrast isn’t exactly a good look for Google as the platform’s primary keeper.

The Apple comparison is pretty misleading, too, truth be told — as what constitutes an OS update on Android is wildly different than what you find on iOS. Long story short, Apple bundles in all sorts of stuff into its twice-annual updates while Google breaks numerous system-level pieces out into standalone apps and updates ’em numerous times a month in a way that reaches all devices more or less instantly and indefinitely. So it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples juxtaposition, to say the least.

But even so, the reality remains that after three years, a Google-made Pixel phone has traditionally stopped receiving operating system updates. And despite all the emphasis around security patches and Play-Store-provided rollouts, Android operating system updates absolutely do matter — as all interface enhancing and feature finessing aside, OS updates often include significant under-the-hood improvements along with important security and privacy advancements. They also introduce both expansions and restrictions to APIs, which are what permit third-party apps to interact with your phone and personal data and perform a variety of advanced functions.

Those updates are so important, in fact, that I would never suggest anyone keep using a phone that isn’t actively receiving ’em in a reasonably timely manner.

And now, that exact same seven-year boost is coming into the midrange realm — at the price of $499.

To break that down even further: At $499 and with seven years of ongoing updates, you’re essentially paying a mere $71 bucks a year (rounded to the nearest full dollar amount) for an all-around smartphone experience that’s completely unmatched at that price level. Hell, one could argue that the all-around experience provided by the Pixel 8a will likely be better than what you’d get on most non-Google-made Android flagships, even.

But it’s relative picture that really matters. At $71 a year for that full period of advisable ownership, the Pixel 8a costs less per year than its higher-end Pixel 8 cousin — which, with its $699 starting price tag and the same seven years of support, comes out to roughly a hundred bucks a year if you buy the phone early in its release cycle and hang onto it for its full period of advisable ownership. So the 8a is $29 less per year than the regular Pixel 8, in other words. That seems about right for a high-end to midrange difference, wouldn’t ya say?

Leave a Comment