This week, Google introduced the Pixel 8, and its most prominent addition is not the Tensor G3 chip, the 48MP ultra-wide camera, or the LTPO display. Instead, it’s Google’s assurance that the Pixel 8 will continue to receive updates until 2030. This includes seven years of Android OS upgrades, security updates, and regular Feature Drops, a significant upgrade from the Pixel 7 (which only received three years of OS upgrades and five years of security updates) and the Galaxy S23 (which received four years of OS upgrades and five years of security updates).
According to Google, their offering is superior to Apple’s iPhone. Apple does not explicitly promise a certain duration for upgrades, but users can typically expect five years of iOS updates and six years of security updates. The latest iOS 17 is compatible with iPhones dating back to the 2018 release of the XR, XS, and XS Max. Initially, this may appear to be fewer years compared to Google’s pledge, but let’s examine further.
Google has committed to providing seven years of updates, starting from the device’s availability in the US Google Store. Therefore, if you purchase a device in August of next year, you will receive six years of updates. It has been explicitly stated by Google that updates will be guaranteed until October 2030. However, this does not guarantee updates beyond the initial release, even if Android 21 is released in October 2030.
The iPhone XR and XS were initially released with iOS 12. This amounts to six complete operating system updates and six years of updates, with the next update, iOS 18, expected in September. Additionally, Apple provides security updates for seven years, as they continue to support the previous iOS version for a minimum of one year. In summary, the two platforms can be compared as follows:
Google Pixel 8
Apple iPhone 15
Assuming Apple does not prolong the lifespan of their current iPhones, the iPhone 15 could potentially receive iOS 23 in 2029, ongoing updates until 2030, and security updates until 2031, based on their previous support of iPhones up to six years back with iOS 15.
Additionally, there is a specific rationale for Apple’s lack of guarantee regarding the number of upgrades. Each iteration of the iPhone is distinct, and by the release of iOS 21, it is possible that the iPhone 13 may not be able to effectively run it. If it proves to be compatible, Apple will include it on their list of supported devices. However, if it is not capable, Apple will not provide support. Similarly, Google cannot predict how well the Pixel 8 will function with Android 21.
According to Tommy Boy, companies often offer guarantees in order to make customers feel secure and satisfied with their purchase. However, this may just be a way for them to cover up the fact that they are selling subpar products. Even if the Pixel 8 receives longer software updates than the iPhone 15 in the future, I would still prefer to trust a company that doesn’t feel the need to make promises.