The Best Pixel 8 Feature Is One You Won’t Find on Any Other Android

The Best Pixel 8 Feature Is One You Won’t Find on Any Other Android

Google’s new Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro sport some impressive new features. Audio Magic Eraser lets you reduce distracting sounds like wind, traffic, and talking in videos; Best Take combines the “best” faces from multiple group shots into one final product; and Magic Editor harnesses the power of AI to do things like quickly resize and reposition a subject in your photo.

These are all interesting new options for anyone who picks up one of these phones, but it’s not the most exciting thing about them: The best news of all concerning Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro is how long Google plans to support them.

Google will support Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro for seven years

As part of its Made by Google event, Google announced they would support the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro with software updates for seven years. That means guaranteed updates until 2030. Now, if you’re someone who just dropped $US1,000 on a new Pixel 8 Pro, you might think, “Well, yeah. I would hope my phone would last that long.” But the unfortunate truth is this is a dramatic increase in software support from what we’re used to—not just from Google, but from the entire Android smartphone marketplace.

Last year’s Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, for example, have guaranteed software updates until 2025. That’s only three years of support, or four major versions of Android. That’s dreadful, especially for the 7 Pro, which started at $US899. You essentially pay $US300 a year. It’s the same for the Pixel Fold, which is even worse, seeing as it starts at $US1,799. That’s like paying $US600 a year.

It’s not like things are much better in other parts of the Android marketplace. Samsung made news last year for upping its guaranteed software support to four years. Starting with the Galaxy S21, Samsung buyers can assume their smartphones will run five major versions of OneUI (Samsung’s version of Android). OnePlus followed suit, but only for a select number of its flagship smartphones.

While the public might have accepted this sort of thing when smartphone tech was in its infancy, it’s a bunch of BS these days. Smartphones are powerful, and have been for years. Your iPhone 4S might’ve slowed to a crawl after a few years of updates, but the iPhone 12 can run iOS 17 like a champ. These devices can handle more than three or four years of updates: It just comes down to whether their manufacturers want to support them that long.

The small silver lining here has been security updates: Most Android OEMs add at least another year of security support on top of the software support, so users can continue using their smartphones safely even after the Android updates dry up. Google and Samsung, for example, have been offering five years of security updates: Your Pixel 7 might not run Android 17, but it will still receive security updates until Android 19 launches.

Once again, it’s Google vs. Apple

Of course, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro change all of that. Now, your phone is supported with software and security updates until 2030. Until now, that type of smartphone support was Apple’s domain, and Google’s coming for their crown: The company supported 2017’s iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X for five years, or six major versions of iOS, dropping support by the time iOS 17 launched. The iPhone 6S received six years of software support, or seven iOS iterations before Apple dropped support. Notably, all these iPhones still receive security updates. Even the iPhone 5S, which launched in 2013, received a security update this past January.

If Apple wants to match Google here, it needs to support the iPhone XS until at least 2025. If it wants to be the king of smartphone software support, it’ll need to bump that up to 2026. Time will tell whether the XS supports iOS 18, iOS 19, or iOS 20.

Until then, we know where the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro stand. If you buy one, you can sit back and relax knowing your smartphone will be supported until Spain, Portugal, and Morocco co-host the World Cup. It likely will be missing features Google keeps exclusive to the Pixel 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15, but you’ll still see Android updates in your Settings app all the same.

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