April 18, 2024

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Google is already faltering on its seven-year update promise

Google is already faltering on its seven-year update promise

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

Seven years of updates, as we saw with the Google Pixel 8 and Samsung Galaxy S24 series, should be a premium selling point for the latest and greatest smartphones. In theory, it is; The good old days of missing out on the latest Android features just a couple of years after purchase were a shame, and up-to-date security is more important than ever now that we store almost everything on our phones. However, Google may have bit off more than it can chew with these long support pledges, especially when tied to the promise of dropping features on a regular basis.

I'm sure you've read that Google's Pixel 8 is at the center of the latest controversy after it was confirmed that the Gemini Nano, Google's built-in model for running AI on the device, will not be coming to the base model after it makes its way to the market. The most expensive Pixel 8 Pro. This means no AI summaries or smart keyboard responses without the cloud. Cause: Unspecified hardware restrictions. This is a double whammy, since Video Boost and other AI doodles were actually intended for professionals.

It is clear that the Pixel 8 will not have the same features as the Pro phone during the next seven years, despite the similar hardware specifications. While many consumers may not be too bothered by the limited uses of AI today, they may end up being bothered a few years down the line when their phones don't offer the same features as competitors (or similar devices from the same brand). Especially if they think they were promised as much. Without comprehensive updates, the gap with future devices is likely to grow very quickly.

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Seven years of updates are quickly turning into a vague, worthless promise.

It's also unfortunate that Google recently removed Android 14's battery stats feature, which showed the number of charging cycles and battery manufacturing date, from the entire Pixel 8 series. The reason given is that the feature is intended to be only available on the upcoming Pixel 8a onwards. It feels like another case of current hardware not being future-proofed enough to support a feature planned just a few months away. Regardless, once again, the message reiterates that you shouldn't expect to receive all the latest stuff when you recently purchased a Pixel, even if it's only a few months old.

The high-end Pixel Fold, which promised five years of updates, also appears to have been left out in the cold. There's no word on if or when the $1,800 foldable will receive Pixel 8-era features like Video Boost, Night Sight with Time Lapse, Summarize in Recorder, or anything Gemini Nano-related. You might think that a premium product would rank high on the update priority list, but Google is treating it as a prototype. We still have the odd complaint that multitasking remains a pain and that little has changed since the move to Android 14. It's not a great look for a proven product.

Champion position Samsung Galaxy S24 vs Google Pixel 8

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

While it would be unreasonable to expect every new feature over seven years to receive updates (after all, hardware evolves), Google has failed to bring several key features to its phones even a year after launch. What hope do we have that seven years of updates will mean anything more than minimal support? Feedback across our surveys on this topic is consistent; Fans are upset, and confidence in the seven years of promised promotions is already wavering. 37% of our surveyed readers already regret buying the vanilla Pixel 8 model!

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To be fair to Google, it introduced several new options across its devices in its Drop Shipping feature on December 23. The Call Screen feature now appears on the Pixel Watch, you can use the Pixel 6 or later as a USB webcam, and dual-screen preview has arrived on Fold. However, the features that grab the headlines, like AI, are the ones that fans are keeping an eye on, and this is where Google's update policy is a disappointment.

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All hope is not lost for long-term updates. Samsung is not leaving anyone behind, as it has implemented the same Galaxy AI capabilities in all three entries in the Galaxy S24 series. This is despite differences in regional segments. Google's lack of commitment to the Pixel 8 pales in comparison. Furthermore, Samsung plans to quickly return many of the latest One UI 6.1 features to the Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23 FE, Galaxy Z Fold 5, Galaxy Z Flip 5, and Galaxy Tab S9 series. Updates should arrive early summer of '24.

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus

Bright and sharp screen with a resolution of 1440 pixels
Excellent update commitment
Useful features of Galaxy AI

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Samsung Galaxy S24

Samsung Galaxy S24

Seven-year modernization commitment
Elegant AI features
Strong battery life

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Google Pixel 8 Pro

Google Pixel 8 Pro

Excellent cameras
Fun and exclusive Android 14 customizations
The promise of industry-leading modernization