I have a few friends who work in the gaming industry, and I’ve noticed that some are still using older Pixel devices. Two of them have a Pixel 3 and one is still holding a Pixel 2.
These phones themselves aren’t terribly old, but none of these devices are supported by Google anymore. Support for Pixel 3 officially ended in late 2021, although it has received some minor updates here and there; the latter was due to an ongoing 3G shutdown. But Pixel 2 lost support in 2020, meaning it’s been a while without any updates from Google. Not to mention they’re all on fairly old hardware.
Will any of my friends consider switching to the new and relatively inexpensive Pixel 6a?
Holding on to the past
I started by asking a few of my friends why they were still keeping their older devices. My friend Evan says his Pixel 2 XL just works. “It’s so simple it just works and does whatever I need a phone for. I still have access to all my regular apps, still takes good photos, still works for me all day. There are no weird problems like mine [Nexus] 6P, where he will randomly shut down and die. ”
I admit I was quite surprised by his response, especially hearing that the Android phone released in 2017 was still able to last a full day. That said, thanks to Google’s recent partnership with iFixit, even Pixel 2 owners can replace parts and extend the life of their devices. I was even more surprised to hear that he would gladly take advantage of it, saying, “I’d rather expand what I have.”
My friend Patrick also has no complaints about his Pixel 3 XL, saying he saw no reason to upgrade. “Aside from the little interface quirks, my Pixel 3 XL handles me well,” he says. My friend Kyle shared this sentiment saying that although it usually updates every two years, “I remember Pixel 4 and Pixel 5 didn’t impress me, so I was waiting for something new.”
What about FOMO?
So it became quite clear that the Google hardware just wasn’t for my friends. But what about the software? As I mentioned, these phones are no longer supported by Google, which technically could put them at risk. It’s not really something that consumers generally worry about when it comes to their phones, but Google has set a point for itself to update its Pixel devices every month – for example on the watch – that I’m sure my friends might miss. new patches and features. It turns out not so much.
“It’s a bit disappointing that I’m not getting new features,” said Evan. “But at this point, I don’t even know what I’m missing.”
Patrick is almost relieved that he is no longer receiving the updates. “Maybe I feel a little unprotected because I’m not getting a security update or something like that,” he told me, sounding almost insecure. “But I usually found the Pixel 3 XL updates to have a very low impact on my experience. In a way, I am honestly happy that I no longer receive any update notifications. ”
It’s true that he and Kyle received the Android 12 update last year before support for their phones ended, giving their devices a new lease of life when Google pulled the plug.
Meanwhile, Kyle was … no so happy his phone is no longer supported by Google, which might seemingly distract him from Pixel and Android. “[It] it definitely matters and it definitely pisses me off, ”he said. “Actually, that’s one of the main reasons I’ll consider an iPhone.” He said that while he “hates” Apple and its walled garden, he appreciates the amount of support Apple provides for its devices and that they appear “very error free and fast”.
Considering the Pixel 6a
Seeing where my friends were, I couldn’t help but ask them about the Pixel 6a. After all, the Pixel 6a offers many of the best parts of its flagship Pixel 6 counterparts, from a sleek new design to the Tensor chip powering the device. Sure, the camera hardware isn’t much of an upgrade to what they have, but the Tensor seems to more than make up for that, putting it almost on par with Google’s flagships.
Not to mention 5G and the price. A mid-range $ 449 smartphone with flagship performance is an easy theft. For the price, you get a 6.1-inch OLED display (at 60Hz, yes, which is no different from what my friends have now), the latest Android features and software support for up to five years, including three OS updates . Aside from Samsung, it will be hard to find this kind of support from one of the best budget Android phones on the market.
It is by no means a perfect phone and some issues need to be resolved, but I believe it is one of the most cost effective smartphones out there.
So what are my friends thinking? Evan seems tempted, but there’s no other phone on the market right now, and he’s happy to hold his Pixel 2 for a little longer. – I thought about it. It looks nice, he said. “I think I’m in” essential purchases only “mode right now, so unless my phone is literally broken, I don’t want to buy a new one. Maybe the Pixel 7 will be cool enough to get it. The longer I have to keep my current phone, the more I use it. ”
Prior to launch, Kyle had already asked me about the Pixel 6a rumors, wondering if he should get the regular Pixel 6 or wait for the 6a. I told him he should wait until the 6a was announced before making a decision, and I thought it might be the right phone when I recently asked him if he would consider purchasing a device.
“Definitely! It’s my top pick right now, but I’ve seen mixed reviews so I still need to be interested in it or wait for the Pixel 7 in October. ” Kyle explains that he is curious about the next-generation Tensor chip, saying that the first-generation products are “always a little meh”. He’s also concerned about the move to Samsung, although I can be partly responsible for that after my constant complaints about preferring the One UI 4 to the Android 12 UI on the Pixel. However, he admits that he is not used to Samsung’s software and notes that the phones are a bit pricey in comparison.
Meanwhile, Patrick has no interest in 6a, and it seems he may be more interested in the Pixel 7 when it arrives in the fall. “I’m typically not into lighter, inexpensive versions,” he explained. “In terms of phones and upgrades, I will spend cash if I feel this is a really significant and significant improvement for me. I think since getting my 3 XL it didn’t feel like any of the newer devices would greatly enhance my experience to guarantee a purchase. “
So it seems that among my Android friends, interest in the Pixel 6a is mixed. This is partly because Google’s prior software support kept the devices long enough that they didn’t see the point in updating. However, it also doesn’t help that Google is expected to launch its next-gen flagship Pixels in just a few months, which is a slight difference to the roughly nine months between the Pixel 6’s launch and the 6a’s launch.
I wouldn’t necessarily say Google shot itself in the foot by releasing the 6 so late this year; after all, it gives consumers another price point to consider. But unless the new devices are ridiculously labeled, consumers would rather spend an extra hundred dollars on buying more of Google’s flagship phones.
Despite its shortcomings, I still believe the 6a is fantastic value, and anyone looking for a relatively inexpensive Android phone should consider getting it. Google has apparently done a much better job of giving the smartphone a mid-range flagship experience than Apple did with the iPhone SE (2022). If I hadn’t been stuck on a Samsung like that and hadn’t owned a Pixel 6 Pro yet, this would probably be my next phone.