Google to kill support for iPhone 6s-era Nexus phones and all of its tablets in Android P

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 8
Google's upcoming release of the next version of Android OS will abandon support for all Nexus-branded phones and its sole remaining tablet product, Pixel C, ending future updates for products that were sold two years ago. The decision isn't just Google's however; Qualcomm also plays a role in ending support for functional phones prematurely.


The phones and tablet Google released alongside iPhone 6s are already abandoned


The newly released Android P Developer Preview only lists support for Google's latest Pixel and Pixel 2 lines, devices that have only sold roughly 4.5 million units over the last two years.

According to a report by Rob Amadeo for Ars Technica, Android P will not support Nexus 6P, 5X or any previous Nexus phones. It also drops support for Pixel C, the 2015 tablet device that appeared to be designed to run ChromeOS but was switched to Android shortly before its launch. It subsequently earned poor reviews for Android's lack of support for tablet-optimized apps. Google's ability to deploy Android updates to its installed base is actually getting worse

Google's short period of Android OS support--even for its own house-branded models--is at least partly due to the limited control it exercises over the hardware it puts its name on.

While Android's hardware fragmentation is legendary (and Google's ability to deploy Android updates to its installed base is actually getting worse), even Google has little control over what chips will be supported by its suppliers in the future.

Since 2010, Apple has produced its own A-series chips for use in iPad and iPhones. That same year, Google launched HTC-built Nexus One with a Qualcomm Snapdragon S1. The next Nexus S was produced by Samsung using its Exynos 3 processor, followed by the Galaxy Nexus running a Texas Instruments OMAP 4 chip.

After TI gave up in the consumer electronics processor race, Google partnered with LG to deliver Nexus 4, 5 and 5X; with Motorola to produce the Nexus 6; and with Huawei to produce Nexus 6P--all using Snapdragon chips.

Qualcomm doesn't want you to keep your old Snapdragon Android running

Qualcomm, however, doesn't support its own processors with future drivers (Board Support Packages) that phone makers and OS vendors like Google can use to develop major software updates, even if those companies wanted to keep supporting their older phones for customers.


Qualcomm wants to sell chips, not keep users happy with their old ones


However, neither Google nor its Android hardware licensees have any real commercial interest in supporting the Androids they've already sold either, because doing so would be expensive and difficult and would largely only deter future purchases.

That's also why Android phones generally have very low resale value and is a contributing reason why people who have bought Google-branded products in the past have since switched to iOS. Scant new sales of Pixels indicate that Google does not actually have the extremely desirable brand that it is said to have, particularly in the hardware devices it fails to adequately support.

Apple supports iPhones for five years

Because Apple builds its own custom A-series chips, it can continue to optimize and enhance how its existing devices work, even as it delivers major new software updates. Longer effective life spans mean that iPhones are used longer and retain much greater resale value after a year or two.

Apple has been roundly criticized for slowing down older iPhones in iOS updates intended to extend the functional lives of devices with aging batteries. It's also been castigated for rolling out ambitious new software features that older devices sometimes struggle to run.

There are complaints from iPhone 6 and 6s users that iOS 11 made their devices feel slower. Those phones, however, are now approaching 3 to 4 years old, years longer than any other phone maker supports. Apple even continues to officially support iPhone 5s, a device that is approaching five years old. Apple's active support for iOS devices across many years also increases the size of the ecosystem of buyers who download apps and subscribe to services including Apple Music, iCloud and third-party subscriptions

There are a variety of software features Apple enables users to turn off to speed up their older phones.

That induces General settings such as Background App Refresh, Siri Suggestions and Reduce Transparency, as well as Reduce Motion animations, a setting under Accessibility. Low Power Mode also makes a variety of system changes to reduce background activity to preserve battery life.

These simple settings enable older devices to remain useful even while running more advanced software releases that only appeared as much as half a decade after the hardware was introduced. The result is not only a longer lifespan for iOS devices, which supports a higher resale value, but also an effective expansion of the installed base.

Pundits have complained that longer lifespans of devices and the vibrant resale market for used iOS devices will be a bad thing for Apple. However, keeping devices in use longer actually expands Apple's platform to users who may not be able to afford brand new devices, enabling iOS to reach buyers with second-hand devices that Android makers serve by selling low-end hardware with a short lifespan.

Apple's active support for iOS devices across many years also increases the size of the ecosystem of buyers who download apps and subscribe to services including Apple Music, iCloud and third-party subscriptions like Netflix and HBO Now that also support the iOS App Store.
watto_cobra
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 51
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,811member
    Andy Ihnatko was talking about something similar Tuesday on MacBreak Weekly. Interest in Android Wear devices has dropped off because most use system chips made by Qualcomm and Qualcomm hasn’t updated those chips in two years. Ihnatko is no Apple fanboy and prefers Android to iOS on phones. He also wears non-Apple watches. 
    stanthemanjony0
  • Reply 2 of 51
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,325member
    Title could be clearer; I originally read it as Google killing Android P support for all tablets, which would be much more significant news than them killing support for all Google-branded tablets.  

    For a moment it was quite exciting and confusing.
    edited March 8
  • Reply 3 of 51
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 362member
    “It’s planned obsolescence I tell you!”
    Imagine the reaction if Apple cancelled support for two year old products with iOS updates. 
    pakittcharlesatlaslightvoxmejsricchiajony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 51
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,264member
    Google's upcoming release of the next version of Android OS will abandon support for all Nexus-branded phones and its sole remaining tablet product, Pixel C, ending future updates for products that were sold two years ago. 
    Not entirely accurate as they will still receive monthly security updates. They'll also receive continue to receive updates to the Google core apps. They won't receive the Android P operating system tho as you properly pointed out.  In fairness, and as the author likely knows, this is less impactful on an Android device than it would be on an iDevice not receiving an OS update as Google has increasingly separated new features announced with new OS versions as well as current security updates from needing a full OS update to receive them.

    Of course it would still be better to receive the full OS, advantage Apple here to no surprise. The rumors of Google creating their own chips could certainly be due in part to Qualcomm and their reported lack of ongoing support for older processors.
    edited March 8 pakittmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 5 of 51
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,085member
    hexclock said:
    “It’s planned obsolescence I tell you!”
    Imagine the reaction if Apple cancelled support for two year old products with iOS updates. 
    I was just gonna say this! :smile: 

    If this were Apple, people would be bitching up a storm about how Apple never supports their devices for very long, Apple is just trying to force us to buy a new iPhone, blah, blah, blah. 

    On the other hand...its a great opportunity for those with these devices to go get a real device in an iPhone, not a throw-away device. 
    edited March 8 hexclockmacseekermejsricchia
  • Reply 6 of 51
    Good article, Daniel.

    I think it is clear that Apple delivers a better product in many or all aspects. Support for 5 years on a premium phone that works well seems fair and good business. 

    As for Google and the chip makers, it’s not good business in the long run and it will catch up to them; though, the Plunder and Pillage mentality that many businesses have has been around forever. It is unfortunate that some people live their lives like that. 

    I am glad I have a choice in which phone I can buy. It will be Apple. 

    Thanks again. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 51
    pakittpakitt Posts: 135member
    The fact that Google itself doesn't support its own phones for more than 2 years with new OS releases, means simply that if you want the latest in software, you need to dish out money every 2 years.

    And it means, in case people forgot, that Google makes money not from a common and broad platform where services and apps can thrive and be sold (e.g. Apple Music); they make money by showing you ads on any browser you run on whatever smartphone you have with whatever software/OS you have on it. And it wants to make sure you provide them with data to improve that selling by using their (regularly) updated, OS version-agnostic, apps. Apple, Android or not.

    Hence, no interest in supporting hardware anymore than necessary. And as rightly pointed out, if Apple were to do that, they would be accused of planned obsolescence, and treating their customers badly and exploiting them etc.

    What will it happen to the (current) 4.5M Pixel 2 users, that dished out 800+$ today for a phone that will be phased out in 2-3 years time? To whom will they resell their obsoleted Pixel 2?
    chiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 51
    "These simple settings enable older devices to remain useful even while running more advanced software releases that only appeared as much as half a decade after the hardware was introduced.”

    Half a decade - why not just say 5 years? Is it to try to make it sound longer?

  • Reply 9 of 51
    alandailalandail Posts: 671member
    who wants to bet that this story doesn't remotely get the kind of negative attention Apple got when they fixed their phones so they don't turn off unexpectedly?
    edited March 8 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 51
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 362member
    applejeff said:
    "These simple settings enable older devices to remain useful even while running more advanced software releases that only appeared as much as half a decade after the hardware was introduced.”

    Half a decade - why not just say 5 years? Is it to try to make it sound longer?

    How can 1/2 a decade sound longer? They are equivalent. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 51
    DanielEranDanielEran Posts: 266editor
    gatorguy said:
    Google's upcoming release of the next version of Android OS will abandon support for all Nexus-branded phones and its sole remaining tablet product, Pixel C, ending future updates for products that were sold two years ago. 
    Not entirely accurate as they will still receive monthly security updates. They'll also receive continue to receive updates to the Google core apps. They won't receive the Android P operating system tho as you properly pointed out.  In fairness, and as the author likely knows, this is less impactful on an Android device than it would be on an iDevice not receiving an OS update as Google has increasingly separated new features announced with new OS versions as well as current security updates from needing a full OS update to receive them.

    Of course it would still be better to receive the full OS, advantage Apple here to no surprise. The rumors of Google creating their own chips could certainly be due in part to Qualcomm and their reported lack of ongoing support for older processors.
    It is entirely acccurate because software patches (if Google actually maintains them; it has a history of forgetting about hardware it sold that has serious security flaws) are not “future updates of products.”

    We've been hearing about Google potentially building its own chips, but how will it fund such a massive undertaking when it can barely sell 4.5m Pixel phones across two years, and can’t sell tablet despite a decade of trying?

    Pull some magic answer out of your butt because there’s no rational answer in the real world. 
    edited March 8 seanismorrisradarthekatStrangeDayschiamacxpresswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 51
    Good article, Daniel.

    I think it is clear that Apple delivers a better product in many or all aspects. Support for 5 years on a premium phone that works well seems fair and good business. 

    As for Google and the chip makers, it’s not good business in the long run and it will catch up to them; though, the Plunder and Pillage mentality that many businesses have has been around forever. It is unfortunate that some people live their lives like that. 

    I am glad I have a choice in which phone I can buy. It will be Apple. 

    Thanks again. 
    Well said.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 51
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,022member
    Do any of you think there will be a huge up roar from the android community and will the FTC and various state and world government initiate plan obsolescent investigation into Google and QCOM as it was done to Apple who simple throttle the phone processor under low power situation to allow users to get longer life out of the phones.

    Folk, this buy all definition is plan obsolescent, this is the only way the Android world can continue selling more phones, they can not afford for consumers to hang on to a phone more than 2 or so years. Phones are now in the good enough phase for most users so they will not go out and buy a new phone to get a new feature. Apple extending the life of phone just allows them to expend their installed base since phones get handed down or sold to be use again. Most Android phones end up in recycle centers, if an android user does not upgrade and those who want a better experience more to iOS, this means Android manufactures end up selling less phones.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 51
    croprcropr Posts: 726member
    gatorguy said:
    Google's upcoming release of the next version of Android OS will abandon support for all Nexus-branded phones and its sole remaining tablet product, Pixel C, ending future updates for products that were sold two years ago. 
    Not entirely accurate as they will still receive monthly security updates. They'll also receive continue to receive updates to the Google core apps. They won't receive the Android P operating system tho as you properly pointed out.  In fairness, and as the author likely knows, this is less impactful on an Android device than it would be on an iDevice not receiving an OS update as Google has increasingly separated new features announced with new OS versions as well as current security updates from needing a full OS update to receive them.

    Of course it would still be better to receive the full OS, advantage Apple here to no surprise. The rumors of Google creating their own chips could certainly be due in part to Qualcomm and their reported lack of ongoing support for older processors.
    Just to make things clear.

    1) The Nexus 5X, 6P and the Pixel C will receive security updates for another year.

    2) Standard apps (Contacts, Agenda, Browsing engine, ...) are getting updates with the Play Services and not as part of the Android updates, which is different from the iOS world where everything is updated as part of a new version of iOS.   The impacted devices will keep getting Play Services updates.

    Point 2 is nice, but the 1 year of point 1 is not long enough in my opinion.
  • Reply 15 of 51
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,264member
    pakitt said:
    The fact that Google itself doesn't support its own phones for more than 2 years with new OS releases, means simply that if you want the latest in software, you need to dish out money every 2 years.
    Actually it's three years guaranteed now, with additional years of security updates. The new Pixels also come with a two year warranty. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 16 of 51
    DanielEranDanielEran Posts: 266editor
    cropr said:
    Just to make things clear.

    1) The Nexus 5X, 6P and the Pixel C will receive security updates for another year.

    2) Standard apps (Contacts, Agenda, Browsing engine, ...) are getting updates with the Play Services and not as part of the Android updates, which is different from the iOS world where everything is updated as part of a new version of iOS.   The impacted devices will keep getting Play Services updates.

    Point 2 is nice, but the 1 year of point 1 is not long enough in my opinion.
    If Microsoft dropped upcoming Windows support for its own two-year-old Surface PCs and said, "hey folks it's okay you can still update your Windows apps and occasionally get updates to the services that make us money: Explorer, our app market, and our other inititives," would anyone really be needing to make excuses for why it was okay to abandon those machines? 

    Microsoft didn't even ditch is poor selling, flop Surface RT systems as quickly as Google is throwing its Nexus & Pixel C customers to the curb. Nexus was supposedly a real installed base of users. 

    The fact that APPLEInsider has a half dozen apologists like yourself posting daily spin on why Google's atrocious behavior is fine and okay and acceptable (and not just its shoddy support for third-party Androids, but even its suposed "in-house, designed by Google, pure Android" products) really tells you something. You guys are like russian troll bot farms with hours of time to excuse Google. 

    You're all so transparently phony: Cropr, Gatorguy, ad nauseam.
    radarthekatStrangeDaysjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 51
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,496member
    Compulsory

    open always wins.


  • Reply 18 of 51
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,325member

    We've been hearing about Google potentially building its own chips, but how will it fund such a massive undertaking when it can barely sell 4.5m Pixel phones across two years, and can’t sell tablet despite a decade of trying? Pull some magic answer out of your butt because there’s no rational answer in the real world.
    Are you suggesting that Google's relative lack of success in hardware means they're short of cash?  Because that seems a rather flawed line of argument.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 51
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,264member

    You're all so transparently phony: Cropr, Gatorguy, ad nauseam.
    Phony?? :/ IIRC you've rarely successfully disputed anything I've said as being factually wrong. Insulting me doesn't count.

    Your opinion as always is noted, no intention of getting into a war of words with the master. 
    edited March 8 muthuk_vanalingamjony0
  • Reply 20 of 51
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,325member
    cropr said:
    Just to make things clear.

    1) The Nexus 5X, 6P and the Pixel C will receive security updates for another year.

    2) Standard apps (Contacts, Agenda, Browsing engine, ...) are getting updates with the Play Services and not as part of the Android updates, which is different from the iOS world where everything is updated as part of a new version of iOS.   The impacted devices will keep getting Play Services updates.

    Point 2 is nice, but the 1 year of point 1 is not long enough in my opinion.
    If Microsoft dropped upcoming Windows support for its own two-year-old Surface PCs and said, "hey folks it's okay you can still update your Windows apps and occasionally get updates to the services that make us money: Explorer, our app market, and our other inititives," would anyone really be needing to make excuses for why it was okay to abandon those machines? 

    Microsoft didn't even ditch is poor selling, flop Surface RT systems as quickly as Google is throwing its Nexus & Pixel C customers to the curb. Nexus was supposedly a real installed base of users. 

    The fact that APPLEInsider has a half dozen apologists like yourself posting daily spin on why Google's atrocious behavior is fine and okay and acceptable (and not just its shoddy support for third-party Androids, but even its suposed "in-house, designed by Google, pure Android" products) really tells you something. You guys are like russian troll bot farms with hours of time to excuse Google. 

    You're all so transparently phony: Cropr, Gatorguy, ad nauseam.
    The original iPad was released in January 2010.  The most recent iOS update for that iPad was iOS 5.1.1 released in May 2012.   2 years 4 months, about the same age as the Pixel C.

    Was the original iPad "supposedly a real installed base of users"?
    gatorguymuthuk_vanalingam
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