The November update for Pixel and Nexus devices have just rolled out and the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P phones have received those as well. While that is normally good news, the update belies some rather sad news. Unless something terribly wrong requires an immediate fix, this is probably the last update the two phones will ever receive officially. And with the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P reaching their end of life, so too ends the line of Google’s Nexus devices.
To be honest, the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P hardly had notable legacies. Not unless you consider troubled histories as notable. The Nexus 5X was beset by the same bootloop problems that plagued some of LG’s handsets. On the other hand, the Nexus 6P, the first and only Nexus phone made by Huawei, was prone to shutting down or also getting stuck in a bootloop, attributed to problems related to its Snapdragon 810 processor. Things have gotten so out of hand that Google, Huawei, and LG have been slapped with class action lawsuits because of those issues.
That said, the too still represented an era now gone, the Nexus era. These were the phones Google promoted as role models of how Android should be. They shipped with pure Android, no bloatware included. They were hackable, flashable, and were a favorite among Android hackers and developers because of that.
They were, however, also quirky and not exactly popular. They represented what Google wanted which didn’t always match with what the market demanded. They didn’t exactly have inspiring appearances, even when OEMs like LG, Motorola, or Huawei had a say in their design. They lacked microSD cards and replaceable batteries years before it would be OK to ditch them. They served a niche market that manufacturers might have looked at them more as a burden rather than an honor.
For better or worse, that’s all in the past now. And some might say for the better. Despite some high-profile problems, the Google Pixel phones, designed and by Google itself, have largely been successful. It wasn’t a niche product only a few enjoyed and Google found its calling smartphone photography. Its design arguably has character and some might say it’s the most iconic Google phone yet since the well-loved Nexus 5.
There are some, however, who still look back to the Nexus days as the better days, at least in terms of hackability and openness. Technically, the Pixel phones are just as open, albeit perhaps a little less than some would like. They have exclusive features that are not easy to port to other phones even if not hardware-dependent. And most of all, they cost as much as the most expensive Android phone in the market while the Nexus phones were made to be accessible to everyone. Perhaps that why OEMs wrote them off as losses.
Still, some say there’s no stopping progress and the age of the Nexus is over. The age of the Pixel is here. And, perhaps, the dawn of a less Android-centric Google phone.