The smartphone market has a very high turnover rate. The commonly established, or at least expected, practice is to support a device for two years after its launch. Of course, that still depends on the OEM and whether said OEM makes an explicit promise. Google just put that promise down on writing when it updated its “end-of-life” support page with an entry for its Google Pixel. Despite being Google’s special smartphone, it isn’t getting any special treatment and is guaranteed only two years’ worth of Android version updates.
Google may or may not have been credited for starting this two-year support period for Android smartphones. That practice started with its Nexus devices and has more or less become customary for other OEM devices as well. In a nutshell, this means that a smartphone is guaranteed to get Android version updates for at most two years. Security updates are usually supported just a bit longer.
That is also going to be true for the Google Pixel and the Pixel XL. According to Google’s support page, those two are guaranteed to receive Android version updates until October 2018, two years after it launched. Security updates, however, are promised to rollout until October 2019. After that, Google is hands off on the devices, at least on writing. They may still provide a surprise update, but, chances are, it won’t.
Two years might be a long time, but, in terms of Android releases, that isn’t really much. It only covers two major Android releases in practice. That means the Pixel will get Android 8 “O” and Android 9 “P”, unless Google makes another confusing Jelly Bean trilogy.
But even when promised, Google has lately been rather inconsistent if not slow on the updates, even for still supported devices like Nexus phones and tablets. Some even criticized Google for making such a promise when, in truth, it can never really guarantee those updates, serving only to keep users’ hopes up. And although the Android community can always pick up where Google left off, the Pixel phones haven’t yet proven to be as mod and hacker friendly as previous Nexus devices.