[Poll results live] Google Pixel 6's 5 years of software support calls for a good battery replacement program

New updates are being added to the bottom of the story…

Original story (from Oct 17) follows:

Google will unveil the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro on October 19. These two are unique in a number of ways, but perhaps the major one is the in-house Tensor chip.

With the Tensor running the show, the Pixel 6 duo is the first in a long line of Google Pixel and Nexus phones that has an in-house chipset and not a Snapdragon SoC. As you can see, Qualcomm isn’t happy about it.

Another standout feature of the Pixel 6 will be software support. Of course, Google phones have always been among the best when it comes to longer software support, but Samsung had recently taken over this mantle.

A while ago, the South Korean company announced a switch to 4 years of software support that includes up to 3 Android OS upgrades for the Galaxy S, Note, Foldable, and select A series phones.

With this move, Google was ejected from the top seat in terms of longer software support for Android devices. However, Samsung’s joy is set to be short-lived, at least if the latest reports are to be believed.

Unless you just came from a cave, unofficial reports doing rounds suggest that Google has plans to offer up to 5 years of software support for those who purchase the upcoming Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro handsets.

Google-Pixel-6-5-years-of-software-updates
(Source)

While this information can only be confirmed after Google makes the Pixel 6 phones official, it’s a good thing to see Google leading the growing support for longer software updates among Android vendors.

Besides Samsung, Oppo recently revealed that some ColorOS users will receive up to 4 years of software updates. Xiaomi also made this change, joining the likes of OnePlus and LG in offering longer software support.

This is what many Android fans have been calling for — that vendors should offer longer software support beyond the 2-year window that has been the norm for years.

No doubt I like the direction of longer software updates that Google is taking. But one concern that quickly pops up is how they’re planning to handle battery life and replacements.

The push for longer software support may come as good news for Android users, but it also has its negative side. Take Apple, for instance.

iPhone 8
iPhone 8 & iPhone 8 Plus

The company provides up to 7 versions of iOS updates, but it has been in trouble before for throttling performance on older iPhones through subsequent updates in order to preserve battery life.

Naturally, each major OS iteration brings new features and enhancements that require more raw power, hence may have a toll on the general performance and battery life of aging phones.

Also, charging smartphone batteries multiple times over a course of 2 or so years has its toll on the general battery health. With a degrading battery, software tweaks that include limiting certain functions can be used to improve life.

Will Google follow in Apple’s footsteps in order to ensure future Google Pixel 6 owners keep a decent battery life years down the line?

Pixel phones get a 2-year warranty for repairs, although there are special cases like the Pixel 4 XL that got an extra year of repair for battery issues.

Usually, the 2-year mark is around the same period that most devices’ battery life begins to deteriorate. And more often than not, it’s at this stage that many opt to replace their aging phone rather than charge it multiple times a day.

Since software support was also limited to 2-3 years, it made the decision of switching to a newer phone that promised a prolonged window of support way much easier. Because why bother replacing the battery yet the phone is no longer supported?

Google-Pixel-6-Pro
Pixel 6 Pro

With the Google Pixel 6 set to receive up to 5 years of software updates, it means device owners have the option to keep them well past the usual 2 years. This also means holding onto a phone that’s no longer under warranty for an extra 3 years.

As noted earlier, it’s during this period that users start experiencing poor battery life on their aging phones, prompting the need for either full phone replacements or simple battery replacements.

With the phone still receiving regular updates, perhaps replacing the battery would be the better choice for units that are still in good shape.

Sure, Google has partnered with UbreakiFix for Pixel battery replacements, but a significant fee will have to be paid for devices out of warranty.

As things stand, free battery replacements are covered in the 2-year warranty period, which was understandable when software support was just 3 years. But with the Pixel 6 getting up to 5 years, Google needs to do more to ensure battery life isn’t badly affected over time.

Google-Pixel-Tensor-chip

Make no mistake. Throttling performance through software updates like Apple did doesn’t cut it, but it’s possible Pixel 6 users will be denied some features down the line for battery life reasons.

Perhaps the most welcome solution would be providing up to 4 years of cover specifically for Pixel 6 battery life issues caused by age. If the Pixel 4 XL got an extra year, so can the Pixel 6. But hey, I don’t make the rules.

Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how Google handles Pixel 6 battery life and replacements in future, but my hope is that there are plans to roll out a much better battery replacement program. Time will tell.

Update 1 (Oct 24)

The results for the poll are out, with an overwhelming majority (over 95%) agreeing that the Google Pixel 6 should indeed get an extended battery repair window to match the longer (5 years) software support.

In case you missed the poll, you can share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Hillary Keverenge

A techy. Besides phones, I also enjoy the farm, music, football, and, of course, food.