Pixel 7A Review: We’re Running Out of Reasons to Splurge on a ‘Pro’ Phone

For most of the last decade, the biggest disadvantage to buying Android phones instead of Apple’s iPhones was that they were short lived. Most Android phones received software updates for roughly two years, at which point they became less safe to use because they lacked security protections against the latest vulnerabilities. In contrast, iPhones got updates for about six years.

Many Android phone makers struggled to keep up with software updates because they relied on chips and components from an array of different manufacturers, and it was difficult to make new operating systems continue to work with all those parts.

So for a long time, spending more on an Android phone made sense. Samsung’s high-end Galaxy smartphones, which cost roughly $700 to $1,000, got software updates for several years longer than other Androids in part because the South Korean manufacturer tightly controlled its hardware production.

But Google recently gained an edge. In 2018, the search giant acquired the handset maker HTC, which allowed it to make its own mobile computing chip, called Tensor. Google now controls its Pixel hardware and the Android software, so it can guarantee software updates for its Tensor-powered Pixel phones for at least five years.

That longer support life — combined with Google’s Tensor making the Pixel phones faster and more efficient in their power use — is a win for consumers.

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