Earlier today, the Pixel 3a series got its last explicitly guaranteed update. When asked for comment regarding the expiring software commitment for the Pixel 3a series, a Google spokesperson provided Android Police with the following statement: “In May 2019 at the launch of the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, we announced that the devices would receive three years of software updates and three years of security updates from when our devices first became available on the Google Store. The final update for Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL will rollout to users by July 2022.”
The Pixel 3a is one of Google’s best-selling smartphones. Readers and reviewers praised it, as well as the larger Pixel 3a XL, for providing an excellent software experience and camera at an affordable price. Unfortunately for the many owners who still have them, the 2019-era mid-rangers have been officially abandoned. With one exception, Google’s three-year update promise turns pumpkin this month, signalling the end of software updates. According to Google, the final update will be available in July.
It’s a perfect storm for bugs, so Google does one last wrap-up update around two months after the software update window ends, delivering a bunch of final fixes for the new issues after they’ve had a little extra time to stew. And that’s what’s been promised: The Pixel 3a series is getting one last bug-fixing update “by July 2022,” Google tells us. That language could technically mean any time between now and the end of July, but it more likely means a final update at the expected time at the beginning of July — or it has for end-of-life devices so far.
This isn’t unusual; it’s actually the format Google typically follows for end-of-life devices now. When the standard three-year software update commitment ends for flagship Pixels, the fall date usually (and unfortunately) lines up very closely with the Android release schedule, meaning they get left behind just as a new release is landing. Pixels get the same promise for security patches as OS updates, meaning they get updated to this a brand new version basically as support is ending.
This marks the end of an era for the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, two of the most-loved phones among the Android Police staff. They weren’t the fastest phone you could get in 2019, and they didn’t have the biggest or smoothest screens, wireless charging, very much RAM/storage, or even IP ratings, but they were an incredible value here in the US, where we don’t often get to enjoy the sorts of crazy-cheap phones some other markets have. The 3a was so good, it won our 2019 Most Wanted accolade for Smartphone of the Year. Android Police’s Jules Wang recently called it “the living legacy of Google’s phone lineage,” and many have compared the a-series and its first entry to the Nexus line reborn. And now, only a few months stand between the Pixel 3a and software obsolescence.
A final update two months after reaching the end of software support has been standard for Pixels for a while. The only oddity is that the Pixel 3a was released in the spring, not the fall, as all Pixels prior to it were. If history is any indicator, the final update will be running the current Quarterly Platform Release (Android 12 QPR2), a then-dated May 2022 security patch level, and it won’t get most of the upcoming June feature drop changes — think final bug fixes, not new features.