What is this bullsh*t, Google? Nexus phones starved of security fixes after just three years

That's one way to boost new handset sales


Google has published timelines for when it will kill off security patches for its Nexus-branded Android line.

In a quiet update just before the weekend, the Chocolate Factory revealed both the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 will no longer receive guaranteed security updates as of October of this year. The Nexus 6P and 5X will stop getting guaranteed security patches in September 2018.

While Google has previously given the dates for when it will end guaranteed Android operating system updates for the Nexus devices, its latest table adds a column for when security patches will no longer be guaranteed.

We at El Reg have decided to add a third column to Google's big data showing the year the doomed Nexus devices hit the market. It is very telling.

Device Released End of guaranteed Android updates End of guaranteed security updates
Nexus 6P September 2015 September 2017 September 2018
Nexus 5X October 2015 September 2017 September 2018
Nexus 9 November 2014 October 2016 October 2017
Nexus 6 November 2014 October 2016 October 2017
Nexus 5 October 2013 October 2015 October 2016
Nexus 7  (2013) July 2013 July 2015 August 2016
Nexus 4 November 2012 November 2015 November 2015
Nexus 10 November 2012 November 2014 November 2015
Nexus 7  (2012) July 2012 June 2014 June 2015

As the table shows, Google gives customers two years of Android update support and just three years of security patch support – at best. After that, your gadget is fair game to any vulnerabilities found in the software because you'll have no guarantee of any security bug fixes.

In short, your Nexus device is considered on its last legs two years after hitting the market, and by year three Google doesn't even see it as worthy of regular security patches. If you bought your Nexus a more than a year after its initial release, you won't even have security patch support through the duration of a two-year carrier contract.

By contrast, rival Apple still maintains security update support for the iPhone 5 handset and iPad 4 tablet released in 2012. Cupertino, of course, enjoys the advantage of building both the hardware and software and only releases one new model per year, making extended support far easier to maintain.

How old are most Android devices? According to NetMarketShare, around a quarter of Android devices run either Android 4.4 (released in 2013) or Android 5.1 (released in 2015).

On the other hand, Google's Nexus line tends to appeal to the early adopter crowd who purchase new handsets more often, so it may be less of an issue for Nexus owners than for other Android buyers.

Similarly, Google's Pixel and Pixel XL phones, launched in October 2016, will stop getting guaranteed Android updates from October 2018 and security fixes a year later. ®


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