17 votes

Google is forcing me to dump a perfectly good phone

37 comments

  1. [16]
    Wes
    Link
    I've used a Nexus 7 until just recently. It released in 2013. Is it really that dangerous to use a device out of its update period? I've seen very little Android malware that isn't caused from...

    But I have to get rid of it because Google has stopped supporting all Pixel 3s. Despite being just three years old, no Pixel 3 will ever receive another official security update.

    I've used a Nexus 7 until just recently. It released in 2013. Is it really that dangerous to use a device out of its update period? I've seen very little Android malware that isn't caused from installing malicious APKs. I've certainly never had a problem with it myself.

    I don't disagree with the thrust of the argument (devices should be supported longer), but the title and claim here seem a little hyperbolic. Use the phone until it stops working, or use an updated custom rom, or treat it as a consumption device and avoid putting your banking information on there. The idea of recycling hardware the moment it crosses an invisible dateline just seems incredibly wasteful.

    14 votes
    1. [7]
      Don_Camillo
      Link Parent
      Exactly, especially as google phones get reeeeally good custom rom support, and as google does not lock down the bootloader, as seemingly everybody else started doing the last year, an easy task...

      Exactly, especially as google phones get reeeeally good custom rom support, and as google does not lock down the bootloader, as seemingly everybody else started doing the last year, an easy task to do for anybody who is not tech iliterate.
      it's actually a reason I just got a second hand pixel 3. so i can get finally some out of the box and long term support for lineageOS.

      9 votes
      1. [2]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        That’s something like 99% of the population. Most people are not even aware of the existence of custom Android ROMs. And even if they are they will see the big warnings that they could brick their...

        an easy task to do for anybody who is not tech iliterate.

        That’s something like 99% of the population. Most people are not even aware of the existence of custom Android ROMs. And even if they are they will see the big warnings that they could brick their phones and think to themselves that it’s simply not worth it. As someone who actually is tech literate the tools and processes you need to go through are alien enough that the first time you do it that it feels very scary because you have no experience with any of the tools or software required to do it.

        Beyond that, custom ROMs are not a panacea for bad support from the manufacturers. If you have a high end phone like a Galaxy S# or a Pixel, you might be lucky and have great support in something like LineageOS. But if your phone is something cheap that nobody cares about then you would be lucky if someone bothered to do the work and published their own custom ROM, which I would still consider to be “unsupported”.

        11 votes
        1. Don_Camillo
          Link Parent
          oh, don't get me wrong. I see it exactly as you do. and I hate it. right to repair, official 10 year support, open bootloaders or better, open platforms as we have with desktop computers and easy...

          oh, don't get me wrong. I see it exactly as you do. and I hate it. right to repair, official 10 year support, open bootloaders or better, open platforms as we have with desktop computers and easy tooling should be the norm.

          I was for years and years in the cheap phone hell that's not really custom rom supported.

          I'm on lineage not for support but for ideological reasons. (and for the ring-battery indicator :-) )

          1 vote
      2. [4]
        babypuncher
        Link Parent
        Google locks out a lot of security related features when you use a custom ROM. Things like NFC payments and some banking apps will stop working.

        Google locks out a lot of security related features when you use a custom ROM. Things like NFC payments and some banking apps will stop working.

        8 votes
        1. Akir
          Link Parent
          IIRC it also affects DRM and will prevent you from watching streaming services at the higher quality levels.

          IIRC it also affects DRM and will prevent you from watching streaming services at the higher quality levels.

          4 votes
        2. pallas
          Link Parent
          So far, this can still be worked around in many cases. My Pixel 2XL with universal-safetynet-fix is still mostly working: Google Pay works, and most banking apps work, though one notes that I'm...

          So far, this can still be worked around in many cases. My Pixel 2XL with universal-safetynet-fix is still mostly working: Google Pay works, and most banking apps work, though one notes that I'm rooted and that they don't recommend this, and one doesn't have working biometrics. But this will stop if Google decides to start enforcing hardware attestation with no exceptions, instead of allowing fallbacks that workarounds can trick it into using. It's unfortunate, because it means that the checks are trying to enforce my using a less updated Android.

          When Google changes this, I will be forced into getting a new phone rather than my perfectly functional one, and it probably won't be from Google again, despite my having purchased from them for years. I'd likely buy a Fairphone 4 now, if it didn't have a ridiculous lead time.

          4 votes
        3. Don_Camillo
          Link Parent
          thank you. i did not know this. it does not affect me, as banking on my phone gives me nightmares and watching anything longer than 5 minutes on my phone headaches :-) to be honest my next phone...

          thank you. i did not know this. it does not affect me, as banking on my phone gives me nightmares and watching anything longer than 5 minutes on my phone headaches :-)

          to be honest my next phone will be a pinephone with postmarketOS, it was still to expensive and unstable to get it this year, but i'm shure that and my financial situation will change soon :-)

          1 vote
    2. TheJorro
      Link Parent
      I just upgraded from the original Pixel myself, I suppose it hasn't received security updates in a long time as well. But I upgraded because the thing was finally showing its age and its inability...

      I just upgraded from the original Pixel myself, I suppose it hasn't received security updates in a long time as well. But I upgraded because the thing was finally showing its age and its inability to handle things well when driving was what pushed me over to finally upgrade, not a perception of lack of safety.

      Modding the Pixel was easier than most other phones in my experience so if I wanted to go that route, it would not have been a problem at all.

      This definitely feels hyperbolic.

      4 votes
    3. [5]
      FlippantGod
      Link Parent
      The claim about security is just silly. Pixel devices are great for custom roms, especially Graphene OS, which is noted for its focus on privacy and security for pixel phones. I have to assume the...

      The claim about security is just silly. Pixel devices are great for custom roms, especially Graphene OS, which is noted for its focus on privacy and security for pixel phones.

      I have to assume the author has simply no idea that multinational companies are not required to maintain devices.

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        babypuncher
        Link Parent
        Most people aren't going to install a custom ROM. And doing so means sacrificing some features, like NFC payments. I really dislike this attitude of giving these enormous companies a pass because...

        Most people aren't going to install a custom ROM. And doing so means sacrificing some features, like NFC payments. I really dislike this attitude of giving these enormous companies a pass because the open source community manages to provide a mostly viable solution to keeping these devices usable beyond their 18 month product lifecycle.

        7 votes
        1. skybrian
          Link Parent
          They wouldn’t on their primary phone, but I think there is some hope for getting people to try experimental stuff on their old phones after they get new ones? This gets around the “not everything...

          They wouldn’t on their primary phone, but I think there is some hope for getting people to try experimental stuff on their old phones after they get new ones? This gets around the “not everything works” problem. It doesn’t have to do everything as long as it does one thing really well.

          The question is what would be awesome enough to get the kids to try it.

          I see this as an opportunity for some organization in the open source ecosystem. An alternative to the Google/Apple duopoly isn’t going to start out doing everything as well as them.

        2. FlippantGod
          Link Parent
          The author is talking about being forced to recycle a functioning phone, which simply isn't true.

          The author is talking about being forced to recycle a functioning phone, which simply isn't true.

      2. pallas
        Link Parent
        Graphene OS cuts support for devices around the same time that Google does. They've already cut Pixel 2 and 2XL entirely, and 3 and 3XL are unsupported and don't receive security updates: the FAQ...

        Graphene OS cuts support for devices around the same time that Google does. They've already cut Pixel 2 and 2XL entirely, and 3 and 3XL are unsupported and don't receive security updates: the FAQ says they'll soon be dropped entirely, and are only there so users can buy new phones (and presumably throw out the old one).

        6 votes
    4. [2]
      SunriseMojo
      Link Parent
      That's the way to do it. I still run a Nexus 6 and an iPhone 5s. Just swap out the batteries every five years and they are good as new (almost).

      That's the way to do it. I still run a Nexus 6 and an iPhone 5s.

      Just swap out the batteries every five years and they are good as new (almost).

      1. nobody
        Link Parent
        Good luck with finding an OEM and/or fresh battery after five years.

        Good luck with finding an OEM and/or fresh battery after five years.

  2. river
    Link
    This is terrible for the planet/environment.

    This is terrible for the planet/environment.

    5 votes
  3. [20]
    knocklessmonster
    (edited )
    Link
    I guess my question about iPhones would be this one: If I managed to keep my iPhone from breaking for four or five years, would the firmware screw it over? That's been an issue. I was pricing...

    I guess my question about iPhones would be this one: If I managed to keep my iPhone from breaking for four or five years, would the firmware screw it over? That's been an issue. I was pricing phones and considering the possibility of switching to iPhone, even if I'm not likely to.

    This article points out the major weakness of many companies in the Android ecosystem, but many vendors are better than Google: Samsung and OnePlus come to mind.

    EDIT: As mentioned Google is pushing a 5-year support timeframe, but unfortunately OnePlus has only committed to 4, so RIP my 6t in November, unless I get LineageOS on it.

    1 vote
    1. [9]
      simplify
      Link Parent
      I have an iPhone 7 that I've been using since I purchased it new in 2016. I've never had a case or a screen protector on it, and I have one noticeable scratch on just the screen. I'm considering...

      I have an iPhone 7 that I've been using since I purchased it new in 2016. I've never had a case or a screen protector on it, and I have one noticeable scratch on just the screen. I'm considering replacing the battery because it's at 78% health, but very rarely do I ever run it out in a day so I probably won't bother. It's running the latest iOS 15.3 like a champ, it feels snappy, responsive, and like new. Some days I think about upgrading, but I have no real reason to so I just stuff those feelings down and ignore them for the consumerist desire that they are. I'll most likely just hold out until Apple finally stops supporting it or the battery actually stops being reliable. It's been a tremendous phone. My next phone will be an iPhone, no question. I buy them full price from Apple and use an inexpensive pre-paid mobile plan, currently T-Mobile with unlimited talk/text and 2.5GB of data for $15 a month.

      7 votes
      1. [8]
        knocklessmonster
        Link Parent
        I'm there with my OnePlus 6T. I paid $650 for it, and am determined to not do that again soon. What T-Mobile plan do you have, because as far as I was aware, they didn't have anything like that. I...

        Some days I think about upgrading, but I have no real reason to so I just stuff those feelings down and ignore them for the consumerist desire that they are.

        I'm there with my OnePlus 6T. I paid $650 for it, and am determined to not do that again soon. What T-Mobile plan do you have, because as far as I was aware, they didn't have anything like that. I wound up switching to Ting to save on my phone bill.

        1. [7]
          simplify
          Link Parent
          Here's a link to T-Mobile's prepaid plans. It's right there on the initial banner. I actually think it's a newer plan. For a long time I was paying $40 a month with T-Mo for a similar plan, but...

          Here's a link to T-Mobile's prepaid plans. It's right there on the initial banner. I actually think it's a newer plan. For a long time I was paying $40 a month with T-Mo for a similar plan, but once they announced the $15 plan I "downgraded." They also say they'll be adding an additional .5GB of data every year through 2025 to that plan at the same price. My guess is they're doing it to compete with all the MVNOs like Ting. I almost switched from T-Mo to an MVNO, but this $15 plan kept me with them.

          1. [6]
            knocklessmonster
            Link Parent
            I think they are competing with Ting. I can get a 5GB plan from Ting for $25, and T-Mobile has 5.5GB.

            I think they are competing with Ting. I can get a 5GB plan from Ting for $25, and T-Mobile has 5.5GB.

            1. [5]
              simplify
              Link Parent
              It's a smart move. Like I said, it kept me with them. I imagine the major carriers have been leaking customers for no reason other than their prices are stupid and greedy. If an MVNO can buy up...

              It's a smart move. Like I said, it kept me with them. I imagine the major carriers have been leaking customers for no reason other than their prices are stupid and greedy. If an MVNO can buy up network bandwidth in bulk and resell it, why can't a major carrier just sell at the same price and keep the customer? I don't know if AT&T or Verizon have caught on yet, but I'm happy T-Mo has done this. I really don't use my phone very much and this is the perfect plan for me at a price I'm happy to pay.

              1. [4]
                monarda
                Link Parent
                I've been a T-Mobile prepay customer for at least 15 years, usually at the lower tiers, but have been thinking of switching to Mint Mobile. As a T-mobile prepay customer, I am charged for sending...

                I've been a T-Mobile prepay customer for at least 15 years, usually at the lower tiers, but have been thinking of switching to Mint Mobile. As a T-mobile prepay customer, I am charged for sending or receiving photos even when I have data, which whittles away at my balance. It took me years to notice it, and when I did, I called customer service wondering why the heck I was going through my balance so quickly and that's when I found out that I was getting charged for the photos. I can prepay Mint Mobile $15 per month 4g data, and I don't get charged for photos. The only reason I may not change carriers is I live in a somewhat cell reception dead area, and barely get t-mobile as it is.

                It wasn't until I was looking to change carriers that I saw T-Mobile is now offering a $15 plan. I had "upgraded" a few years ago to unlimited calls/texts and 1g of data for $25.

                1 vote
                1. [3]
                  simplify
                  Link Parent
                  You must be on some old plan if you're getting charged for sending photos. That should just simply be included in the data. Perhaps if you just login to your account and switch to the new $15...

                  You must be on some old plan if you're getting charged for sending photos. That should just simply be included in the data. Perhaps if you just login to your account and switch to the new $15 plan, that would all go away. I've been with T-Mo on prepaid for about 7 years at this point, I've been on this $15 plan for 4 months, and I've never had a problem with wonky billing. The only problem I do have is that their website dashboard kind of sucks and I don't get great reception in some areas around where I live. At home I don't really care about reception, because this $15 plan also includes wifi calling. When I'm out, I'm not really attached to my phone. I generally just use it for streaming music in the car.

                  2 votes
                  1. [2]
                    monarda
                    Link Parent
                    I'll give it a go when my next billing cycle comes around. I've been stewing about this far too long!

                    I'll give it a go when my next billing cycle comes around. I've been stewing about this far too long!

                    1. simplify
                      Link Parent
                      If you wanna nip it in the bud sooner, I switched plans in the middle of my billing cycle and it just slated the plan change to happen at the next charge automatically. I thought maybe it would...

                      If you wanna nip it in the bud sooner, I switched plans in the middle of my billing cycle and it just slated the plan change to happen at the next charge automatically. I thought maybe it would prorate it or something, but nope. The switch was seamless except for two things... I used to get a text message when my plan renewed every month, and now I don't. No text, no email, and when I login to my account I can't find any option to message me when I get charged. It's annoying, but I'll live. The second thing was I had to reconfigure autopay. Easy enough.

                      1 vote
    2. [9]
      cutchyacokov
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I really hate Apple but in this way they have been industry leading since the beginning. I believe every single iPhone has been supported at least 5 years. Having said that Google is promising 5...

      I really hate Apple but in this way they have been industry leading since the beginning. I believe every single iPhone has been supported at least 5 years. Having said that Google is promising 5 years on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, so that difference may no longer be so meaningful. Not that I like Google either. Personally I'm just not using a mobile (online, I do using my Pixel 1 as a portable media player) until the Pinephone matures into a proper daily driver.

      edit: Apple has previously crippled the performance on updates 3 or 4 years in, in the name of "protecting the battery." There was a lot of push-back when they first did it, I'm not sure if they managed to normalize this practice or gave it up due to the bad press.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        stu2b50
        Link Parent
        That was legitimate, and is still a default option on iPhones. Although they fibbed a bit on the severity - on the iPhone 6s there was a hardware issue where as the battery degradated it was...

        Apple has previously crippled the performance on updates 3 or 4 years in, in the name of "protecting the battery."

        That was legitimate, and is still a default option on iPhones. Although they fibbed a bit on the severity - on the iPhone 6s there was a hardware issue where as the battery degradated it was possible for the phone to try and draw too much power and entirely crash.

        Hence the very immediate silent solution of throttling the processor if there was battery degradation detected to levels where it would keep power draws below the point where the phone would crash.

        On models since the behavior is more gracious, but the setting still exists so that you may preserve your initial battery life in return for less performance if you so wish.

        4 votes
        1. knocklessmonster
          Link Parent
          Being in the largely anti-Apple camps I'd only ever seen the reactionary response (usually "aPpLe Is DeStRoYiNg YoUr PhOnE" types), but that makes a fair amount of sense, especially if it's an option.

          Being in the largely anti-Apple camps I'd only ever seen the reactionary response (usually "aPpLe Is DeStRoYiNg YoUr PhOnE" types), but that makes a fair amount of sense, especially if it's an option.

          2 votes
      2. [4]
        babypuncher
        Link Parent
        You are misunderstanding what was happening here. Li-ion cells degrade over time. This is unavoidable. As some of them die, the maximum current that can be drawn from the battery pack is reduced....

        Apple has previously crippled the performance on updates 3 or 4 years in, in the name of "protecting the battery."

        You are misunderstanding what was happening here. Li-ion cells degrade over time. This is unavoidable. As some of them die, the maximum current that can be drawn from the battery pack is reduced. The device firmware has to account for this, to prevent bad things from happening. The old way of dealing with this was to just shut the phone down when too much current is drawn. The new way of doing things, that Apple caught a lot of flak for, is to more aggressively power limit the SoC so that the device can continue operating "normally, but slower" as the cells continue to degrade.

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          cutchyacokov
          Link Parent
          I could have presented my thoughts on that issue better. They are more nuanced than I made them seem. I was mostly going off my memory of the reaction to this at the time. Having said all that I...

          I could have presented my thoughts on that issue better. They are more nuanced than I made them seem. I was mostly going off my memory of the reaction to this at the time. Having said all that I believe that measure is still entirely unprecedented outside of Apple. Many devices have similar Li-ion batteries, they all degrade, yet this is the only example I'm aware of in which a company unilaterally decided to underclock/undervolt it's product via an update late in it's product cycle in order to prolong battery life. It's an incredibly Apple thing to do, whether mostly good or mostly bad, and it really isn't as simple as "this was necessary to preserve the life of the batteries in these devices" because the wear level on the batteries would vary wildly depending upon how they were used and how they were charged and the temperatures they were exposed to.

          Maybe it was the best choice for most owners of that model at that time. Maybe that was arguably the case but Apple overdid it a bit in order to "encourage" more of their customers to upgrade. We both know that there is no way in hell Apple will ever release all of the data that they used to make this decision (if it was even that nuanced, Apple actively tries to promote a mystique around themselves that make customers believe there is far more to their tech and design choices than I think there really is in many cases, but that's almost an entirely different discussion).

          If I owned an iPhone of this generation I would have used it so sparingly and would have been so careful with the battery that it would likely have been nearly as good as the first day I bought it when I would have installed this update. Given the kind of user I am, I might have been fine with the loss of performance but, also being the kind of person I am, I definitely would have been upset that I was not given a choice.

          1 vote
          1. babypuncher
            Link Parent
            iPhone batteries have a chip in them that monitors cell health. They are used to determine when to limit current draw and by how much. Apple wasn't undervolting all devices over a certain age....

            because the wear level on the batteries would vary wildly depending upon how they were used and how they were charged and the temperatures they were exposed to.

            iPhone batteries have a chip in them that monitors cell health. They are used to determine when to limit current draw and by how much. Apple wasn't undervolting all devices over a certain age. This is why replacing the battery in a 6S would "fix" the performance issues.

            Apple's crime here was not informing the user as to why their phone was running slow until they contacted support. Since then, they have exposed the battery health metrics to the user through the settings app, and implemented notifications to warn users when their battery has degraded to a point where performance is being impacted.

            5 votes
          2. Weldawadyathink
            Link Parent
            As @babypuncher said, apple definitely needed to tell their users. They do now, so that part has been addressed. The alternative to this is what android manufacturers do: keep using the battery as...

            As @babypuncher said, apple definitely needed to tell their users. They do now, so that part has been addressed.

            The alternative to this is what android manufacturers do: keep using the battery as if it were new, and the phone randomly shuts down. On older android phones, it will just turn off at somewhere below 20%. My sister has a Samsung with a terrible battery and it sometimes shuts down in the 40-50% range. Is that a preferable user experience?

            1 vote
      3. [2]
        hamstergeddon
        Link Parent
        I could've swore Apple added an option to choose between battery life and CPU, but I'm not seeing it on my phone. There's a "Peak Performance Capability" option (or at least a section styled like...

        I'm not sure if they managed to normalize this practice or gave it up due to the bad press.

        I could've swore Apple added an option to choose between battery life and CPU, but I'm not seeing it on my phone. There's a "Peak Performance Capability" option (or at least a section styled like an option), but no toggle to turn it on/off, so I'm wondering if maybe it isn't available until the battery reaches a certain % of battery life. Probably no sense in adding a "slow down my iphone" button until you need to choose between that and battery life.

        1 vote
        1. Akir
          Link Parent
          It basically is. It won't give you the option unless it actually affects you.

          I'm wondering if maybe it isn't available until the battery reaches a certain % of battery life.

          It basically is. It won't give you the option unless it actually affects you.

          2 votes
    3. Weldawadyathink
      Link Parent
      Apple has been accused of slowing down old phones with new software. In reality, new operating systems, with more features, are heavier to run. So there is some truth to the accusation, but I...

      Apple has been accused of slowing down old phones with new software. In reality, new operating systems, with more features, are heavier to run. So there is some truth to the accusation, but I don’t believe it is malicious.

      As a counterpoint, iOS 14 and 15 seem to be really good for old devices. Using an old iPhone was actually the impetus for me switching to apple. I tried my grandfather’s old iPhone 6s+, 5 years old at the time. The battery was absolutely shot, but that is fixable. The performance in day to day usage, however, was consistently better than my Galaxy s10e, around a year old at the time.

      1 vote