The start of a new month means it’s time for Google to roll out an Android security patch. November’s patch is more remarkable than usual, thanks to some Pixel 6-specific bug fixes and the cut-off of the three-year-old Pixel 3 hardware.
This release also marks the death of Pixel 3 in Google’s support program. Pixel 3 was launched in October 2018 with one of the biggest screen hack ever and a severe lack of RAM, giving it a lukewarm reception and disappointing sales. While the phone survived long enough to get the big Android 12 update and the October 2021 security patch, October marked the end of the planned three-year updates. Now that November security is here, it’s not rolling out to Pixel 3.
The Pixel 3 hardware is still perfectly functional as its Snapdragon 845 and 4GB of RAM are not far from a brand new $ 300 phone. Google could treat its customers better and reduce the amount of e-waste it puts in the world by extending its support timelines, but it has been reluctant to do so. Even the new Pixel 6, which Google has end-to-end control over, will still be obsolete after three years, though it will continue to receive security updates. We only ask that the $ 900 Google flagship match the support window for a $ 400 budget iPhone.
While Pixel 3 is dying, Pixel 6 has just begun. Pixel 6 owners were given access to the November patch as a Day 1 update, but Google is only now describing what’s in the patch. Last-minute fixes include changes to how automatic brightness works under certain lighting conditions, improvements to Wi-Fi connection stability, and better Bluetooth sound quality in “certain scenarios.” This is not the end of the Pixel 6 fixes either. Google has already said that the December patch will come with a fix for a strange and insignificant bug where users can induce “transient screen artifacts” when the screen is off. We can not replicate this error ourselves, but apparently you can make the screen flicker if you press the right button on the power button – easy enough to trigger the error, but not hard enough to turn on the screen completely. Until the patch rolls out, Google does not recommend doing this.