I review phones for a living — and this Pixel 8 rumor could stop me recommending iPhones

Google Pixel 8 Pro leaked photo
(Image credit: Google via Twitter / Mishaal Rahman)

The Google Pixel 8 was already shaping up to be one of my favorite phones of the year, based on its rumored features so far. But now a new development in the leak-o-sphere is poised to make the new Pixels one of the best phones you can buy.

As leaker Kamila Wojciechowska has it, the new Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro could offer seven years of software updates. These seven years may not include seven full versions of Android, but this would still likely mean Google offers the best forward compatibility of any phone on the market, and be a big improvement on the three years of full updates and five years of security updates that were promised for the Pixel 7 series.

For comparison, Samsung has offered five years of full Android updates for the past few generations of its phones. Meanwhile, Apple's software update window usually runs for five years, too, although it's less formalized and can sometimes be longer or shorter than expected. Both of these companies are the current gold standard for software updates, but it sounds like Google will beat it.

Thinking long-term

I've long said that if I didn't continually have to swap phones for work, I'd buy a Pixel phone for its balance of features and pricing. Having an even longer update schedule would make this buying decision even easier.

Right now, if someone was asking for a new phone that'll last them a long time before needing to upgrade again, I'd recommend an iPhone 15. Not only is Apple generous with software updates, iPhones hold their value far better than other smartphones, meaning more money back at the end when selling or trading-in a phone. While it would take some shifts in the market to make old Pixels as valuable as old iPhones, I'd not hesitate to suggest a Google Pixel to someone wanting a sensible long-term phone purchase if there will indeed be seven years of updates offered.

Big changes between generations of phones have been slowing down, making it easier to hold off on upgrading a handset. Plus, we're seeing a lot of the changes come tied in with software updates, allowing old phones to perform most of the same tasks as one built and sold several years later. Although Android 14 this year has been a fairly conventional update, it's still added new features that bring extra value to any phone, but especially older ones.

More security updates has an obvious benefit — keeping your phone safe from unsavory types who want to run off with your data or other personal details. It's not as exciting as getting new apps or functions unlocked by a full Android update or a Feature Drop, but it's just as important.

Unlike some aspects of the Pixel 8, Google's not spoken openly about software compatibility, so we still have to treat this rumor as a rumor for now. If this leak does get confirmed though, it'll mean that for the typical smartphone user — and especially those looking to save money by slowing down the cadence of their upgrades — the Pixel 8 could become my go-to recommendation. And if I ever hang up my phone reviewer hat, I'd likely take that advice, too.

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Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.