Most people upgrade phones every 2-3 years, a schedule that's often dictated by carrier promotions and on-contract deals. While our readers likely buck that trend, Pixel owners hanging onto the same model for the last 2-3 years are probably considering upgrading. In the case of the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, there's not much choice — it's that or stick with a phone that's less and less secure with each passing month. So is the Pixel 5 a worthy upgrade? For some of our readers, it might be, especially if they waited out the Pixel 4, as we generally recommended.
November officially marks the end of the line for the Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL, as security updates for both phones have halted. The devices are still functional, and you can switch to custom ROMs like LineageOS to keep the security fixes coming, but the hardware is starting to age as well.
This is a strange year for phone releases, especially from Google. Owners of the Pixel 2 have three Pixel phones to choose from, if they want to stick to Google-made phones, and figuring out how they all stack up is a bit complicated. Thankfully, we're here to do all the hard work.
Portrait Light was announced along with the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5. It's one more neat Pixel camera feature that lets you manually control light in portrait pics and adjust face brightness as you see fit, either for a more dramatic and contrasting effect or to balance things out in poorly-lit photos. The feature was said to be coming to older Pixels too, and now it's there on the Pixel 2, 3, and 4.
I admit, I held hope that Google might surprise us with the Pixel 2 and 2 XL. They were only guaranteed updates until this month, but Google was able to bring the original 2016 Pixels Android 10 last year even though they weren't promised to get it. Secretly, I wanted that to be a trial run for the Pixel 2, dreaming that Google might surprise us with an extra year of updates. After all, 2017 wasn't that long ago, and the hardware has the headroom for at least another year or two of updates. But, though the phones commanded a premium $650-750 price tag at launch, they're being left behind.
Google has confirmed to us that the Pixel 2 and 2 XL will get their last update this December. While the October update released today was the last guaranteed by the company's original calendar commitment, we are told that Google is promising one last update that includes a final set of critical fixes, following a trend it set last year with the original 2016 Pixels.
Like clockwork, Google has just released its monthly Pixel updates, delivering both security enhancements as well as bug fixes and other improvements. This month, we have seven changes noted in the so-called "functional patch" notes, including auto-rotation improvements, automatic brightness fixes for the Pixel 4a, a bootloop fix, and a handful of other changes. Sadly, this month also marks the end of the Pixel 2 and 2 XL's stated support lifetime. Google has since confirmed to us that the phones will only get one more update after this in December.
Pixel phones are renowned for stellar photography — when the camera app is workingcorrectly. Pixel 2 owners, in particular, have complained about camera failures for a long time. We reported on it at the start of 2020, in fact. But even though the worst of this year is hopefully behind us, Pixel 2 users are still having camera problems — and things might be getting worse.
LineageOS is the most popular custom ROM for Android devices, bringing new OS versions to phones and tablets that have long since been unsupported. The Pixel lineup has mostly been ignored by the project, outside of the original models, but now nearly every Google-made phone is receiving official builds of LineageOS.
Lost in yesterday's Android 11 hullabaloo was another bit of news: Security patches for Google's Pixel series were released together as part of the Android 11 update. This month's security-oriented fixes are more numerous than usual, with plenty of "high" and "critical" vulnerabilities included, so be sure to install the Android 11 update sooner rather than later.
The first Developer Preview for Android 11 landed in February of this year, and Google has continued to iterate and add new features across several more Developer Previews and Betas. As revealed earlier this summer at the start of Google's "11 weeks of Android" promotion, the stable version of Android 11 has arrived, ready for public consumption and rolling out to Google Pixel devices.