Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Death of the Nexus Phones

OK - for people following the goings on in the Android phone world, this is old news but Google has come out with their Pixel phones and have discontinued their Nexus phones.  This is more than just a name change.  The Nexus line had two phones, a midrange phone and a high end phone.  The Pixel line has two phones, a high end phone and a high end phone with a bigger screen.  For those of us not willing to spend $650 on a phone, we've just been priced out.

So why is it a big deal?  Can't I just get a midrange phone from somebody else?  That depends.  To me, a smart phone is a mini-computer.  It runs programs, accesses my private information (banks, emails, contacts, etc.), surfs the internet, etc.  Really, it's not much different than a desktop PC - just smaller.  So, would you buy a PC if you knew it wasn't going to get updated?  No security patches to prevent viruses, no upgrades to the operating system (in this case, Android), to bug fixes, nothing.  I wouldn't.  However, a lot of Android phone vendors are exactly like that.  If I buy a phone made by HTC, Asus, Motorola, Alcatel, OnePlus, etc. will it get security patches?  Upgrades?  Maybe.  That's it, just maybe.  Nexus phones get monthly security updates and get upgraded to the latest version of Android.  Pixel phones get the same treatment.  Do you know who else gets that?  iPhones.  Nice!

That was my initial thought, so I did some research.  Does anybody make Android phones at decent prices that get patches and upgrades?  Sort of.  Three vendors have come out and pledged that they will release security updates for their phones.

  • Samsung
  • LG
  • Blackberry
CORRECTION: Since I published this, Nokia has come out and said their Android phones will get updates.

That's it.  Any other vendor and you have no guarantees.  At least, not that I know of.

I have to admit, I was surprised to see Blackberry on that list but their DTEK60 looks like a pretty good phone.  I was impressed by how they make security a big part of their feature list and will be seriously checking them out when it's time to get my next phone.

LG is also a good brand.  My Nexus 5x is made by LG and I've been pretty happy with it.  I am definitely keeping my eye on them although their high end phones are pretty pricey.  I may have to look more mid-grade.

Finally there's Samsung.  I think I must just love the underdog because I've never really considered getting a Samsung phone.  They're the biggest name in Android phones but I've never really paid that much attention to them.  Perhaps I need to reconsider...

All in all, there are more options out there for well supported phones than I initially thought and I should have quite a few options when I'm ready to go on my next phone.

Of course there's always Apple but... no, I just can't.  Too expensive, too arrogant, too trendy, too controlling.  Nope, I just can't do it.

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