Google's Pixel 3a and 3a XL are pre-installed with unusually old software

Google's Pixel 3a and 3a XL are pre-installed with unusually old software
On paper, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL are two very promising smartphones with a flagship-grade rear camera in tow, respectable overall specifications, and above all, extremely reasonable price points. But software might actually be Google's main selling point here. 

Not only are these mid-rangers supposed to ship with the newest version of Android, optimized for buttery smooth performance and free of bloatware, but the exciting promise is they will receive no less than three major OS updates at the same time as the costlier Pixel 3 and 3 XL. Of course, a central part of the "pure Google" experience is also made of minor updates, delivered monthly to deal with mostly routine security vulnerabilities and, occasionally, functional issues too.

Curiously enough, the Pixel 3a duo seems to be getting off on the wrong foot as far as security patches are concerned, as noticed by many early adopters. Instead of running Android 9.0 Pie with the May 2019 patch applied on top, like the Pixel 3, 3 XL, 2, 2 XL, and even the original Pixel and Pixel XL, the new guys come preloaded with a surprisingly old software package. Namely, the security patch level listed on first boot is March 5 and there's no over-the-air update available just yet to revise that in any way.

You can't even manually bring your hot new Pixel 3a or Pixel 3a XL up to date, which feels... pretty unusual. In fact, we're almost certain this has never happened before. While the reason behind this bizarre omission is not entirely clear, Android Central has a theory that sounds fairly plausible. Specifically, there's a good chance these phones were initially scheduled for a March release.

Obviously, that doesn't exonerate Google, which needs to make the situation right as soon as possible if we are to believe the Pixel 3a and 3a XL will indeed receive the same treatment on the software update front as the Pixel 3 and 3 XL for a full three years. In the meantime, you shouldn't be too worried if you're in possession of a handset with an outdated security patch level, as the past two updates haven't brought many significant changes to the table.

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15 Comments

1. Valdomero

Posts: 653; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

Hmmm... click bait articles this is... 2 month old security patches are not a huuuge deal actually, the fact that you can't push an update to your new phone is the real issue here.

2. lyndon420

Posts: 6489; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Agreed. If one is careful with what they're doing on the phone an outdated security pack out of the gate shouldn't be a concern.

3. alancameron

Posts: 16; Member since: Apr 04, 2015

You can get a brand new 128gig pixel 2 XL for 380. Surly that's a better deal?

4. Venom

Posts: 3109; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

Not when it's made by LG.

5. meanestgenius

Posts: 21453; Member since: May 28, 2014

Should have been a “day one” update to fix this blunder. How can’t an update be pushed to a brand new phone? I was considering getting a Pixel 3A XL, but it looks like Google is still keeping in line with the notorious Pixel issues at launch, so I guess I won’t now. Smh....

6. Venom

Posts: 3109; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

Granted, this is something that Google should be aware of and push an update out for, but at least it's not a mess of a release like the Pureview was that recently had an update that was supposed to fix something but ended up breaking something else in return. I never considered getting it because I felt that the 7.1 was the better device. Just my thoughts on the matter without the bias.

7. meanestgenius

Posts: 21453; Member since: May 28, 2014

Granted, The N9PV was released with some issues, but Google has been releasing Pixel after Pixel after Pixel after Pixel with a multitude of issues. They have matched Apple with the “release an update just to break something else on the phone” scenario. I considered getting a Pixel 3A XL, but Google just can’t seem to get the software right on the Pixels, so it’s a “nope” for me. Just my thoughts on the matter without the bias.

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