The start of a new month means it’s time for Google to roll out an Android security patch. November’s patch is more notable than usual, thanks to some Pixel 6-specific bugfixes and the cutoff of the three-year-old Pixel 3 hardware.
This release also marks the death of the Pixel 3 in Google’s support lineup. The Pixel 3 launched in October 2018 with one of the biggest display notches ever and a serious dearth of RAM, earning 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 years of updates. Now that the November security is here, it’s not rolling out to the 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 into the world by extending its support timelines, but it has been reluctant to do that. Even the new Pixel 6, over which Google has end-to-end control, will still be obsolete after three years, though it will continue to get security updates. We’re only asking that Google’s $900 flagship match the support window of a $400 budget iPhone.
While the Pixel 3 is dying, the Pixel 6 is just getting started. Pixel 6 owners accessed the November patch as a day-one update, but Google is only now detailing what is in the patch. The last-minute fixes include changes to how auto-brightness works in certain lighting conditions, Wi-Fi connection stability improvements, and better Bluetooth audio quality in “certain scenarios.” This isn’t the end of the Pixel 6 fixes, either. Google has already said December’s patch will come with a fix for a strange and inconsequential bug where users can induce “transient display artifacts” when the display is turned off. We can’t replicate this error ourselves, but apparently, if you press the power button just right—lightly enough to trigger the bug but not hard enough to fully turn the display on, you can get the display to flicker. Until the patch rolls out, Google recommends not doing this.