For well over a decade now, handheld PCs have been one of technology's hottest topics. In 2021, more than a year after my Motorola Nexus 5X's Android had lost its security support, I decided it was time to replace it. The pandemic and the fact that I had never purchased a handheld was one reason why shopping the replacement took so long, but I never expected it would take me nearly a year. Indeed, the options were so bad that I decided to wait until Google would release its Pixel 6a (which―of course―was considerably delayed). The main reason was durability. Most phones would barely offer a meagre 3 years of software security support and the Fairphone was unavailable in Canada. The Pixel 6 finally offered a reasonable 5 years of security support, so I finally bought a Pixel 6a in July 2022.
While it's much better than my 3 previous handhelds, my new phone is far from perfect. Bugs were there on day 1, and the fingerprint reader is still so much less reliable than on my Nexus 5X. Overall, defects are visibly each week. Yet, I am pleasantly surprised to hear of the progress Google is making this month. Not so much by releasing Android 14, which is a modest improvement, but rather with the Pixel 8, which comes with the open-source Android and 7 years of security support. As Android 14 is showing, the evolution of handhelds is slowing down… which allows their maturation to start, and support to finally adapt to this new status.
I'm eager to see Google release affordable editions making this (early) maturity widely available, and hoping that by the time I replace my Pixel 6a, 7-year support has become the norm in a somewhat sustainable market where durability is an expectation.