Pixel 4 XL sitting on a treeSource: Joe Maring / Android Central

What you need to know

  • The December 2019 security patch began rolling out on December 2.
  • It made its way to all Pixel devices, except the Pixel 4, which is getting it next week.
  • Last month's November update was delayed for many, and has still yet to arrive on some handsets.

One of the main reasons to buy a Pixel phone is that it's the first to receive software updates and security patches as they're released. Timely updates are an issue with just about every Android device out there, but Pixels stand out as an exception to this rule. At least, they usually do.

For the last two monthly security patches, the Pixel 4 hasn't gotten them on time — most recently with the December patch that started rolling out on December 2. This latest patch added new features and security fixes for the Pixel 2, Pixel 3, and Pixel 3a, but nothing for the Pixel 4. What gives?

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Google published a post on its Pixel Phone Help forums highlighting what the December patch offers for the Pixel 4 and 4 XL, including things like better Bluetooth pairing performance, improved vibration haptics, and more. However, it's not rolling out to the phones until sometime next week.

Timely updates are one of the Pixel 4's greatest strengths. Google not following through on that promise is a big deal.

Some might say it's silly to complain about an update being delayed by one week, but the whole point of buying a Pixel is that it gets updates before anything else. However, we now live in a world where the Samsung Galaxy S10, Note 10, and Note 9 have the December patch before Google's latest flagships.

We'd be inclined to give Google a pass if this was the first time this had happened, but it's not. In fact, this is the second month in a row that the Pixel 4 has been met with a delayed update.

On November 4, Google launched the November 2019 patch into the wild. Users in our AC forums reported getting it on their older Pixel 3 and Pixel 2 devices, but not seeing anything for the Pixel 4. The November update didn't arrive on my Pixel 4 until a couple of weeks after that date, with my other AC colleagues having just gotten it yesterday or still sitting on the old October patch.

Not only is this annoying for anyone with a Pixel 4, but it's also a bad look for Google that it's not following through on one of the biggest selling points for its phone.

A week-long delay for this latest December update isn't a deal-breaker on its own, but who's to say it won't be delayed for a full month the way the November patch has been for some users? Pixels are supposed to stand out as a shining beacon of hope in a world scattered with update fragmentation left and right, and if the Pixel 4 is now going on two months without a timely update, that doesn't bode well for what's supposed to be Android's update champion.

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