All Google Pixel smartphones are touted as running the latest version of Android and security updates, and getting them first (or at least among the first). But that's not the case with the Pixel 3a series.
The Pixel 3a is shipping with a two-month old security patch. Running the March 5, 2019 security patch instead of the May patch. For a Pixel smartphone, that's a pretty big deal, but also shows that the device was likely delayed a couple of months.
Shipping with a slightly outdated security patch is not uncommon. And typically, there would be an update or two out of the box for new Pixel 3a owners to install on their brand new smartphone. But that's not the case here. For instance, we've been using our Pixel 3a since we got it on Tuesday evening, and there hasn't been a single update available.
That will likely change with the June 2019 update next month, but it's still odd that it shipped with such an old security patch, given the fact that Pixels' are bought because it gets updates fast.
Now, shipping with a two-month old security patch doesn't necessarily mean that the Pixel 3a was delayed two months. However, the apps that are pre-installed on the Pixel 3a at launch does show that it was likely delayed, or at least got certified for GMS (Google Mobile Services) back in January. For instance, the Gmail app is running on the old, non-blinding version. And the new version launched in January. Adding evidence that Google did delay the Pixel 3a for one reason or another.
That shouldn't surprise us, considering we've been hearing rumors of the Pixel 3a since at least December, if not longer. And that included some leaks coming out of Russia and the Ukraine. So the device had been in the works for quite a long time, but one has to wonder, why Google waited so long to release the Pixel 3a? Was it because it wanted some hardware to announce at Google I/O? After all, it had been several years since it last announced hardware at Google I/O – the last hardware announced was the Nexus Q, and that was in 2012.
The Pixel 3a is still a pretty good smartphone, even with a slightly out of date security patch. But it is still running the latest version of Android and it is also available to run the Android Q beta. Which the third beta just launched this past week as well. So for most people, this won't be a problem at all, as they can run Android Q.
Running a two-month old security patch shouldn't be a big deal for most people. It's still going to be more up-to-date than most other smartphones in this price range. It's very possible that Google could release the May patch for it in the next week or so – and possibly some bug fixes, if it finds any – or just wait til the June patch comes out in less than a month. We'll just have to wait and see.