Pixel 9, Fold 2, Tablet 2 with 5G reportedly get new Samsung modem with satellite connectivity

According to a new report, Google’s upcoming Pixel hardware including the Pixel 9 series, Pixel Fold 2, and a 5G-connected Pixel Tablet will be getting a new cellular modem, an overdue upgrade.

Since the big Tensor reboot, Google has shifted away from Qualcomm’s proven modems paired with Snapdragon processors over to Samsung modems which work with the Exynos base that Tensor relies on. Google first upgraded the modem paired with Tensor on the Pixel 7 series but leaned on the same modem (albeit a slightly newer refresh of it) on the Pixel 8 series. And while the modem is reasonably sufficient, it still struggles in areas with low connection, and is less power efficient.

Now, it seems Google is planning to equip Pixel 9, and other devices, with an updated modem.

Android Authority reports that Pixel 9, Pixel 9 Pro, and Pixel 9 Pro “XL” will be equipped with a new modem. However, that modem, which will be a part of Tensor G4, will still be provided by Samsung – the new generation is signified 5400, up from the 5300 paired with Tensor G3.

The same modem will apparently be used in the upcoming Pixel Fold 2 as well as a previously unknown 5G-connected Pixel Tablet. In February, 9to5Google reported on possible Pixel Tablet 2 codenames, including the “clementine” codename mentioned in this report, confirming that this is in fact a sequel to the Pixel Tablet. The current Pixel Tablet offers no cellular connectivity.

The new modem is reportedly upgraded on the software side, but it’s unclear how the hardware is changing. The only clear upgrade is support for the 3GPP Rel. 17 5G spec which supports satellite connectivity. Technically, the existing modem in Pixel devices does also support satellite, but it’s not yet been used, and it does use an older version of the 5G spec.

Alongside this added support, Pixels with satellite support would use a “Satellite Gateway” app which, to the user, would be used through Emergency SOS. According to this report, users will be asked basic questions to identify the emergency situation, given a choice to notify contacts, and send messages with emergency services.

Some of the questions, which may have multiple-choice answers, include:

  • What happened?
  • [Are you/Are they/Is everyone] breathing?
  • In total, how many people are [missing/trapped]?
  • What best describes your situation?
  • What is on fire?
  • Are there weapons involved?
  • What type of vehicle or vessel?
  • Do any of these apply?

A new preview clip, as seen below, signifies there will be a UI to help align with a satellite.

Code also suggests that Pixel Fold 2 may need to be unfolded to do this.

Google has been working on “Satellite SOS” on Pixel devices as of late, but no functionality is live today.

How this new modem sticks the landing will be interesting, but there’s a pretty low bar for success here. Google is expected to shift to a TSMC-produced Tensor chip in 2025, but it’s unclear if the company will change modems at that point. Tensor G4 is, beyond this modem, expected to be a relatively minor change.

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