Google is widely expected to release four Pixel 9 phones this fall. The list includes the next-gen Pixel Fold, which might be called Pixel 9 Pro Fold, according to a new leak. Then, we’ll get the Pixel 9, the Pixel 9 Pro, and the Pixel 9 Pro XL.

Google didn’t tease any of these devices at I/O 2024. The event focused on AI features coming to Google apps and Google phones. AI was such a big topic that Android 15 seemed like an afterthought. Google only detailed the Gemini-based features coming to Android 15 this fall, choosing to announce the non-AI features of the operating system a day later.

Now, we have a Pixel 9 leak that offers a few specs for two of the four 2024 Google phones. Such leaks are common in the world of Pixel devices. Google can’t keep any secrets about its devices or chooses not to. But this Pixel 9 Pro XL specs leak is quite telling, as it teases a big upgrade that teases on-device Gemini AI features coming to Google’s next-gen handsets.

Blog MySmartPrice first uncovered Pixel 9 Pro XL and Pixel 9 Geekbench 6.3.0 benchmarks. As you can see below, these early scores are well below what the iPhone 15 Pro/Max can offer. But we’re looking at early tests featuring non-final software. And that’s assuming they’re real, to begin with.

Then again, Google’s Tensor’s chips would never beat the iPhone in benchmark tests. And I expect the iPhone 16 models to perform even better than the Pixel 9 models.

What’s more interesting than the benchmark scores are the specs they mention. The Pixel 9 Pro XL test shows the handset will feature Google’s Tensor G4 chip and 16GB of RAM. The Pixel 9 test lists the same chip but paired with 8GB of RAM.

Pixel 9 Pro XL specs leak teases amazing on-device Gemini AI features
Pixel 9 Pro XL vs. iPhone 15 Pro Max: Benchmark and specs comparison. Image source: Geekbench

If you’ve followed recent AI-related news, especially Apple Intelligence, you probably know RAM is a big bottleneck for processing AI features on the device. Apple needs an iPhone 15 Pro/Max or better to deliver Apple Intelligence. Put differently, that’s an iPhone that has at least 8GB of RAM. Some reports say Apple Intelligence will always need at least 2GB of RAM for local processing.

I said earlier this week that, as a longtime iPhone user, I’m willing to wait for Apple to give me the Siri AI experience I want on the iPhone. That’s a personal AI assistant that’s aware of context. By that, I mean the data stored on my phone and what’s displayed on the screen. Siri will then be able to take commands for taking action in apps or controlling the iPhone.

At the time, I said nobody had attempted to tease or demo an experience similar to Apple’s vision for Siri. But I also speculated that Google would want to create its own personal AI assistant for the Pixel phones, starting with the Pixel 9. Rumors already say work on such an assistant might be ongoing. The same goes for Samsung and other Android vendors.

A key aspect of Apple Intelligence is privacy via on-device processing and a brand new type of cloud-based processing. The former is probably the reason why Apple Intelligence won’t run on iPhone 15 and older devices that will support iOS 18. Again, it’s about the RAM.

Apple copies Android features for the iPhone all the time, but overall, Google has always followed Apple’s lead when it comes to Pixel hardware and software features. With the Apple Intelligence vision in place, Google can’t afford not to match Apple’s privacy guarantees.

Pixel 9 vs. iPhone 15 Pro Max: Benchmark and specs comparison.
Pixel 9 vs. iPhone 15 Pro Max: Benchmark and specs comparison. Image source: Geekbench

After all, we all knew Apple’s AI strategy would hinge on strong privacy features. Google probably predicted it, too. Moreover, Google will also want to outdo Apple’s AI with its massive Gemini model.

That’s where that 16GB of RAM on the Pixel 9 Pro XL will come in handy. By increasing the amount of RAM, Google can ensure the handset has enough memory for on-device Gemini AI assistant features now and in the coming years. The Pixel 8 Pro packs 12GB of RAM, which could be enough for more sophisticated on-device Gemini AI models later this year.

On the same note, the Pixel 9’s 8GB of RAM might be bad news for on-device AI. But remember that Google talked about its Gemini Nano and Gemini 1.5 Flash models on stage at I/O 2024. These will let Google bring some of the advanced Gemini features to devices like the Pixel 9 complete with on-device processing. I am speculating here, however.

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