The Pixel 9 could get this long-overdue upgrade to fix cellular connectivity issues

Pixel 9 leaked image
(Image credit: @OnLeaks)

When it comes to buying a new phone, your handset's modem may be the last thing on your mind. But Pixel users have long complained about cellular connectivity issues with Google's line of smartphones, and with the Pixel 9, the search giant may finally make an overdue upgrade. 

The Pixel 9, Pixel 9 Pro, and new larger Pixel 9 Pro XL will be equipped with a new modem, Android Authority reports. According to an unnamed Google insider who spoke with the outlet, that modem will be a part of Tensor G4, coming first to the Pixel 9 series, and is still being sourced from Samsung. The next-gen Samsung Modem 5400, up from the 5300 paired with Tensor G3 found on the Pixel 8 series, will also reportedly be used in the upcoming Pixel Fold 2 as well as a previously unknown 5G-connected Pixel Tablet codenamed "clementine." In our Pixel Tablet review, we found Google's first tablet to be a great on-the-go device but only if you're able to connect to Wifi, as it does not offer cellular connectivity. 

The new modem will reportedly feature a software upgrade, but how things will change on the hardware side remains unclear. One of the modem upgrades coming to the Pixel 9 series includes satellite connectivity, Android Authority reports. It'll pack support for 3GPP Rel. 17, which brings support for 5G non-terrestrial networks (NTN), or satellite-based communication in other words. With this, Pixel phones with satellite support would feature a Satellite Gateway app to notify contacts and send messages to emergency services in times of crisis. 

In recent years, Google has pivoted from the Qualcomm modems paired with Snapdragon processors found in earlier Pixel phones in favor of Samsung modems, as the Google-designed Tensor and Tensor G2 processors are rooted heavily in Samsung’s Exynos chips. The last time we saw a true modem upgrade was from the Exynos Modem 5123 on the Pixel 6 to the Exynos Modem 5300 on the Pixel 7 and 8. And while the latter is sufficient for the most part, it's been dogged by complaints of being less power efficient and struggling in areas with low connection. 

A frustrating issue that, hopefully, the Pixel 9's modem upgrade will fix. We'll just have to wait and see, as the Pixel 9 isn't expected to drop until October 2024.

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Alyse Stanley
News Editor

Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment. Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats.  She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.