Pixel 7 doesn’t support latest 5G standard, might with Android 14

The 3GPP is responsible for developing mobile broadband standards, with 5G being the recent focus. Standards are made available as “releases,” with the Pixel 7 on the older 3GPP Release 15 compared to other available phones today.

Release 15 launched in June of 2018 as the first 5G standard. It was followed in July 2020 by Release 16, which Qualcomm added support for with the Snapdragon X65 in 2021 and last year’s X70 modem (as found on the Galaxy S23). 

(Release 17 came out in June of 2022 and Release 18 is targeting 2024. Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon X75 with Release 17 and 18 support earlier this month.)

Qualcomm described Release 16 as bringing a “plethora of enhancements to the foundational aspects of the 5G system, in terms of coverage, capacity, latency, power, mobility, reliability, ease of deployment, and more.” Of particular note in the “second 5G standard” are power-saving features:

For instance, a new wakeup signal (WUS) can let the device know if a transmission is pending or allowing it to stay in low-power mode, skipping the next low-power DRX (discontinuous reception) monitoring period. Others include optimized low-power settings, overhead reduction, and more efficient power control mechanisms.

Via Qualcomm

In response to a filing in the Android 13 QPR issue tracker (via Cstark), a Google employee on Thursday said that the Pixel 7 (which uses the Exynos 5300 modem) supports Release 15 for “initial launch.” A brief reference to the Exynos 5300 from December 2022 on Samsung’s website says the modem is “3GPP Release 16-compliant.”

The Googler adds that “3GPP Release 16 will plan in Android U release.” One interpretation of this is that the Pixel 7 will be updated to Release 16 in the fall. It comes as the Pixel 8 is rumored to use the same 5300 modem with the Tensor G3, with another possibility being that only the newer phone will support it.

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