The latest 5G standard is not supported by the Pixel 7 line

Just because the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro both support 5G. This does not mean that both models support the latest 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) versions. The latter is the name of an organization made up of various groups that together develop the standards for mobile telecommunications. The first 5G standard, known as Release 15, was rolled out in 2018. Release 16 was released two years later. In 2022, Release 17 was made available, with Release 18 planned for 2024.
Qualcomm first added Release 16 support with its Snapdragon X65 5G modem chip, which was released in 2021. Last year’s Snapdragon X70 5G modem chip also supports Release 16 and this chip can be found in the brand new Galaxy S23 series. Qualcomm has already announced the Snapdragon X75 5G modem chip with Release 17 and Release 18 support.
Accordingly Qualcomm (via 9to5Google), Release 16 offers a “variety of improvements to the fundamental aspects of the 5G system in terms of coverage, capacity, latency, performance, mobility, reliability, ease of deployment and more”. Many of the improvements in Release 16 revolve around features that save power.

For example, Qualcomm wrote: “Release 16 introduced several new power saving features. For example, a new wake-up signal (WUS) can inform the device whether a transmission is pending, or leave it in sleep mode, skipping the next low-power DRX monitoring period (discontinuous reception). Others include optimized low-power settings, overhead reduction, and more efficient power control mechanisms.”

A post in the Android Issue Tracker notes that the Pixel 7 range launched with Release 15 support. Note that both the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro don’t use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon modems and come with the Exynos 5300 5G modem. The post also states that “3GPP Release 16 is planned in the release of Android U.” This could mean that the Pixel 7 range will get Release 16 support later this year, or it could mean that support for Release 16 will only be seen in the upcoming Pixel 8 series, which is expected to launch in Q4 2023.

The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are likely to be powered by the Google Tensor 3 SoC, but both are expected to feature the same Exynos 5300 5G modem chip that will be used in the 2022 Pixel models. Samsung’s website states that the Exynos 5300 is “3GPP Release 16 Compatible”.

In case you were wondering, the iPhone 14 series with the Snapdragon X65 5G modem supports Release 16. The Galaxy S22 series also supports Release 16.


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