5 Things I Want to See Google Improve in the Pixel 9 Series

In Short
  • Pixel phones have flaws, there's no doubt of it, and they'd sell like hotcakes if Google would address them.
  • Tensor's thermal throttling and poor network reception are major issues that Google should fix in Pixel 9.
  • Google should increase the base storage, use faster UFS 4.0 storage, and improve the charging speed of the upcoming Pixel phones.

Google’s Pixel smartphones undoubtedly represent the best Android has to offer. Okay, close to the best, guys. For the last few years, Google has consistently released arguably some of the best camera phones. The Pixel lineup sure has come a long way since its first resurrection in 2021 with the Pixel 6, steadily improving the lineup with every iteration; the Pixel 8 series being the best release so far. However, Pixels are still far from perfect, and here are the 5 things I want to see Google improve in the Pixel 9 series.

1. Not Just an ‘Improved’ Tensor G4

Google’s selling point for Pixels, besides its cameras, is the custom Tensor chipset. And users hate Tensor for all the right but also the wrong reasons. The bar set by Apple and Qualcomm is high and Google doesn’t want to compete with their likes and is largely focused on providing a harmonious software-cum-hardware experience.

However, at the end of the day, performance is one of the biggest judging points of a phone and the truth remains that Tensor SoCs have never been consistent performers, not at gaming nor sustained peak performance, which is not what people expect from a $1000+ device in 2024.

tensor g3

Yes, the cameras are great but we have seen things in tech change overnight (ahem, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra) and when that happens, cameras could no longer be Pixel’s saving grace. Hence, the changes to Tensor G4 must be significant, especially on the GPU side of things.

Tensor’s throttling performance has been the worst, heating issues have plagued Pixels for years, and Exynos is to be blamed, partially. People agree that the issue with Tensor or Exynos, in general, is Samsung’s Foundry, which is true. However, the Google Tensor G5 chip that we’ll see in the Pixel 10 will be manufactured by TSMC (the foundry that manufactures Qualcomm chipsets). Tensor G4, however, will still be based on Exynos 2400.

Exynos 2400 is now available in the Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24+, and from our initial testing, it’s looking pretty good. Throttling still exists, as expected, but Exynos 2400 has improved in sustained peak performance, which is great news for Pixel fans.

We also concluded in our Exynos 2400 vs Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 comparison that Samsung has also largely closed the gap in GPU performance. And we even talked in-depth about the Exynos 2400 in our YouTube video:

All in all, I’m sure a lot of people would be more than happy if Google and Samsung, with the Tensor G4, managed to reach the performance and stability of Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, at least. I’m not asking for the stars. Not to mention, Google shouldn’t leave a bad impression yet again with the Tensor G4 as the first Tensor fully made by Google, possibly the Tensor G5, will land in Pixel 10.

2. Faster Charging Speeds

Google has gradually improved charging speeds on Pixel over the years, with the latest Pixel 8 Pro capable of charging at 30W. Before Pixel 8, Pixels didn’t charge at their peak marketed speeds but around 2-5W below them, probably to extend battery longevity.

My Pixel 6, for instance, charges at a maximum of 13W while the advertised charging speed is 18W. The Pixel 8 series is much closer to the advertised charging speeds. Today, the difference in claimed and tested speeds is almost negligible due to external factors.

The point is, that 30W is still slow according to 2024 standards where phones ship with 60W-120W charging speeds with a charger in the box. I would be more than happy if Google manages to bump it up to at least 33W on the non-Pro and 45W on the Pro. A man can wish.

3. Higher and Faster Base Storage Variant

A flagship device with an older storage type is not worthy of being called a “flagship.” That’s exactly what Google did with the Pixel 8 Pro, which was unacceptable to a lot of people.

For those unaware, Google launched the Pixel 8 Pro with UFS 3.1, a type of flash storage that first launched two years ago. The latest mid-range offering from POCO, i.e. the POCO X6 Pro, which is available for less than four times the Pixel 8 cost in India comes with 256GB base storage; that too the UFS 4.0 kind.

Samsung UFS 4.0

Why is UFS 4.0 a big deal, you ask? We have an article explaining the same. TL;DR, UFS 4.0 is two times faster than UFS 3.1 and has 30% faster random write and 13% faster random read speeds. Not to mention, UFS 4.0 takes 46% less power to operate than UFS 3.1 and supports a maximum storage of 1TB vs 512 on the UFS 3.1, which are all huge improvements.

Google should’ve opted for UFS 4.0 in the 256GB or above variants at least, on the Pro, if not on the non-Pro. I believe no manufacturer should call their phone a flagship in 2024 if it lacks the newest and greatest features while bearing a hefty price tag.

4. Solve the Network Issues, PLEASE

If you’ve ever used a Pixel phone, you may have seen a lot of posts about bad cellular reception on them or may have experienced it yourself. While the connectivity has drastically improved since Pixel 6, it’s not as good as Qualcomm counterparts. The Pixel 8 series uses the same modem as the Pixel 7 series, the Exynos 5300. Pixel 7 had a lot of network issues at launch, and so did the Pixel 8, although fewer.

qualcomm x70 modem iphone
Image Courtesy: iFixit | iPhone 15 mainboard bottom sandwich layer

On the other hand, Apple uses Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon X70 modem on the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro. It’s on the lower portion of the sandwiched motherboard design and is considered one of the best smartphone modems in the world. Perhaps Google, too, could let go of Exynos 5300 and add a separate modem? Easier said than done, but would it be worth it? Absolutely!

5. A Lower Price Tag

Specifications are important but what matters the most for a smartphone like Pixel is the price tag it carries. If you’re unaware, the Pixel 8 came for $699, $100 more than the Pixel 7, which stirred a lot of debate about whether the price increase was justified, especially outside the West.

Fast forward to February, and the price of the Pixel 8 has since dropped to $549 from $699 a couple of times.

Pixel 8 Pro cameras

The truth is, Pixel phones aren’t exactly known to hold value longer and their prices depreciate quickly, largely because Google offers good discounts a month after their launch. Hence, it’d be better if the Pixel 9 series carries a lower price tag from the start itself, which would lure in more people initially and drive sales. A price decrease of $50 to $100 would do wonders.

However, we don’t think that might happen since we may see an extra telephoto camera on the standard Pixel 9, as per leaks, which will drive up costs. If anything, the standard Pixel 9 could end up receiving a price bump.

What are the things YOU would improve on the Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

comment Comments 1
  • Kavish pal says:

    Old is gold

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