The Pixel 9 could offer two new emergency features, thanks to a new Samsung modem

Google is reportedly adopting Samsung's Exynos Modem 5400​ in its upcoming Pixel 9, in the next Pixel Fold, and in a new 5G tablet.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
Google Pixel 8 Pro Camera Mode
June Wan/ZDNET

When the Pixel 9 from Google debuts this fall, it won't just bring the typical upgrades we're used to seeing year-over-year. The Pixel 9 will also add a new modem and two big safety features -- one of which directly copies something from Apple -- according to a Google insider cited by Android Authority.

Nearly a month ago, satellite SOS messaging began showing up on Pixel phones -- or at least the ability to turn on the feature did (it doesn't do anything, yet). The feature, which would let users send a text message without a cell signal, is a pretty important safety addition that debuted in iOS with the iPhone 14.

According to Android Authority, the Pixel 9 (all three models) will be the first Google phone to support Android 15's SOS messaging system. T-Mobile users will get the feature first, with other carriers being added later. You'll be able to message, but not call, without service. In August 2022, T-Mobile announced a partnership with SpaceX to provide satellite messaging, so it's possible that Starlink will be providing the coverage.

Also: Google Messages' satellite connectivity support could let you chat with anyone

In addition, Google plans to offer a special "Satellite Gateway" app that lets users with no signal communicate with emergency services. Similar to Apple's setup, the app will likely ask questions to ascertain what's happening rather than having the user type out a full message. The questions could include "Is everyone breathing?", "What kind of vehicle are you in?", and "How many people are with you?" The app would then guide the user to physically point their phone towards a satellite to send their communications.

While most people don't give their phone's modem a second thought, they might this fall. For the past several years, the modem in Pixel phones has been notoriously unreliable, leading to crashes and connectivity issues.

That will hopefully soon be a thing of the past, as Google is set to adopt Samsung's Exynos Modem 5400 in its upcoming devices. Capable of hitting 11.2Gbps, this modem would not only be faster, but more stable and battery-efficient. Of course, the model also supports connectivity for satellite-based communication.

All cellular-enabled Tensor G4 devices, including the Pixel 9 series and the next Pixel Fold, should get the new Samsung modem. 

Lastly, Android Authority's source also teased that Google is working on a new 5G tablet that would also use the same modem. No other details were shared, and it's not clear if this tablet will ever see the light of day. Still, it's interesting to see Google once again reconsidering tablets.

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