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

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, it doesn't mean that both models support the latest 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) releases. The latter is the name for an organization made up of different groups that together develop the standards for mobile telecommunications. The first 5G standard, known as Release 15, was disseminated in 2018. Two years later Release 16 was, uh, released. In 2022 Release 17 was made available with Release 18 targeted for 2024.

Qualcomm first added support for Release 16 with its Snapdragon X65 5G modem chip which launched in 2021. Last year's Snapdragon X70 5G modem chip also supports Release 16 and that chip is found in the brand spanking new Galaxy S23 series. Qualcomm has already announced the Snapdragon X75 5G modem chip with support for Release 17 and Release 18.

According to Qualcomm (via 9to5Google), Release 16 delivers 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." A lot of the improvements in Release 16 revolve around features that save power.

For example, Qualcomm wrote, "In Release 16, several new power-saving features were introduced. 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."

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A post made in the Android Issue Tracker notes that the Pixel 7 line was launched with support for Release 15. Keep in mind that both the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro do not use Qualcomm's Snapdragon modems and are equipped with the Exynos 5300 5G modem. The post also says, "3GPP Release 16 will plan in Android U release." This could mean that the Pixel 7 line will get Release 16 support later this year, or it could mean that support for Release 16 will be seen only on the upcoming Pixel 8 series expected to launch during the fourth quarter of 2023.

The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will likely be powered by the Google Tensor 3 SoC, but both are expected to sport the same Exynos 5300 5G modem chip used on the 2022 Pixel models. Samsung's website says that the Exynos 5300 is "3GPP Release 16-compliant."

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

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