The Google Pixel 9 might not get much of a chipset upgrade

Google Pixel 7a review case on sticky notes
The Google Pixel 7a (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

We're only a couple of weeks away from the big Google Pixel 8 reveal, but there's already talk of what's coming with the Google Pixel 9 – and it seems the 2024 flagship will only be offering a modest upgrade as far as its chipset goes.

According to sources speaking to Android Authority, the Tensor G4 chip fitted inside the Pixel 9 is going to be "semi-custom" and "co-designed with Samsung's System LSI division". Also, it "will most likely be a smaller upgrade than initially planned".

In other words, it looks as though Google's long-term aim of producing a fully custom system-on-a-chip (SoC) without Samsung's help is going to have to wait until 2025 and the launch of the Google Pixel 10 smartphones.

Android Authority compares the jump in performance to the one we got between the original Tensor chip (fitted inside the Pixel 6) and the Tensor G2 chip (fitted inside the Pixel 7) that came a year later – a jump, but not much of one.

Chips with everything

Ultimately, Google wants to get where Apple is: designing its own SoCs for its phones. It means software and hardware can be more tightly integrated, because teams from the same company are communicating together.

It also means Google could tailor its chips more specifically for what it wants its Pixel phones to do (think lots of AI and advanced image processing). It's a bit like building your own PC compared with picking up a pre-built one.

However, custom chipsets take a long time to develop, and need a lot of resources devoting to them – which is why Google has so far been partnering with Samsung to make the silicon that has been fitted inside recent Pixel phones.

It now seems as though that will continue for the Pixel 9, which should appear later next year. In the meantime, the Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel Watch 2 launches are set for Wednesday, October 4, and we'll be bringing you all the news as it happens.

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David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.