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Google engineer reveals the Pixel 4 will likely have better dual-SIM support

Google engineer reveals the Pixel 4 will likely have better dual-SIM support


Just like the iPhone

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Google Pixel 3
Photo by Vlad Savov / The Verge

According to comments from a Google engineer on code in the Android Open Source Project, Google is working on a new “2019 Pixel.” Well, duh, of course Google is working on new smartphones for this year. But what’s interesting, as XDA Developers discovered over the weekend, is that the new handset should have better support for dual SIMs. That could mean that the Google Pixel 4 could work better on two different cellular carriers’ networks simultaneously instead of having just one enabled and the other disabled (and forcing you to choose which is which).

In fact, the dual-SIM functionality is in active “dogfooding” on the Google Pixel 3 right now, meaning that Google is already testing it internally on a phone you might be using today. We know this because of the Google engineer’s comment — which you can read below — but first, here’s some context. The Google Pixel 2 and 3 have both a physical SIM card slot and an eSIM, but you can’t have both active at the same time. That’s in direct opposition to how the latest iPhones work, which are able to receive calls and texts from either network.

Other Android phones can do similar multi-network tricks, and that feature is actually pretty important to some people. In some regions of the world it’s common to quickly switch between networks to get the best data rate — and it’s also a boon for people who travel a lot. The Pixel 3’s inability to have two SIMs active is a hassle for a lot of people.

Here’s that Googler’s comment, which points out both that a “2019 Pixel” is coming and that dual-SIM functionality is being tested inside Google:

This boolean will be set to true in 2019 devices by default.

The boolean is required to differentiate 2018 Pixel (which has 2 SIM cards, but dual SIM functionality is restricted to dog fooding) from 2019 Pixel (which will have dual SIM functionality).

The flag will be updated over the air for dog fooding.

Regarding the bug that you mentioned. In general, some devices will be single SIM, even if they contain two SIM cards, as the Pixel 2018 case and that is a valid configuration.

The code here is essentially an engineer working out how Android itself will know whether a phone supports dual SIM. XDA also points out something you should know: there’s more than one way to handle dual-SIM functionality. One is “Dual SIM Dual Active” (DSDA) where both SIM cards are active and able to be used for calls, text, and data. The other is “Dual SIM Dual Standby” (DSDS) where the secondary SIM can only receive calls and texts, but isn’t fully active.

iPhones use DSDS and presumably that’s what will arrive on the Google Pixel 4. Whether dual-SIM functionality for current Pixels will ever make it out of Google’s internal testing to your Pixel 3 is an open question. If I were Google, though, I’d work hard to ensure it works on the rumored Google Pixel Lite, because it will be a better fit for markets like India where dual SIM is more valued.