Google Tensor G2: How did signal strength and speed improve on the Pixel 7?

Google Tensor G2: How did signal strength and speed improve on the Pixel 7?

One of the biggest issues that Google’s Pixel 6 series suffered over time was an unreliable modem. Compared to other Android devices, the Samsung modem used with Google Tensor just wasn’t up to snuff. How does Google Tensor G2 compare in the modem department? We put the Pixel 7 and Pixel 6 head-to-head to see how they compare with signal strength and speed to find out.

The Pixel 6 used a Samsung Exynos 5123b modem on its Google Tensor chipset. Samsung modems are rarely used in the US market as Qualcomm generally dominates. In a comparison from last year that pitted the Pixel 6 Pro against the Galaxy S21 Ultra and its Qualcomm hardware, the Pixel lagged terribly in both signal strength and the speeds it could. draw from a cellular network.

On the Pixel 7, Google uses its new Tensor G2 chipset which uses an Exynos 5300g modem.

In anecdotal findings over the past few months, the consensus has been that this upgrade has brought a marked improvement in both signal strength and speed. Most early buyers and reviewers, ourselves included, have found that the Pixel 7 series connects to a network more easily and tends to have respectable speeds and power consumption that are improved over the modem on the original Tensor chip from the Pixel 6 series devices.

Related: Pixel 7 Pro review: Google finally discovers flagship phones

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been able to run side-by-side tests with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7, both using AT&T’s network, to find out just how much this new modem actually improves your cellular signal.

How we tested the Pixel 7 modem

Our testing methodology for this comparison was to run three speed tests in Ookla Speedtest back to back on both devices at the same locations and average those results. We chose to exclude mmWave 5G from our testing because it was not available in Winston-Salem, NC, and surrounding areas we tested, but we used Sub6 5G and LTE networks because these are all AT&T offers in the areas we tested.

We also brought a Galaxy Z Fold 4 that uses the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 and a Qualcomm modem to test alongside the Pixels, but ended up excluding the device from the speed test results. Why? For some reason, our device was getting very inconsistent results on all of our speed tests. This eventually partially resolved after we performed a network settings reset, but to keep things consistent we’ve excluded the Fold from the speed tests below.

For signal strength tests, which we’ll get to later, we used NetMonitor Pro.

Is the Pixel 7 faster in speed tests?

My first testing location was simply my home neighborhood in Winston-Salem, NC, where the results were pretty predictable. The Pixel 6 with Tensor fell a little short of the Pixel 7. This was in an area that’s not particularly rural, but also not near any “downtown” areas.

Mbps speed test

The second location was a public park in High Point, NC (about 20 miles from Winston-Salem) that was quite close to some network towers – I’m not sure they were AT&T towers directly , but the signal was strong in this location with both phones reporting maximum signal strength. Here, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 achieved roughly identical results.

Mbps speed test

My next location was in downtown Winston-Salem, where signal strength is strong, but speeds are generally below 50 Mbps. I saw a difference of just 3-5 Mbps between the two Pixels, but the Pixel 7 was more consistent with its results when looking at each of the three tests.

Mbps speed test

Finally, I took both phones to a more rural location. The latter location – a park in Kernersville, North Carolina, 20 miles from Winston-Salem – was deliberately chosen for its weak signal from all carriers. I had 1-2 bars of 5G on both devices and averaged sub-5Mbps speeds – if I was lucky. Most tests saw barely 1 Mbps. Here, the Pixel 7 clearly pulled a little more than the Pixel 6, while my Fold 4 couldn’t even complete a speed test at all. I wasn’t able to perform the usual three tests on each due to lack of signal strength, but the tests I was able to perform showed a clear trend that the Pixel 7 was better at retaining and using its connection. .

Mbps speed test

This is perhaps the most important test of the three. In my experience with Pixel 6, I never had much trouble maintaining my connection in well-covered areas. It was in more rural locations that I always felt my phone was struggling and could actively see it drop a connection before the phones I had from Samsung and others. With Pixel 7, I noticed a marked increase, and this test helped put real numbers behind it.

Of course, speed tests don’t necessarily tell the whole story.

Will the Pixel 7 get better signal reception?

After running through these speed tests, I took all three phones around downtown Winston-Salem, which has strong 5G coverage on AT&T’s maps. Using NetMonitor, I measured the Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) of all three phones. On this scale, closer to 0 indicates a stronger signal, but you will rarely get anything close to that number.

Comparing the Pixel 6, Pixel 7, and Galaxy Z Fold 4 (note: although a network reset improved my Fold’s performance, there were still issues), I found that the results were roughly what I expected. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 led the pack, generally having the strongest connection at any given location. The Pixel 7 was about on par with this device, but gave up green a bit more often. And the Pixel 6, meanwhile, generally had the weakest connection of the three. The results below are an excerpt from more than 1,000 side-by-side samples taken while driving from downtown Winston-Salem to Wake Forest University for approximately 15 minutes.

RSSI test, closer to 0 is better

Experiences will always vary by region and carrier – we’ll look to update these results with testing on Verizon and/or T-Mobile if the opportunity arises – but there’s a clear pattern I’ve noticed in all these side-by-side comparisons. The Pixel 7 is a definite improvement. Signal strength tends to be at least slightly stronger, and speed tests are mostly better too. Google’s partner in Samsung has stepped up this time, and the numbers show it.

What do you think? Have you upgraded to the Pixel 7 and noticed a better signal? Have you had any issues with a Pixel 6 series device? Let’s talk!

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AT&T provided test lines for this article but had no input on our testing methodology or results.

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