The Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro are really all we can think about for tech in 2024. Google’s upcoming design and line-up change for the Pixel 9 series will be major and I would love nothing more than to fast forward to their late fall arrival. The Pixel 9 Pro, even before it is official, is the phone I want in my pocket.

That said, the Pixel 10 might be the true phone upgrade most will end up wanting. The conversation around why that is will be far too nerdy to keep the attention of most of us, so I’ll try and explain as simply as possible.

Ever heard of Samsung Foundry? What about TSMC? It’s OK if you haven’t.

These are two big names in the chipset space that help companies like Qualcomm and Samsung make chipsets like the Snapdragon series or Samsung’s Exynos line. The thing is, TSMC is largely thought to be the gold standard for making chips, while Samsung Foundry is often considered to be steps below. There are few better examples that show this than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and 8+ Gen 1, both of which released in 2022 by Qualcomm.

You may recall that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 was an overheating, battery weak, performance mess of a chip, while the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 dramatically improved all of those areas only months later. Samsung Foundry made that original 8 Gen 1 chip and Qualcomm then switched to TSMC for the 8+ Gen 1. My review of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 summed up my findings between the two chips nicely.

Qualcomm has since used TSMC for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and 8 Gen 3. They are expected to use TSMC for the upcoming Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 as well.

What does all of this mean for the Pixel 9 vs. the Pixel 10? Well, Google’s Tensor chips are made by Samsung Foundry. We’re talking about the Tensor, Tensor G2, and the current Tensor G3. The upcoming Tensor G4 that will land in the Pixel 9 series is once again expected to be a Samsung Foundry-made chip.

As many of you know from owning any of the Pixel phones from the Pixel 6 up through the current Pixel 8, Tensor chips have issues. They tend to get hot, can’t hang with the best performers from Qualcomm, and certainly don’t boast top battery life scores. Their connectivity issues haven’t improved much over the years either, but that’s mostly a modem thing.

Since the Tensor G4 is likely thought to be made by Samsung Foundry, we have no idea if the Pixel 9 will see big improvements over previous Tensor chips. That said, Google is preparing to switch to TSMC for the Tensor G5 and what could be their first truly custom chipset. It could mean big things, assuming TSMC can do for Tensor what it did for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon.

Over the weekend, supposed evidence confirming this change showed up. The folks at Android Authority dug into trade databases that purportedly confirm the switch from Samsung Foundry to TSMC. If you care deeply about the tiny details around that confirmation, feel free to read their story. But for most of us, all we can about is that the evidence continues to point in the direction of a switch to TSMC. This was first rumored in July 2023 and then later backed by a roadmap leak in September 2023. This latest evidence is a good sign of things to come, assuming it holds up.

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