The Google Pixel 4 may have better dual SIM functionality, according to a Googler

Although we’re nowhere near October, we’ve already heard a lot about Google’s smartphone plans for 2019. That’s because Google is working on new “Lite” models of their Google Pixel 3 smartphones. We’ve seen physical evidence that Google is preparing to launch a Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 Lite XL, and a reliable source says the two devices will launch on Verizon in early 2019. Besides the obvious fact that the late 2019 Google Pixel 4 will run Android Q out of the box, we haven’t heard anything else about the upcoming smartphones. A new commit in the Android Open Source Project Gerrit tells us that Google is adding property values in the framework and Telephony service to tell if a device has hardware support for multiSIM functionality. What’s more interesting to us is a comment left by a Googler in one of the commits. The comment states that the 2019 Pixel will have dual SIM functionality.

For some background, the Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 3 have both a regular SIM slot and an eSIM. Although you can provision the eSIM to connect to many supported carriers, you cannot use the “physical SIM network and the eSIM network simultaneously,” according to Google’s @MadeByGoogle support account on Twitter. What this means is that the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 support Dual SIM, Single Standby (DSSS). While you can have two SIMs provisioned to two different networks, you can’t receive calls or texts to the inactive SIM slot. On the other hand, the latest iPhones, and many dual SIM Android smartphones, support Dual SIM, Dual Standby (DSDS). This means that the other SIM can receive calls or texts so long as the primary SIM slot isn’t actively being used for the same purpose. Lastly, there’s Dual SIM, Dual Active (DSDA), in which both SIM slots can be actively used for calls, texts, or data simultaneously. Although the Pixel 3 doesn’t have the hardware to support DSDA (it lacks a second radio), it should be able to support DSDS like the newest iPhones. Better dual SIM support is a feature that some Pixel owners have asked for since the Pixel 2 was released because having multiple lines can be useful for those who often travel for business.

In several commits submitted to the AOSP Gerrit, Google is defining support for “dual SIM mode” in Android Q. The new system property value is meant to “differentiate devices that support enablement of dual SIM mode from those that don’t, even if they have two or more SIM cards.” A new function returns the value true if “the usage of multiple SIM cards at the same time to register on the network (e.g. Dual Standby or Dual Active) is supported by the device and by the carrier.” In the comments of the commit that sets up the SELinux policy for this new boolean, a Googler states that 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).”

Google Pixel 4 dual SIM

My guess is that the late 2019 Google Pixel 4 will support using the eSIM and regular SIM in dual standby mode, like on the latest iPhone models. This would be possible on the 2017 Google Pixel 2 and 2018 Google Pixel 3, as shown by the fact that Google is testing the software stability of this feature on the Google Pixel 3 XL. However, we don’t know if Google plans on updating its earlier models with better dual SIM support. We also don’t know if the upcoming Google Pixel 3 Lite or Pixel 3 Lite XL will support dual SIM dual standby.

Thanks @Aeeeb_Ping for the tip!

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