Google officially announced its highly anticipated Pixel 4 series earlier today at a jam-packed event that also introduced a slew of hardware under the ‘Made by Google’ branding. The flagship phones naturally stole the show and drew strong attention from the countries where they’re slated to be available soon. One country that’s missing from this list is India, a key overseas market for Google that’s usually among the first ones to receive new hardware. The company has clarified in a statement to India Today that its 2019 smartphones aren’t headed to the nation due to some regulatory issues with the Soli radar.
Controlling the Pixel 4 with basic hand gestures is enabled by a miniature radar —Soli — housed inside the phone’s forehead. The radar uses a 60GHz frequency band to attain the advertised accuracy, and that’s exactly where the problem lies. India has reserved this mmWave band only for military and government use for now and it needs to un-license this frequency before allowing civilian use for applications like Soli. On the other hand, the FCC gave its nod to Google’s radar tech last January for use in the US. Incidentally, Japan wasn’t expected to get the Soli feature either, but its status has since changed to ‘coming soon’ after the phone’s announcement.
The report adds that Google did consider disabling the radar for the units sold in India, but it still wouldn’t have guaranteed a sales permit, and removing the hardware wasn’t an option. The South Asian country will eventually have to follow the global trend and open the 60GHz band for unlicensed use as newer Wi-Fi standards depend on this frequency for providing multi-gigabit internet speeds. Even if the local government decides to change course in the coming months, Google will still lose a huge chunk of its annual business by not bringing the handsets to the Indian market during the ongoing festive season that’ll last until later this month.
- India Today
- Gurkanwal Singh