Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verg
Google’s recently announced Pixel 4 is reportedly skipping out on a launch in India — one of the largest phone markets in the world — due to a spectrum licensing issue with the Motion Sense radar technology that powers the phone’s gesture and face unlocking features, according to NDTV’s Gadgets360.
Per the report, the problem is that Motion Sense (previously known as Project Soli) works on the 60GHz band of the spectrum, for which Google was apparently unable to get a license from the Indian government to use in the country. Still, not shipping the phone in India is somewhat strange, given that Google is planning to launch the device in Japan without Motion Sense features, which won’t be arriving on devices in that country until “spring 2020,” per a Google support page.
The company would not confirm that the Pixel 4’s lack of availability in India was due to Soli, but it did confirm that it would not be selling the phone in the market. “Google has a wide range of products that we make available in different regions around the world. We determine availability based on a variety of factors, including local trends, and product features. We decided not to make Pixel 4 available in India accordingly,” a Google spokesperson tells The Verge.
Given that the Indian smartphone market is largely dominated by cheaper devices from companies like Samsung, Xiaomi, and Vivo, pricier flagship devices like Apple’s iPhones or Google’s Pixels tend to struggle to make an impact. Add in the prospect that an Indian model would have to miss out on the Pixel 4’s new marquee features, and it’s easy to see how Google decided to simply skip out a launch entirely.
It’s not the end of Pixel devices in India, though: Google’s spokesperson added that the company is still “committed to [its] current Pixel phones and look[s] forward to bringing future Pixel devices to India.” But if you’re a Pixel fan in India, you’ll likely have to look elsewhere for a new phone this fall.
Update October 16th, 7:56PM ET: Added statement from Google.