The idea of a Tesla phone, rumored to be called Model Pi/P, has been circulating the internet. But how likely is a smartphone release? No credible sources have convinced us of its existence, but it got us thinking: what would a smartphone from the world’s most valuable automaker actually look like?
When Will the Tesla Phone Be Released?
Tesla has a history of releasing interesting, though still on-brand products like the Cybertruck-inspired all-electric vehicle for kids, an umbrella with their logo stamped on it, and a stainless-steel whistle. Adding a smartphone to the mix wouldn’t be nearly as unexpected, but its release isn’t actually as believable as those other items, at least not yet.
There are a few primary reasons we’re questioning whether this phone is due for a real release:
- Most of the rumors can be traced to an early 2021 YouTube video from adrstudiodesign, but it’s clearly stated those are the designer’s ideas, not real leaks or details from Tesla. Most of the ideas we’ve seen appear to be based off that source.
- We’ll get into these more below, but the ideas for this phone are a bit too advanced to be realistic right now, like Neuralink support and connectivity on Mars. Granted, those capabilities might not be planned in the first iteration of the phone, so it doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be fully developed in order to see a more basic device from Tesla. It’s reasonable to be skeptical when those ideas are thrown around this early.
- If one of the distant side effects, or even plans, of brain-connected technology like Neuralink is to phase out phones altogether, it’d be counterproductive to put work into one.
Definitely not. Smartwatches & phones are yesterday’s technology, Neuralinks are the future.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 14, 2020
Tesla Phone Price Rumors
A phone with all the advanced tech described below, would absolutely cost more than a few thousand dollars. Subsequent versions might come down in price as more people start using the technology, but don’t expect the first iteration to be affordable for most people.
If, however, as we theorize, the Tesla Model Pi starts off relatively basic with just a few of the rumored features, we might see it at a more sensible $800-$1,200.
Here’s what we’ve heard.
- Satellite internet: SpaceX’s space-based internet service Starlink has close ties to Tesla (Elon Musk is the CEO of both). There’s even a case to be made a Tesla phone could help finance Mars colonization, a goal of the company since it was founded. But they’d have to find a way to not only conceal the bulky antenna satellite phones have but guarantee good service from such a small device. One theory is it would work only where there’s already a Starlink base, like in a building or, if it ever happens, a Tesla car fitted with the appropriate antenna.
- Solar charging: Tesla manufactures solar panels as well as vehicles, so this isn’t a far-fetched idea. It’s unlikely the phone would rely only on solar, but it could have a Tesla-branded case which enables some amount of solar charging.
- Vehicle control: There’s already a Tesla app for phones to perform some basic car functions: lock/unlock the car, control media playback, and summon the vehicle. This app would most assuredly be preinstalled on the phone, if not built-in to the operating system for easy access directly from the lock screen or via external buttons. It’s also possible the app would offer unique options only to Tesla phone owners.
- Astrophotography: Current phones already use AI and powerful cameras to help when photographing the night sky. Add that functionality to SpaceX’s extraterrestrial focus that would inevitably bleed over into this phone, and you’ve got a device capable of great photos of astronomical objects.
- Crypto mining: Other hearsay is it’ll mine cryptocurrency. Musk has been public about cryptocurrencies in the past, so it’s not unreasonable to assume he’d want to embed this ability in a phone. While Bitcoin is more popular, and Musk presumably prefers the existing Dogecoin, the rumor is Tesla’s phone would mine a new coin called Marscoin.
- Neuralink support: The idea of computers interfacing with the brain is still essentially science fiction, and Neuralink is one of the companies working on it. They say they’re “designing the first neural implant that will let you control a computer or mobile device anywhere you go.”…with the activity of your brain, just by thinking about it. Could the first phone capable of such a feat be from Tesla? An early iteration could run on any phone with the Neuralink app, but it’d also make sense to see it here, considering Musk owns Neuralink.
It’s far more reasonable to see something more tame become available first—i.e., those first four or five features only, tied in with a Tesla-branded version of Android.
If this phone is real, and Tesla holds out a release until implantable brain-machine interfaces are available, we’ll surely have to wait several more years. While it’s true Musk wants this tech to be used in humans beginning in 2022, it wouldn’t be available to everyone right away because the first goal of the technology is to help people with paralysis.
Tesla Phone Specs and Hardware
Assumptions are all anyone can run on right now, and with zero reliable sources to use, it’s unclear what this phone could look like on the inside. It’d surely have all the standard components, like 1–2 TB of storage, 16 GB or more of RAM, an AMOLED display, and a screen around 6.5 inches.
As for the outside, check out the Tesla Model P concept designs created by ADR Studio, the source of most of these rumors. There are high-quality pictures you can look through.