Tesla is famous for its electric cars, but some fans hope that the company is going to expand its remit and produce its own smartphone – something that CEO Elon Musk has even fuelled with a few provocative tweets.
Here’s all we know so far about the mysterious Tesla Model Pi, including whether there’s really any reason to believe that Tesla is making a phone at all.
Will the Tesla Model Pi be released?
At the moment, as far as we can tell, the Tesla Model Pi remains very much in the realms of speculation. Tesla has made no announcements regarding a move into this area and Musk himself debunked the rumour in 2020, calling smartphones “yesterday’s technology.”
This refers to the development of chips that can be implanted in the brain to then allow devices to be controlled by the electrical impulses created when we think. One of Musk’s companies, Neuralink Corporation, is already heavily involved in developing this technology, but it will probably be a long time before having yourself ‘chipped’ will be a real thing.
Still, there is some reason to think that Musk is either developing a phone or considering it. In the wake of speculation (started by Musk himself, it’s worth adding) that Apple was considering evicting Twitter from the App Store, the social network’s new owner did suggest that he would make his own phone, but only “if there is no other choice.”
The long and short of it is that there’s no reason at all to believe Musk or any of his companies are currently developing smartphone tech, but there is a chance he would consider it in the future.
How much would the Tesla Model Pi cost?
That would be anyone’s guess. If it contains half the features speculated on by fans, there’s a good chance that it would be at the upper end of the market, but since there’s no real evidence of an actual phone, any price would be pure speculation.
What features and specs could we see in the Tesla Model Pi?
Ok. Hold onto your hats. With the Model Pi something of an urban legend at the moment, the rumour mill has gone into quite strange territory when it comes to the kind of features Tesla could introduce with its debut phone.
Concept artistAntonio De Rosa has created some lovely images that show off the potential design choices Tesla could make, although of course this is entirely conceptual and not based on any hard schematic evidence.
Probably the most realistic of all the rumours is that of Tesla incorporating solar panels into the device to allow recharging without the need for an electrical power source. This makes sense, as it would fit with the ecologically minded Tesla brand, while also making use of the solar technology already developed by the company.
Whether solar charging tech is ready to keep a phone topped up all day, especially when the phone itself spends most of its time in your pocket or bag, is another matter entirely of course.
There’s also quite reasonable stories of the Model Pi integrating closely with Tesla cars, allowing greater control over settings and features when on the move.
Moving to the more fanciful, there are plenty of reports that the Model Pi will use the Starlink service provided by Musk’s SpaceX company. This is essentially satellite-based fast broadband that should provide coverage in many areas where 5G fears to tread.
Satellite connectivity has begun to appear in phones like the iPhone 14 series and the Huawei Mate 50 Pro, but the implementation has been basic, and primarily intended for simple emergency communications over text at times when regular signal is unavailable. Fans are hoping that any Starlink integration would be more sophisticated.
Remember the Neuralink technology we mentioned earlier? Well, plenty of fans are hoping that the Model Pi will be compatible with the Brain-Machine-Interface (BMI) chips that would allow users to control their devices by thought.
While this sounds incredibly interesting, if trying to get Siri to call the right person or Alexa to select the correct music track is anything to go by, the idea of a mind-control phone could be the stuff of nightmares.
Finally, the most crackers of all the popular rumours we’ve seen is that the Starlink technology will allow the Model Pi to work on Mars. Yep, Mars.
Frankly, we’d be more impressed if Tesla could fix it so that we got a decent signal in the local coffee shop rather than on Olympus Mons. That would be a real breakthrough.
Martyn has been involved with tech ever since the arrival of his ZX Spectrum back in the early 80s. He covers iOS, Android, Windows and macOS, writing tutorials, buying guides and reviews for Macworld and its sister site Tech Advisor.