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 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 an actual release:
- Most of the rumors come from an early 2021 YouTube video from adrstudiodesign, but they clearly state those are the designer's ideas, not real leaks or details from Tesla. Most of the rumors we've seen appear to be based on 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. Those capabilities don't have to be in the phone's first iteration, so a device could still be in the works without them. 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.
If those reasons aren't enough, consider this comment from Telsa's CEO on the future of smartphones:
Some estimates provide an ambitious release date of 2022, but we'll take Musk's tweet as evidence that these rumors are simply fantasies. Granted, Tesla could still release a phone in the future, but there's no reason to believe it'll happen with the information we currently have. If (that's a big if) this phone is genuinely being worked on in secret, and every rumor is accurate, there's little chance we'd see it until closer to 2030.
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A phone with all the advanced tech described below would cost more than a few thousand dollars. Subsequent versions could come down in price as more people start using the technology, but we wouldn't expect the first iteration to be affordable for most people.
Assuming the phone is real (again, we don't think so) and that it would start relatively basic with just a few of the rumored features, it'd likely sit at a more sensible $800-$1,200.
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We imagine an announcement many months before the official release, and pre-orders could start early. But without a release date to reference, we have no idea when pre-orders for the Tesla phone could start.
We'll provide any relevant links about pre-ordering here, assuming we come across reliable information about a release.
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Considering Tesla's over-the-top features in their existing products, like the Cybertruck's nearly impenetrable exoskeleton and bioweapon defense mode in some of their other vehicles, the rumors about this phone aren't surprising.
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 potential for the Tesla phone to help finance Mars colonization, a company goal since its founding. 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 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 and 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 that enables some amount of solar charging.
- Vehicle control: There's already a Tesla app for phones to perform 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 (a name Musk himself has tweeted about). Some serious hardware would need to be implemented for this to work reliably.
- 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 tamer 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 have to wait several more years. While it's true Musk wants this tech to be trialed 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.
Assumptions are all anyone can run on with this phone, and with zero reliable sources to use, it's unclear what this phone could look like on the inside. It would have all the standard components, like 1–2 TB of storage, 16 GB or more 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 renderings you can look through beyond the ones we have used in this article.