Phonemakers battling over production contract for the Pixel 3, report claims

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The competition over who will get to produce the future of Google’s flagship phones could make those phones better and more readily available for purchase.

As Google prepares the successor to the Pixel and Pixel XL due for release later in 2017, the battle has apparently already begun over who will get to manufacture the third iteration of the flagship Android phone.

HTC is once again in the running, along with LG, current Blackberry producer TCL, and Coolpad, according to Chinese publication Commercial Times by way of Digitimes. Google’s existing contract with HTC will expire after the release of the Pixel 2, so says the report, opening up an opportunity for other hardware companies. LG is purportedly leading the race, though Commercial Times does not elaborate as to why.


Since September, HTC has reportedly shipped more than 2.1 million Pixel devices, but Google may be looking to ramp output up to 5 million in time for the Pixel 3. Meanwhile, most variants of the original Pixel — especially the XL — remain out of stock about six months after the phone’s launch, as HTC continues to struggle to fill orders quickly enough.

Remember, too, that HTC may not have been Google’s first choice to build the Pixel, but rather Huawei, according to the accounts of multiple executives from the Chinese tech firm last fall. Keeping this in mind along with the supply-side constraints, it’s possible Google is more confident in LG’s manufacturing capabilities, given that the companies have worked together on multiple Nexus phones in the past.

Commercial Times’ report comes shortly after rumors that Google could be planning a third, larger version of the Pixel 2 for release, codenamed “Taimen.” This article only mentions the “Muskie” and “Walleye” devices we’ve already heard about, which lends credence to the theory that Google is simply testing a variety form factors for the next Pixel, but still only plans to release two of them.

There is also the chance of a lower-end Pixel phone named the 2B that broke early in the rumor cycle, though more recent reports — including a statement from Google’s Senior Vice President of Hardware Rick Osterloh — suggest that the Pixel brand will stay premium, and the 2B could instead fit into the Android One family.


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