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What we know about the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

By Jules Wang October 2, 2018, 1:30 pm

Believe it or not, the universe of rumors on the Pixel 3 span some 18 months.

Back in 2017, a lot of it had to do with the mundane nuts and bolts of how a Google phone comes together: who would be the contractor to make the phone? How will it compete in display technology? Would it even exist as a third-generation phone that way the Pixel and Pixel 2 have? Well, things started coming together at the start of this year, but not without a red herring leading us down a path that never got built.

Now, with the launch event just a week away, we’re taking the opportunity to look back at where the chatter went and where we’re headed. Hint: it’s New York.



  • HTC and LG, the companies that produced the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, respectively, were put into the running as contractors for the Pixel 3. LG’s OLED displays were definitely going to be a part of the story, but HTC’s fate wasn’t certain.
  • In the AOSP repository, Google typically codenames its Pixel (formerly Nexus) devices with species of fish. We got wind that those names would be albacore, bluefin and crosshatch. Just like last year, it would seem that three Pixel phones were being incubated. Would the third one come off the rails?
  • Google announced that it would be acquiring half of HTC’s hardware engineers and a bunch of intellectual property for $1.1 billion. So that took HTC out of the running for manufacturing the Pixel 3. The deal closed in January.

Spring 2018

  • The Economic Times reported in April that one Pixel device would be a mid-range phone for India and other “price-sensitive markets” targeted for launch in late summer.
  • Google had previously admitted that it would be doing its next Pixel release like clockwork. An Evan Blass tip affirmed it: there would be a fall event. There was also “high confidence” on the existence of a Pixel Watch, perhaps a test boat for a first-party Wear OS smartwatch.
  • Then we got our first visual leaks of the display framing. The small Pixel phone would be the first one with an extra-display. This was also where we found the XL version with a hefty notch.
  • WinFuture reported that Foxconn would be the primary manufacturer of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL and that we could see first supplies move out in “late August or September.” We also learned that the Pixel 3 XL’s notch would contain dual selfie cameras and that Verizon would sell the phones in the US exclusively for the third year in a row.
  • Shortly after the chipset debuted, the same publication’s Roland Quandt tweeted that Google was certainly working on a “mobile” device with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 710, but couldn’t be clear on whether it was a Pixel proper. From there, the chatter on this device dropped down.
  • We started June off with a clear view of a verifiable prototype of the Pixel 3 XL — “crosshatch” was its name.
  • The AOSP version of Android P was being modified to allow for wireless charging. Perhaps the Pixel 3 devices would be first to make use of that baked-in code?


  • By the end of July, we were full steam on visuals. This one was of the white color Pixel 3 XL.
  • Tough to find benchmark listings affirm what we’ve always believed Google would put down for specs: a Snapdragon 845. Shame about the 4GB of RAM, though.
  • The first guess at a Made by Google event date from August? October 4. Later in the month, that date got moved back to October 9.
  • Then came the litany of photos out of Toronto (twice) along with a full pre-review treatment of a device that was routed to Russia via what was supposedly a wayward shipping container. The same Russian source was also able to affirm that wireless charging would be available for the first time on a Pixel phone.
  • After that torrent, we finally had photos of the regular Pixel 3 leaked.


  • Google began sending invitations to its October 9 event on September 7.
  • That same day, Front Page Tech on YouTube told its viewers that it had received a request from Google to use a clip from one of its videos. Being a rampant critic of the notch design featured in Pixel 3 XL leaks, this led host Jon Prosser to suggest that those leaks were part of a conspiracy around a bezelless Pixel 3 XL.
  • A Google Japan page teased the three main colors we would see from the Pixel 3: black, white and green. Some wizard decided to post the page source code and reveal multiple colors that were argued to be under consideration. The box-frame minimalism also led conspiracy believers to point out the lack of notch.
  • Alas, more leaks in the last week of September demonstrate the non-notchedness of the Pixel 3 and the persistent display cover-up that users of the XL would have to deal with. One more Russian video is helping to seal the deal.

So, seven days out from this event, what have we learned about the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL and what have we learned about ourselves? Well, for one, the vitriol around bezels and notches is as fiery as it ever was — so much so that visual intelligence, usually a sure strike as we get closer and closer to launch, cannot be trusted and that something must be going on behind the scenes (take it from us: something is always going on behind the scenes). But alas, we still have plenty of time for the narrative to once again change around.

We won’t leave you rudderless, though. Full coverage continues through to event day with boots on the ground, right from Pocketnow.


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