Google may be launching a cheaper Pixel 3. Here’s what we know so far (and what we don’t).

Sarah Tew/CNET

As Google’s flagship phones, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are one of the best phones you can buy. They take exceptional photos (especially in low light), have unique software features from Google like Call Screen and are equipped with top-tier hardware. But starting at $799, £739 and AU$1,199 for the Pixel 3 and $899, £869 and AU$1,349 for the 3 XL, they also have steep price tags.

That’s why a less expensive, mid-range Pixel 3 would be such a compelling option for many. Like the Apple iPhone XR or Samsung Galaxy S10E, a Pixel 3 “Lite” (and 3 XL Lite), as it’s rumored to be called, would offer some of the same key features as the Pixel 3 at a lower price.

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL serve as Google’s ultimate take on its mobile operating system Android, which is the most popular OS in the world. In Feb. 2018, research firm IDC estimated that Google shipped 3.9 million original Pixels and Pixel 2phones in 2017. Though that figure pales in comparison to the total overall market (1.5 billion), the number of Pixel owners is growing. Given that the Pixel 3 Lite phones would be more affordable than past models, Google has a chance of increasing its sales by giving more options to budget phone buyers.

To learn about what has been rumored so far, read CNET’s roundup below. And if you’re curious about Google’s upcoming marquee phones, read the Pixel 4 and 4 XL rumor roundup here. Check back often; we’ll update both pieces whenever interesting rumors emerge.

Rumored: The Pixel 3 Lite could launch in August

In February, new filings from Google popped up on the FCC‘s site. Before then, it was suspected that the Pixel 3 Lite phones were listed under the model numbers G020B, for the 3 Lite, and G020F, for the 3 XL Lite. But then six additional listings popped up under Google’s name that could point to three different variants for each phone (possibly for different storage options), according to 9to5Google. SAR levels and radiation reports, which every phone has to comply to with the FCC,were also included in the filings.

Aside from the different storage options, the filings were also interesting in that the confidentiality agreement with the FCC is supposed to end in August. Google usually debuts Pixel phones in October, which could mean that the Lite phones will roll out before the successors to the Pixel 3 and 3 XL are announced.

Rumored: Google might release it with a Pixel smartwatch

Having acquired technology from the watch company Fossil for $40 million in January, it’s not surprising if Google has some wearable plans in the works. And according to an unconfirmed report from Asian blog site Nikkei, Google may launch its Lite 3 phone along with a Nest Cam, an updated Google Home and a Pixel-branded smartwatch.

Though there are many Android smartwatches, there has yet to be a Pixel-branded watch.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Rumored: We could see the Pixel 3 this year on Verizon

Citing a “source familiar with the company’s plan,” Android Police reported that the Pixel 3 Lite could come to Verizon in the spring of 2019. That wouldn’t be too surprising because Google has tapped Verizon as its exclusive carrier partner for its Pixel phones since its launch in 2016. (Though the phone still works on other carriers and Google sells the phone unlocked or on its Wi-Fi-first network, Google Fi).

Rumored: It allegedly has a headphone jack

In one of the earliest alleged leaks of the Pixel 3 Lite, a Russian blog called Rozetked posted photos of the supposed phone. The device’s design looked similar to the Pixel 3, which included the signature glass shade on the back and a brightly colored power button. However, the variant had larger bezels and a headphone jack (the Pixel 3/3 XL do not have the audio port).

But it’s important to take the images with a grain of salt. Though the device itself looked convincing, there appeared to be an odd C-shaped logo on the back where the typical Google logo would be.

Rozetked Pixel 3 Lite
A presumed image of the PIxel 3 XL.


Rumored: The phone might have a plastic body

Wysla, another Russian blog, also posted more purported images of the Pixel 3 Lite. In this batch of photos, the phone is set side-by-side other popular handsets including the iPhone XS and Pixel 3. According to the site the Pixel 3 Lite has a plastic body (instead of glass like the Pixel 3), a Snapdragon 670 chipset, no microSD slot and 4GB RAM/32GB of storage.


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