The newly announced HTC U11 Plus is actually the original Google Pixel 2 XL codenamed "Muskie" which was scrapped by the Alphabet-owned company in June in favor of an LG Electronics-made alternative known as "Taimen" which ended up becoming today's Pixel 2 XL, The Verge reported on Thursday, citing an insider familiar with Google and HTC's recent collaboration. The Android flagship that the Taiwanese original equipment manufacturer announced some hours back wasn't as refined as it is now when presented to Google for approval earlier this year, but many of its core aspects including slimmer bezels, a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner that's a rarity for HTC devices, stereo speakers, and a pressure-sensitive frame remained the same.
HTC was presumably unwilling to have its research and development resources committed to Muskie go unused, which appears to have prompted the company to revise the device and launch it under its own brand. Apart from having a larger battery than the Pixel 2 XL, the U11 Plus also utilizes a traditional LCD panel over an LG-made POLED one, with their 6-inch diagonals, QHD+ resolutions, and 18:9 aspect ratios being the same. The cameras of the two phablets are also different, with the U11 Plus succeeding the imaging systems of the original U11 and the Pixel 2 XL and its smaller counterpart having new systems which were in part developed by Google.
HTC didn't officially confirm that the U11 Plus is a repurposed Pixel 2 XL concept and almost certainly never well, though it remains to be seen how effective will the company be at continuing to innovate in the mobile space after it sold a significant portion of its engineering talent to Google. Many of the same people who designed both the Pixel 2 and the rejected Pixel 2 XL concept are set to change employers by early 2018, with Google paying $1.1 billion for that privilege and the sum also providing the company with the rights to use HTC's patent portfolio. The latest development sheds more light on the fate of Muskie and the complex Pixel 2 project that included three tech giants and numerous prototypes, having resulted in what are widely regarded as some of the best Android smartphones ever created.