According to a recent report from Economic Times citing unnamed industry executives, Google may be planning to release a new Pixel-branded smartphone this year, designed primarily for emerging markets like India. The smartphone would fit in the mid-range category and could launch in India later this summer as part of the Internet search giant’s efforts to establish a retail foothold in the region and compete with industry juggernauts including Samsung and Apple. To this end, the report also suggests that Google intends on bringing the Home and Home Mini smart speakers to India by the end of April.
The launch of the original Pixel series in 2016 marked the end of Google’s Nexus smartphone lineup. The company’s smartphone strategy changed and Google became more focused on developing its own hardware, rather than partnering with other OEMs in order to create stock Android-powered smartphones under the Nexus brand. However, this also made Google’s own Android-powered handsets more expensive, and unlike Nexus devices, Pixel smartphones came with price tags higher than $500. That’s not to say that Google has ignored the low-end segment and emerging markets entirely, as the tech giant has prepared new low-end solutions in the form of the Android Go software platform designed specifically for entry-level hardware. No specifications of the rumored device are currently known, but looking at the hardware components of the 5-inch Pixel 2, it should be safe to assume that the mid-range handset would feature a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 or lower and could make use of a chipset from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400 or 600 series.
As the device is understood to be made for the mid-range market segment, it will likely ship with Android 8.1 Oreo or Android 9.0 P, depending on when exactly Google ends up releasing it, with sources claiming the product may be introduced in July or August. The next major iteration of the company's mobile operating system is set to hit the stable channel in the third quarter of the year, as per Google's previously revealed Android P roadmap.