Google remains committed to Verizon in regards to its Android smartphone initiative and won't be partnering with other American wireless carriers in the near future, new reports indicate. An insider cited by AP now claims the Alphabet-owned company is planning to launch mid-range Android handsets called the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 XL Lite on Verizon next spring, though no other details on the matter are currently known. Verizon served as Google's U.S. carrier partner for all three generations of the Pixel family and while Google-made smartphones are also sold unlocked in the country, the vast majority of sales made by the company over the last two years are believed to be attributable to Verizon given how the stateside mobile market largely depends on network operators, with few consumers paying for their handsets upfront.
A truly odd one (or two)
The very existence of the Pixel 3 Lite is highly puzzling given how Google has so far been adamant to make the Pixel product range all about the ultra-premium end of the mobile price bracket, delivering what's essentially a benchmark of what stock Android is capable of. The company already dabbled in the mid-range segment of the market with some success, having most recently done so three years back with the Nexus 5X, a device created in collaboration with LG whose software support ended this year. Since then, Google gave no indication of being interested in getting involved with non-flagship mobile projects, though the sheer volume of recent rumors about the Pixel 3 Lite suggests its product strategy changed at some point this year.
The devices themselves have already been sighted on several occasions, or at least their prototype were, courtesy of certain Russian sources. They look nearly identical to this year's Pixel 3 range with one notable exception – both lack a display notch and instead use a less polarizing 18:9 (2:1) aspect ratio. The front-facing dual-camera setup Google implemented into the Pixel 3 XL also doesn't appear to be part of the upcoming mid-range package, with the overall form factor of the new Android handsets being rather similar to the 2017 Pixel 2 XL. Previous rumors point to one of Qualcomm's latest chips powering the two smartphones, with the most likely candidates being the Snapdragon 670 and Snapdragon 710.
The Pixel 3 Lite is understood to be featuring a 5.5-inch display panel, whereas its larger counterpart is expected to sport a 6-inch screen, with both supposedly offering 32GB of storage space which won't be expandable via a microSD card slot. 4GB of RAM should also be on board of both devices which will allow for a somewhat surprising return of a 3.5mm headphone jack which Google removed in 2017. The front camera of both phones is said to be an 8-megapixel affair, whereas their rear setups are said to be utilizing a 12-megapixel sensor. As Google is already saving production costs in the chip, memory, and some other departments, there's a possibility it equips the Pixel 3 Lite line with the same main camera used by the Pixel 3 flagships. In that scenario, the incoming phablets would actually rely on a single 12.2-megapixel sensor.
Regardless of their imaging hardware of choice, the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 XL Lite will almost certainly feature the same Camera app as their flagship peers, hence offering an abundance of artificial intelligence solutions making the absolute most of optics that are likely going to be far from industry-leading. While no firm pricing information on either device has yet emerged and Google's last mid-ranger debuted at $380 in the U.S., smartphone prices have been steadily increasing over the last three years and a price tag under $400 now seems unlikely.
Besides the devices themselves, Google's timing also appears to be odd; the U.S. mobile market has never been more saturated and is now extremely focused on high-end handsets, with carriers offering many consumer-friendly deals that make purchasing such devices worth it to many consumers. The flagship Pixel 3 series is also far from an established name in the industry, even though it's been gaining some traction since its 2016 debut. Still, with Google falling behind in the mobile photography race this year, the number of selling points attached to its devices is now smaller than ever, especially after the company's very name has been dragged to mud in recent times due to a wide variety of scandals, controversies, and polarizing decisions made by its management.