There have been a plethora of rumors and leaks about the Google Pixel 2, which is set to launch later this year. It is said to be the first smartphone to run Google’s new Android O operating system. While the phone is still a few months away, Japanese blog HTC Soku (via XDA Developers) has found Google Pixel 2 references hidden in the HTC U11 system files.

Google Pixel 2 References
Image Source: Google Store (screenshot)

Google Pixel 2 references create further confusion

HTC, which is responsible for manufacturing the original Google Pixel and Pixel XL handsets, had referred to those devices as S1 and M1 respectively. Since the Taiwanese company has a two-year deal with Google, it is expected to be responsible for the production of at least one model of Pixel 2 line. HTC Soku found references to S2 and M2 in the system files of the recently launched HTC U11.

The code names S2 and M2 are widely expected to refer to the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2. The sighting of Google Pixel 2 references indicates that HTC might have been handling the development of two models of the upcoming flagship. Recently, there have been reports suggesting that LG Electronics would be manufacturing one model of Pixel 2, which has created some confusion among Pixel fans.

Who is manufacturing Pixel 2 – HTC or LG?

Let’s try to clear the confusion first. Code names found in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) suggest that the search engine giant is working on three versions of Pixel: Walleye, Muskie, and Taimen. Walleye is the smallest one while Taimen has the largest display among three phones. According to 9to5Google, LG Electronics is responsible only for Taimen.

It means HTC might have been working on Walleye (S2) and Muskie (M2). However, inside sources told Android Police that Google has killed the Muskie. The US company will reportedly launch Walleye (Pixel 2) and Taimen (Pixel XL 2). If the report turns out to be true, HTC will manufacture Google Pixel 2 while LG will be supplying the Google Pixel XL 2.

Another possibility is that the Google Pixel 2 references in HTC U11 were old and carried over. The reports about the cancellation of Muskie are rather recent. HTC is still expected to be handling Walleye. Considering the references were found in the system files of U11, XDA Developers speculates that the upcoming Pixel phones could be powered by Snapdragon 835.

LG manufacturing the Pixel XL 2 wouldn’t be a huge surprise. The Korean company has been working with Google for years. In fact, it was previously manufacturing the Nexus phones for Google. Earlier this year, Korean media claimed that Google was in advanced talks with LG to invest nearly $880 million in LG Display to secure the supply of OLED panels for Pixel 2.

Google Pixel 2 specs

Google reportedly ditched Muskie and decided to go with a bigger Taimen to compete with the Galaxy S8 Plus, which sports a 6.2-inch OLED display, and the upcoming Galaxy Note 8 with a 6.3-inch display. While the Muskie was said to have a 5.5-inch display, the Taimen is expected to feature a display that matches the Galaxy Note 8 in size to justify the “XL” tag.

Not much is known about the Google Pixel 2 camera. The upcoming iPhone 8 is rumored to have a dual camera, and the recently launched OnePlus 5 also sports a dual camera system. The Pixel 2 is also expected to have a dual camera on the back. Google has told media that the upcoming Pixel phones would continue to target the premium segment.

The Pixel 2 is rumored to have a curved OLED display similar to the Galaxy S8. The rumor mill expects the phone to feature 6GB RAM, a USB Type-C port, a 3800mAh battery, Fast Charging technology, and 128GB of internal storage. Last year’s Google Pixel lacked water-resistance, but the new Pixel 2 is expected to come with IP68 waterproofing capabilities.

The Pixel 2 is widely expected to be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor. However, Qualcomm has been working on an improved Snapdragon 836 chipset that would arrive later this year with the Galaxy Note 8 in August. The Pixel 2 would go on sale after the Note 8, which means it could also feature the latest Snapdragon 836 processor.

Pixel 2 release date

Last year’s Google Pixel and Pixel XL were launched in October. The Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 are expected to launch in the same month this year to benefit from the holiday shopping season. Since the phones will continue to serve the premium market, potential buyers can expect them to cost at least as much as the original Pixel or higher. The Pixel and Pixel XL have a price tag of $649 and $769, respectively.

The Google Pixel 2 will be competing against the Galaxy Note 8 and Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone 8.