Google fans are eagerly looking forward to the launch of second-generation Pixel phones. The smaller 4.97-inch Pixel 2 will be manufactured by Taiwan-based HTC. Notably, HTC was also Google’s manufacturing partner for the last year’s Pixel and Pixel XL phones. A new report coming out of China claims Google is in advanced talks to acquire the Pixel 2 manufacturer HTC.

Google Pixel 2 Manufacturer HTC
Image source: YouTube Video Screenshot

The Pixel 2 manufacturer has been struggling for years

Sources familiar with the matter told Chinese publication Commercial Times that Google is interested in buying the Pixel 2 manufacturer’s smartphone business. The search engine giant will likely leave out the Vive VR operations. The deal size is not yet known. Google would either take a controlling stake or buy out the entire smartphone business of HTC, which has been struggling for years.

HTC has been going through a rough patch for years. The emergence of Chinese Android vendors such as Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and OnePlus has eroded its market share. The company just reported its worst financial month in more than a decade. Its August 2017 revenues plunged 54% compared to the same period a year ago. HTC’s earnings in June and July were driven by the launch of HTC U11, but euphoria for the device didn’t last more than two months.

Will this deal be similar to Motorola or something more?

The report shouldn’t come as a surprise. Last month, Bloomberg reported that the Pixel 2 manufacturer was in talks with multiple companies including Google to acquire its VR division or the entire company. Google and HTC are no strangers. They worked together on Nexus One back in 2009. The two also joined hands for the Nexus 9 tablet.

The deal reminds one of Google’s Motorola acquisition for $12.5 billion in 2012. Google said at the time that it didn’t want Motorola’s patents to get into the hands of Microsoft or Apple. Motorola had maintained its independence even after being acquired by Google.  Two years later, Google sold Motorola (excluding patents) to Lenovo for $2.9 billion.

If the deal goes through, it will make a lot of sense. Apple devices just work because the Cupertino company controls both the hardware and software of the iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Macs. Google has been trying to do the same with Pixel phones. The original Pixel was not as successful as the iPhones, but it was praised by critics and users alike. Google controls both the software and hardware aspects of Pixel devices.

As the search engine giant looks to challenge Apple’s dominance, it needs to have a tight control over all the aspects of its premium smartphones. It would place Google in a better position to challenge Apple by offering better, more streamlined experiences. It also means that Google could disappoint some of its largest partners such as Samsung and LG Electronics.

The deal is unlikely to complete before the Google Pixel 2 hits the store shelves. Neither Google nor HTC has made it official. Once they announce the acquisition, it would take several months to complete the transaction. The Pixel 2 will go on sale in a few weeks. While HTC is making the Pixel 2, LG will be responsible for the larger Pixel XL 2.

Google Pixel 2 specs and release date

The second-generation Pixel phones are said to launch with 4GB RAM and 64GB of base internal storage. The Pixel 2 would feature front-facing stereo speakers, an IP68 rating for water-resistance, a USB Type-C port, and a single-camera setup on the back. Just like its predecessor, the new phone will stick to electronic image stabilization (EIS) rather than switching to optical image stabilization (OIS). Google has reportedly decided not to incorporate a dual camera in Pixel 2.

The next-gen Pixel phones will run Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset, though more recent rumors claim a newer Snapdragon 836 SoC would power these devices. Other features likely to be included in Pixel 2 are a “squeezable frame” similar to HTC U11 and an Always-On display. Premium smartphones from Samsung and LG already offer an Always-On display.

Evan Blass, whose leaks usually turn out to be notoriously accurate, claims the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 smartphones will be unveiled on October 5. The devices will go on sale later in October. The Pixel 2 will be competing against Apple’s iPhone 8, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8, and LG V30 for consumers’ attention and money.

Pixel 2 to do away with the headphone jack

Surprisingly, Google will ditch the 3.5mm audio jack. To make up for the removal of the headphone jack, the company will reportedly offer a USB Type-C to 3.5mm dongle in the Pixel 2 boxes. Recently, Android code revealed that the tech giant is also working on wireless headphones similar to Apple’s AirPods under the code-name “Bisto.”

The Bisto headphones will have dedicated buttons to activate Google Assistant, hear and reply to notifications. To make the listening experience better on wireless headphones, the company has added support for advanced Bluetooth codecs such as aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC in Android Oreo. It’s difficult to say whether Google will include the new wireless headphones in the Pixel 2 box or sell them separately.