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Hidden Google Play info on new ‘Pixel 3a’ phones suggests a ‘midyear’ release

Hidden Google Play info on new ‘Pixel 3a’ phones suggests a ‘midyear’ release


The Pixel 3a, as it’s believed to be called, might be arriving soon

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Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

We’ve been hearing for months about the pair of Google’s new midrange Pixel 3 devices coming out this year, and now a Redditor (via 9to5Google) has unearthed even more information about the handsets that points, more than ever, to a summer release date. Thanks to the Google Play Console, the software that allows Android developers to manage apps submitted to the company’s mobile marketplace, the Redditor was able to pull out two new device profiles for codenamed “bonito” and “sargo” phones, widely assumed to be the new midrange Pixel 3 devices.

More telling is that these phones are listed as “midyear experiences,” indicating that Google intends to launch them sometime soon, perhaps at its I/O developer conference in May. At a higher level, it indicates that Google could be introducing a new rhythm to its release cadence for Pixel devices, with a midrange refresh slotted right in the middle of the standard 12-month cycle it’s copied from Apple, Samsung, and others.

According to the spec sheets, both will feature 4GB of RAM and nearly identical displays, although Sargo appears to have a slight bump in resolution (from 1080 x 2160 to 1080 x 2220) and an increase in DPI from 400 to 440. Given those numbers, 9to5Google is speculating that Sargo is the smaller of the two devices with a 5.6-inch display, while Bonito is the larger 6-inch one, despite the aquatic naming scheme seeming to suggest otherwise.

Google’s upcoming midrange Pixel 3 devices are all but confirmed at this point

Over the last few months, a ton of details about these phones have leaked out, primarily thanks to 9to5Google and XDA-developers. Both had a hand in corroborating that the device names are likely not “lite” variants on the traditional Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, but instead will be released as the Pixel 3a and 3a XL. We also now believe with some confidence that both will feature OLED panels, a Snapdragon 670 processor, a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 3,000 mAh battery.

It’s unclear when these devices will be announced, but if we go off the “midyear experience” line, we can assume it will be sometime in the next few months. And that change is certainly a peculiar one. Google has established a regular one-year cadence for its flagship smartphone line, and that means we are very likely to see the Pixel 4 get announced this October. If Google does want to get into the midrange game, it has to announce these devices soon or be forced to sell a device that very well might go head to head with discounted versions of the standard Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

It’s certainly no surprise that Google may want to tap into a larger market that goes beyond the high-end flagship level, where Apple and Samsung dominate. But the timing window is a tricky one here, and doesn’t leave Google a lot of room to make this announcement and properly market where these phones fit into its lineup if it’s going to turn around and announce a whole new flagship refresh a few months later.

That said, there could be a big market for the stock Android experience combined with Google’s stellar hardware design and software camera chops, all in a more affordable package. If the price is low enough, it may not matter what the Pixel 4 looks like or how cheap the Pixel 3 or even the Pixel 2 becomes after October.