Google may be working on 2 mid-range Pixel phones for 2020: One with the 5G Snapdragon 765 and another with the 4G Snapdragon 730
Every October, we expect Google to release a new Pixel smartphone. In 2016, the company unveiled its first-generation Pixel and Pixel XL. In 2017, we saw the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. There were no surprises in 2018 when Google announced the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Last year, however, Google threw a curveball by announcing the first mid-range Pixel phones in the Pixel 3a and 3a XL at Google I/O 2019. Though the company did later reveal the Pixel 4 and 4 XL in October of last year, the introduction of the 3a series has us anticipating a follow-up for this year. Indeed, @Onleaks, a famous leaker of smartphones, shared CAD renders of what’s likely going to be the mid-2020 Pixel 4a.
Earlier today, Twitter user @akes29 sent us a tip with some code-names he discovered that he believed pertained to new 2020 Pixel devices. We dug through the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), the latest Pixel 4 firmware dump from this month, and the latest versions of several Google applications and found 3 new device code-names along with the SoC platforms they’re based on. These code-names suggest that Google may be working on more than one mid-range 2020 Pixel—one of which is likely the Pixel 4a. Assuming Google doesn’t break with its tradition of launching a smaller and XL model for each new Pixel generation, then we expect there to be a Pixel 4a XL as well. However, that might not be the case this year—YouTuber Dave Lee claims there won’t be a 4a XL model. We’re taking this claim with a grain of salt, though, since Lee doesn’t cite any specific evidence. Furthermore, Lee’s claim is contradicted by 9to5Google‘s earlier report on the existence of an XL model. Our discovery today backs up 9to5Google’s report, though sadly, we’re unable to directly link any of these code-names to actual products this far in advance.
New Fishy Code-names for the 2020 Pixel Phones
If you’re unfamiliar, Google’s internal code-name for each of its Pixel (and Nexus) smartphones relates to some kind of fish. When we first see rumors of Google’s next Pixel devices, we usually start out with their code-names. The earliest rumors of the 2018 Pixels were about their code-names: blueline (which launched as the Pixel 3), crosshatch (which launched as the Pixel 3 XL), albacore (never launched), and wahoo (which is the unified kernel for the Pixel 3 and 3 XL). Even Google’s unreleased, HTC-made Pixel 2 XL had a fishy code-name (muskie.) For reference, here’s a list of all the Pixel phones and their code-names.
|Pixel 2 XL||taimen|
|Pixel 3 XL||crosshatch|
|Pixel 3a XL||bonito|
|Pixel 4 XL||coral|
Last April, 9to5Google spotted a reference to a Google device code-named needlefish. A device with this code-name has yet to launch, though we have seen it referenced in multiple Google apps. Twitter user @akes29 pointed us to evidence that needlefish may just be Google’s Snapdragon 855-based development board, as the device seems to be based on the “sm8150p” platform. Sm8150 is the code-name for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, while sm8150p seems to be the specific code-name for the Snapdragon 855 Mobile Hardware Development Kit. While we can’t definitively rule out the possibility of needlefish showing up as a commercial product, it seems less likely given recent evidence. That brings us to the 3 new code-names we discovered: sunfish, redfin, and bramble.
We spotted the “sunfish” code-name in an AOSP repository, and it’s directly stated to be based on the sm7150 platform. That’s the code-name for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 730 SoC, an SoC for upper mid-range devices. This SoC can be found in devices like the Redmi K30, Realme X2, and Samsung Galaxy A71, and it doesn’t support a 5G modem. Sunfish has two development branches: one based on Android 10 and another based on Android 11. Since we also spotted the sunfish code-name in a string in the Google app alongside other Pixel devices, it’s likely that this code-name pertains to the Pixel 4a. At the very least, it’s likely a real device, even if it ends up being a development board. Were it to only be a development board, though, we would expect to see another code-name for a device based on the sm7150 platform.
The next code-name on our list is “redfin.” This code-name could be a device (or development board) that’s being developed on the sm7250, or Qualcomm Snapdragon 765, mobile platform. The Snapdragon 765 is Qualcomm’s latest upper mid-range SoC, and it’s also Qualcomm’s first SoC with an integrated 5G modem. It seems that “redfin” is being made by an ODM, in this case, FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Foxconn. It’s being developed with Android 10 on board. Apart from AOSP, we haven’t spotted any references to “redfin” on any other source—both online or offline.
Bramble is the third code-name we spotted. It appeared in AOSP multiple times, though I initially believed it to be Google’s Snapdragon 865 development build since it’s running Linux kernel version 4.19. However, that was a faulty assumption since Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765 should also be based on Linux kernel version 4.19. Indeed, thanks to a new AOSP commit, we now know that bramble, like redfin, is based on the sm7250/Snapdragon 765 mobile platform. However, unlike redfin, we haven’t found evidence that bramble is an ODM device, and it seems to be in-development with Android 10 as well as Android 11.
While we can’t say for sure if redfin, bramble, and sunfish are indeed mid-range Pixel devices, we should be seeing more references to these code-names in AOSP and Google apps in the coming weeks and months. Our current belief is that sunfish could be a 4G-only Pixel 4a while either bramble or redfin could be a 5G-ready Pixel 4a XL. I don’t think there will be 3 mid-range 2020 Pixel phones this year, so one of redfin or bramble could be a commercial device while the other is a development board. Having a slightly higher-end 4a XL model with 5G connectivity would explain what 9to5Google heard about its pricing—supposedly, it’s going to be more expensive than the 3a XL.