The mid-range Google Pixels may launch as the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL

The mid-range Google Pixels may launch as the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL

This year, Google is rumored to add two mid-range smartphones to their Pixel lineup. News of the existence of mid-range Pixels have circulated the Internet for nearly a year now, and the smaller of the two devices made its first appearance a month after the launch of the new Pixel 3 series. The two mid-range Pixel devices, code-named “sargo” and “bonito,” have been called the Google Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 XL Lite for some time. Now, we have found evidence that the mid-range Pixel devices will be marketed as the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.

First, let’s talk about those code-names. The code-names “sargo” and “bonito” have appeared many times online. For example, both code-names once appeared in Google ARCore’s device profile database. We’ve seen “sargo” and “bonito” show up in benchmark results from Geekbench and other services, but it’s hard to tell if a benchmark result is authentic so we’ve generally ignored those references. The first Android Q beta release provides further evidence that “sargo” and “bonito” are fourth-generation Pixel devices. The code snippet shown below is from a class in the ConnectivityMonitor app which starts out by listing the Pixel devices and their code-names. The Pixel and Pixel XL (“sailfish” and “marlin”), Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL (“walleye” and “taimen”), and Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL (“blueline” and “crosshatch”) all make an appearance here. Then there are the two “B4S4” devices which are “bonito” and “sargo.” B4S4 likely refers to “bonito” and “sargo” being fourth-generation Pixel phones.

Another reference to “sargo” exists in the library for Google Camera in the vendor partition. I did a strings dump to see the context of the “sargo” reference. It’s a bit of a mess to read, but there are marketing names and code-names of various Pixel phones listed somewhere in the file. The Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3 XL, and crosshatch (the code-name for the Pixel 3 XL) show up, but so do the “Pixel 3a XL” and the “sargo” code-name. I asked XDA Recognized Developer luca020400 for some help opening it with IDA, but even so I can’t clearly decipher the code in its current state since it’s not disassembled. Thus, I can’t say for sure if the Google Pixel 3a XL is “sargo.”

Strings dump of /vendor/lib64/libgcam.so

/vendor/lib64/libgcam.so opened with IDA. Credits: luca020400.

This is the first reference to the new mid-range Pixels’ marketing names that doesn’t come from a sketchy benchmark leak. “Pixel 3 Lite” and “Pixel 3 XL Lite” are awkward-sounding marketing names, so it would make sense for Google to pick something different.

Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL – What we know so far

The rumored 2019 mid-range Pixel 3 variants look a lot like their 2018 counterparts except for a few big differences. First, the live images of the mid-range Pixel 3a and CAD renders of the Pixel 3a XL show that both models have 3.5mm headphone jacks, a component that the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 both lack. Second, the 2019 mid-range Pixels seem to have a polycarbonate body and not soft touch glass. Third, the new Pixels seem to have stereo speakers, but not in the same position as the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL. Rather than having a speaker in the bottom bezel, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL’s second speaker is in the bottom edge of the device. Lastly, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL don’t have display notches like the Pixel 3 XL.

The alleged Google Pixel 3 Lite, or Google Pixel 3a. Source: Rozetked.

The alleged Google Pixel 3 XL Lite, or Google Pixel 3a XL. Source: @OnLeaks/91Mobiles.

Since these two devices are intended to be sold in markets like India, we expect their prices to be considerably lower than the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL flagships. Thus, their specifications will be lower-end than the 2018 Pixels. The mid-range Pixels will hopefully still provide a decent picture-taking experience with the Google Camera app. The camera quality of mid-range devices is usually nowhere near that of flagship phones, but the mid-range Pixels may bridge that gap.

Here’s a summary of what we know so far about both devices:

Rumored Google Pixel 3a Specifications

  • 5.56-inch IPS display, 2220×1080
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 670
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32GB of storage (no microSD card slot)
  • 2,915 mAh battery
  • 12MP rear camera, dual LED flash
  • 8MP front camera
  • Android 9 Pie
  • USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack

Rumored Google Pixel 3a XL Specifications

As you can see, we barely know anything about the larger Pixel 3a XL. AndroidPolice claims both devices will launch on Verizon in the U.S. in early 2019, so we’ll probably learn more information about these devices soon. If AndroidPolice is correct, then it’s unlikely these devices will launch with Android Q out of the box given that the final Android Q release will happen in Q3. If we learn more information about “sargo” and “bonito,” their marketing names, or the Google Pixel 4 flagship, we’ll let you all know.


Special thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler. JEB Decompiler is a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.

Update 1: This article was updated shortly after publication to clarify that we didn’t actually disassemble the library.

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