Pixel 4? Google's 2019 Hardware Releases Have Already Begun to Surface

A cheap phone and a smartwatch, too?

2018 was kind to Pixel soothsayers, who were treated to a torrent of leaks and unboxing videos that gave away most of the phone launch’s big surprises. 2019 is already shaping up to be similar, with plans for a smartwatch, and even a possible Pixel successor already surfacing online.

Google’s last hardware release was leakier than your first apartment, and if the video, blueprints, and speculations that have emerged early in 2019 prove to be legit, the company’s launch of the Pixel 4, an iPhone XR-like launch dubbed the Pixel 3 Lite, and the rumored Pixel Watch could suffer the same fate. But there’s still a lot left unanswered.

The tech giant is a monolith in the software game, dominating the search engine market and powering billions of smartphones with its Android operating system. But cracking the hardware game is a challenge that’s proved more elusive.

Last year, the company dropped a number of smart home devices, a laptop-tablet hybrid, and its Pixel 3 duo. Here’s what the company has planned for 2019, at least so far.

Potential Notch-less Google Pixel 4

The most exciting thing we know so far about the new Google flagship? The Pixel 4 might be totally bezel-less. Alleged blueprints of the device were leaked by 91Mobiles last week depicting what is clearly a Pixel with borders around its display. The publication stated that the diagrams were published on the World Intellectual Property Organization’s database on an unspecified day date January 16.

pixel 4 alleged patent blueprints

The images include one camera lens, just like the Pixel 3, and no headphone jack as has been case since the Pixel 2. On the other hand, there were rumors that the Pixel 3 would be near bezel-less, rumors which also surfaced around this time of year, early in 2018. Those rumors didn’t play out, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t high on a lot of people’s wishlists.

Google Pixel 3 Lite

Google might also release a budget-friendly version of the Pixel 3, tentatively dubbed the Pixel 3 Lite. This is mostly according to the tech YouTube channel Andro News, which published a convincing hands-on video with a leaked model of the alleged device last week. The video has since been taken down but it was re-uploaded on separate channels.

pixel 3 lite specs leak

The price of the potential smartphone wasn’t included in the video, but its specs show that it’ll have notably lesser hardware that the other Pixel 3 models, which start at $799. The Pixel 3’s Snapdragon 845 is replaced with Snapdragon 670 and its back panel is said to be made of plastic instead of glass.

Could a Pixel Watch Be in the Works?

Finally, Google plans to spend $40 million to acquire some mysterious smartwatch technology from the company Fossil Group. The details on the acquisition were a little hazy: A fossil executive described the hardware tech as a, “new product innovation that’s not yet hit the market.” Given the fact that Google’s wearable OS doesn’t yet have its own piece of in-house hardware, many took the sale as sign that a Google or Android Watch is in the works.

Google's radar venture might kill the touchscreen.

All of this is still speculative, but the news of the acquisition came weeks after a separate Google venture, Project Soli was granted U.S. Federal Communications Commission permission to test its motion-sensing technology. The tech uses a tiny radar array inside of a quarter-sized chip to precisely detect hand gestures so users could, say, control the brightness of their smartwatch by rubbing their fingers together.

Fossil-style smartwatches and Project Soli could be a match made in heaven as the radar tech is specifically meant to replace touchscreen interactions. A Pixel Watch could in theory match a minimalist display with tons of gesture controls.

It could be a game-changing year for Google hardware.