In the case of the Pixel 4, Google unconcerned about avoiding the flurry of leaks that exposed the Pixel 3 and 3 XL well before their formal launch. While the company has repeatedly confirmed the existence of its next-generation flagship phone, some more recent leaks also included some of the key remaining details like the new flagship’s name.
Chatter that the “Pixel 4” and “Pixel 4 XL” would succeed the currently available lineup has floated around online for months now. But on Monday, Google software engineers accidentally mentioned both the Pixel 4 and the expected Pixel 3a budget model by name on the Android Gerrit source code management website.
The employees referred to the two unreleased phones by name alongside code related to the Pixel 2 and 3, confirming that the tech company is developing both models. They also described some of the needed changes: Updates to the “Almost Native Graphics Layer Engine,” or ANGLE, which allows graphical code to work across multiple Google devices seamlessly. Here’s the comment:
“ANGLE requires that driver preloading is disabled. This has been done for Pixel 2 and 3 and needs to be done for 3a and 4 also.”
The inadvertent mention of the unannounced devices came days after Andrey Konovalov, another Google software engineer, referenced the Pixel 4 by name in an Android Open Source Project. The comment, first spotted by 9to5Google, suggested that the phone has passed the development phase and is currently being prototype tested.
“The plan was to first deploy this on Pixel 3 and make sure that everything actually works. Then move on to Pixel 4 and so on,” wrote Konovalov.
Neither of these comments offer insight into the exact features and specs users should expect to see on the Pixel 4, but it confirmed some fan rumors that the Pixel 4 will be drastically different than its predecessors.
Just like previous Pixel releases, Google is expected to drop a Pixel 4 and a 4 XL sometime in October. Leak aggregation site, SlashLeaks posted what it alleges is a blueprint for the 4 XL’s redesign. This blueprint included two rear cameras and a Samsung-inspired punch-hole display to house the two front-facing cameras.
A single rear camera has been a Google Pixel staple over its past releases. Instead of relying on multiple lenses to give users stunning images, the phones leveraged Google’s industry-leading artificial intelligence software to touch up photos after they had been shot. This tech is ultimately what enabled the particularly striking “Night Sight” feature that lets Pixel owners take photos with high picture quality in the dark. Adding an additional secondary camera could take an already top-tier array to new heights.
The punch-hole notch is also a notable phase shift after Google opted to roll with an iPhone-like topnotch on the 3 XL. Renders based on the SlashLeaks blueprints make this new phone out to be incredibly sleek, the closest that Google has ever gotten to a bezel-less handset. Samsung was the first to adopt this approach to screen design with its Galaxy S10 devices, and it has been received as a successful departure from the standards established by Apple’s notch, long a sticking point for smartphone aesthetes.
There’s still a lot left to discover about the Pixel 4 and the 4 XL. Exactly how large will their displays be? What features will Android Q bring with them? And how much will they cost? You can check out some of our theories about what could be Google’s most audacious smartphone play yet here.