Google’s next big-screen smartphone is reportedly codenamed “taimen,” and now it’s starting to look like it’s being built by LG.
What’s not yet clear is how much that actually matters.
Google has been working with phone makers to release Nexus phones for years. Typically that meant that both Google and the phone maker brought something to the table when it came to design.
That was supposed to change with the launch of the Pixel line of phones. Nexus devices have always been built in partnership with another company. Google Pixel devices like the Chromebook Pixel and Pixel C tablet were designed in-house by Google.
But the first-gen Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones were built by HTC, feature HTC-like physical design elements, and code that was clearly contributed by HTC.
Some observers have noted that those phones went from concept to shipping product in a pretty short period of time, so it’s possible that Google took some shortcuts. If that’s the case, then it’s possible that the upcoming LG-built Pixel XL 2 “Taimen” could basically be an all-Google device that just happens to have been manufactured by LG. But if that was Google’s plan, you’d think the company would have just contracted a white box manufacturer like Foxconn or Quanta.
So maybe there will be some LG-inspired ideas in the new phone after all… in which case, I’m not really sure how much difference there is between a Nexus and a Pixel, aside from the fact that Pixel devices are almost always premium hardware with premium price tags, while some Nexus phones have been priced at $600 or higher at launch, while others have sold for as little as $349.
Personally, I’d really like a budget Pixel phone that I could purchase to replace my Nexus 5X in a year or two. But I suppose first-gen Pixel prices will probably drop after the Pixel 2 has been on the market for a while.
By the way, it’s unclear at this point if LG is building both the Pixel XL 2 and the Pixel 2, or if the company is only responsible for the larger of the two phone Google is expected to launch later this year.