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Here's the HTC-made Pixel 2 XL that never was

The dated design might have explained why Google shelved the design.

Published onFebruary 2, 2021

  • A prototype of an HTC-made Google Pixel 2 XL has surfaced on YouTube.
  • Unlike the eventual LG model, this “Muskie” phone had huge bezels.

It’s well-known by now that Google originally tapped HTCto make both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL only for LG to eventually make the larger phone, but what was that first XL like? You no longer have to wonder. As XDA notes, YouTuber Calyx Hikari has posted video of a hands-on with the prototype Pixel 2 XL from HTC, codenamed “Muskie.”

While the back shares the two-tone metal-and-glass design that eventually reached the production Pixel 2 XL, the front of the HTCmodel is decidedly different. It has the same large bezels you saw on the regular Pixel 2, just scaled up for the screen size — not a great look when thin-bezel devices like the iPhone X and Essential Phone were either reaching the market or coming soon. It’s not certain if Google axed this design due to the bezels, but we certainly wouldn’t rule it out.

The leak doesn’t indicate when HTCmade this early Pixel 2 XL. The hardware was using a pre-release version of Android 8.0 Oreo with security updates from May 2017, so it may have been in active consideration until relatively late in the development process.

Related: HTC shouldn’t go all-in on nostalgia

You know what happened next. Google picked LG to make the Pixel 2 XL that reached customers’ hands, and eventually acquired a large chunk of HTC’s research and development team. HTCcontinued on its steady decline as Google took more control of the Pixel design process. Still, this shows what might have been if Google had pushed forward with an all-HTC lineup — it’s hard not to wonder what would have happened to both companies in that situation.

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