The HTC U11 Plus was originally intended to be the Google Pixel 2 XL

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Close observers of the Android rumor mill will know that Google made an abrupt change to its Pixel telephone plans this summer time, shelving its authentic successor to the Pixel XL, which was codenamed “muskie,” in favor of one other machine bearing the code title of “taimen.” Taimen went on to develop into the LG-manufactured Google Pixel 2 XL, whereas muskie appeared to fade into oblivion — nevertheless this week the latter identify has resurfaced within the newest Android supply code drop. More than that, the code badociates the machine with HTC because the producer, factors to it having the identical pixel density because the eventual Pixel 2 XL, and signifies that muskie had a fairly big battery.

Here’s the cool half: muskie didn’t die, it simply grew to become the HTC U11 Plus.

The Verge has confirmed with a supply conversant in HTC and Google’s tumultuous current historical past that the U11 Plus, the machine freshly introduced this morning, is certainly the muskie handset that Google rejected in favor of the LG different. Not in its authentic Google-approved kind, in fact, however the core design and engineering that we see introduced below the HTC model in the present day was basically finished to construct the following Google Pixel XL.


Photo by Vlad Savov / The Verge

It’s not exhausting to identify the similarities. The U11 Plus is the primary HTC telephone to function a fingerprint sensor on the again for a very long time, perhaps way back to the HTC One Max in 2013. When I spent some hands-on time with the U11 Plus, that fingerprint reader struck me as being basically the identical as that on Google’s Pixel telephones. Now we all know why: that’s what it was initially meant and designed to be.

The show dimension and proportions of HTC’s U11 Plus are a direct match for the LG-made Pixel 2 XL: each have 6-inch screens with 18:9 facet ratio and a 2880 x 1440 decision. The main distinction, nevertheless, is that LG’s show is an OLED panel with a laundry checklist of issues, whereas HTC’s is a extra typical LCD that simply seems very good. In hindsight, it seems apparent that Google ought to have caught with its muskie plans as an alternative of creating a last-minute change to LG; that might have saved the corporate a ton of complications and dangerous press, and doubtless would have made the Pixel 2 XL the kind of potent iPhone rival we’ve lengthy been ready for.


Google Pixel 2 subsequent to HTC U11 Plus and U11
Photo by Vlad Savov / The Verge

The U11 Plus that’s popping out now does have just a few HTC hallmarks, akin to its fancy all-glbad rear shell and the identical glorious digital camera system of the U11. It additionally has a large three,930mAh battery, which is greater than the Pixel 2 XL has and even larger than the supply code suggests muskie would have had. My first time with this HTC machine was encouraging, and I already think about it probably the most full and compelling Android telephones coming to the market this vacation season. But what may a U11 Plus with Google’s unparalleled Pixel digital camera have appeared like? What may the world have been like if the Pixel 2 XL had a display screen worthy of its premium value and positioning?

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