To avoid ugly Pixel phones, Google has three design teams: rumor

The Google Pixel 3 XL

The Google Pixel 3 XL

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL certainly aren’t for everyone. The former sports large bezels above and below the display which make it look slightly dated, while the latter switches the upper bezel for a meme-worthy notch that has been criticized since before the phones were even announced. 

To make matters worse, Google recently admitted that the Pixel 3 series is considerably less popular than the Pixel 2 lineup it succeeds. At this point it’s unclear if design has directly impacted sales, but in the hope of avoiding any future design flops, Google is rumored to have taken some rather drastic action.

Google chooses the best design out of three


According to tipster Max J. – he’s the person responsible for the recent Pixel 3a spec sheet leak – Google has created three separate design teams which are all responsible for designing future Pixel smartphones. 

Each of these teams works independently and has no communication with the others. In fact, it’s suggested that they are competing with each other as, before gearing up for production, Google will choose only the design it deems best for its future devices. The objective of this strategy is, as mentioned above, to avoid ugly designs which are largely unpopular among consumers such as the Pixel 3 XL’s notch. 

Google doesn't want any ugly notches in its future

Google doesn't want any ugly notches in its future

There’s no concrete evidence to back this claim up – Max J. simply heard it from one of his (presumably reliable) sources – so it should be taken with a pinch of salt. It’s not, however, the first time multiple Google design teams have been mentioned. 

Multiple design teams have been mentioned before


Way back in August, over a month before the Pixel 3 series was even official, one Russian website got its hands on a pre-production Pixel 3 XL unit and reviewed it. The article described in great detail the smartphone's many features and, towards the end, included some pretty juicy information about the situation inside Google.

According to the website’s sources, at the time Google was preparing a total of seven devices. But rather than having just one team handling the development process, Google apparently had two separate teams at the time working on different products.

Google’s traditional design team, from the look of things, was handling the development of five devices at the time. These were the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, a further two models that are presumably the upcoming Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a, and a special prototype device that featured a flexible display and, at the time, wasn’t due for launch until late 2020.

To avoid ugly Pixel phones, Google has three design teams: rumor
Alongside these, the internet giant was apparently working on two next-generation models at the time that included a variety of upgrades. These two, however, weren’t being designed by Google’s usual design team. Instead, the Silicon Valley-based company chose to put its newly-acquired HTC design team in charge of design and development.

What does all of this mean for the Google Pixel 4?


As for how all of this affects this year’s Google Pixel 4, it seems unlikely that the three-team strategy Google is rumored to be using at the moment will make any difference. After all, the Pixel 4’s design has probably been finalized already and is unlikely to undergo any major changes now. Instead, these teams are probably starting to focus on what’s to come after the Pixel 4 this fall.

Regarding the flagships being developed by the HTC design team last summer, these may have since been scrapped entirely. Alternatively, they could form the basis of the Pixel 4 flagships that we will see later this year.

Google Pixel 4 concept based on leaked information

Google Pixel 4 concept based on leaked information

For those of you wondering what upgraded features these devices sported at the time, it was claimed that they utilized an upgraded Qualcomm CPU and GPU. In addition to this, a dual-camera setup for the rear was apparently on the cards alongside enhanced stereo speakers and new 3D facial recognition tech. Other details included support for a new generation of VR said to be launching later this year and no physical buttons, like the HTC U12+.

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19 Comments

1. burkett375

Posts: 48; Member since: Dec 19, 2017

If it means they stop stealing last years' designs from the other OEMs and start innovating, that works for me.

2. lyndon420

Posts: 6489; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Loose that god awful notch and make it like the Motorola Nexus 6 with stereo speakers and I'll hop on board....maybe. I don't have a problem with top and bottom bezels provided they aren't huge. I just wish they didn't discontinue the nexus branding.

13. Orion78

Posts: 166; Member since: Mar 27, 2014

Preach!! Nexus 6 was by far my favorite phone ever.

3. Zylam

Posts: 1807; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

Would be pretty ironic if the next Pixel is still ugly.

4. lyndon420

Posts: 6489; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

It will still have a gay sounding name so anything is possible.

7. kiko007

Posts: 7489; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

You look way too old to still be using the word gay as a slight. Besides who gives a s**t what your phone is called?

11. vincelongman

Posts: 5623; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Sadly the Pixel 4 was probably designed before the other 2 design teams were setup So we probably won't see this until the Pixel 5

5. User123456789

Posts: 550; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Just use the body of U12 with vertical dual cam and screen FP scanner.

8. kiko007

Posts: 7489; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Hell yes. The U12 has a really nice look to it even with the bezels. I'd much rather see that than a hole in the screen, but that's personal preference.

6. Tipus

Posts: 792; Member since: Sep 30, 2016

" it isn't a notch, it's screen extension" LMAO :)))))))

15. TBomb

Posts: 1180; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Leo??? That you???

9. CDexterWard

Posts: 47; Member since: Feb 05, 2018

Doesn’t matter if they have six design teams. Apparently none of them were at the top of their class at Design School.

10. redmd

Posts: 1910; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

3 teams. 1 ugly design. It's a Pixel.

12. nodes

Posts: 1152; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

Is it that hard to design a phone these days? Mostly already taken by the screen and glass, the rest is only placement of camera and FP scanner. It doesn't take a genius to realize how bad the Pixel 3 XL design is, Google isn't a startup company, really? How the design of Pixel 3 XL could be on the retail product blows my mind.

14. Orion78

Posts: 166; Member since: Mar 27, 2014

Google is just clueless on what today's phone should look like. While I love their software (even that needs some improvement)... their hardware side of things just completely suck.

16. TBomb

Posts: 1180; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

I'd like to hope the HTC team acquisition was not part of the PIxel 3 design, so maybe the 4 will have some HTC influence? I'd be okay with that.

17. JMartin22

Posts: 2327; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

The Apple-sized uniform bezels look bad with a hole punch in the display. It would honestly look better with a notch. The hole punch is only really passable in my view with razor thin side and top bezels

18. guest

Posts: 370; Member since: Jun 13, 2012

The only reason I didn't buy one was 4gb ram. Really google? Samsung is up to 6 or 8 and you are still at 4gb. I notice it when I am switching between apps. The new processor is faster but it can only do so much when you are stuck with 4 gb of ram. The pixel 3 looked fine, the XL was terrible looking with that copy cat + worse notch. The S9 style fascia with fingerprint on the back is the sweet spot. I don't like holes or notches in my display as I would rather have a chin and forehear with dual front firing speakers.

19. mcdonsco

Posts: 15; Member since: Feb 07, 2012

Well what the hell happened to them with the Pixel 3XL?

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