Not HTC but Google itself designed this year’s Pixel phones.
Google formally owns a chunk of HTC’s smartphone division — 2,000 engineers and non-exclusive license for intellectual property — now but looks like it did not play any significant role in designing and building the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones. That is probably because by the time Google was done acquiring a part of HTC, it had already designed the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones. In simple terms, not HTC but Google itself, designed this year’s Pixel phones. They were then built by Foxconn.
Until last year, Google made its Pixel (or Nexus) phones in collaboration with third-party OEMs like HTC or LG. Last year’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL phones, for instance, were designed and built by HTC and LG respectively. The original Pixel and Pixel XL were designed and built by HTC. This year, however, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have been actually designed by Google and built by Foxconn.
Google completed its $1.1 billion deal to acquire a large slice of HTC’s hardware business earlier in January this year. « As our hardware business enters its third year, we remain committed to building and investing for the long run. Today, we start digging in with our new teammates, guided by the mission to create radically helpful experiences for people around the world, by combining the best of Google’s AI, software and hardware, » Rick Osterloh had said while confirming the acquisition.
The deal essentially handed over a portion of HTC’s smartphone development team that worked on Google’s Pixel hardware. It was supposed to help Google streamline the process of making its Pixel phones in the future since it would have to rely on just company – and its engineering staff – to make its Pixel phones. But as things stand, we will have to wait at least one more year to see the results of the HTC acquisition as far as Google hardware is concerned. The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL would probably be the first Pixel phones to be completely built under the new setup.

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