+ Thursday August 22nd, 2019

The lead up to the launch of the 2017 Pixel handsets showed there was initially three handsets in development. One of those handsets, a HTC built larger device codenamed Muskie was dropped before coming to fruition but now details of what could have been have been found in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).

The references to ‘Muskie’ first surfaced in March, with details at the time limited to mentions in AOSP. The team at XDA-Developers has looked through AOSP for more mentions of Muskie in a bid to find out just what could have been, and the tidbits are interesting.

The mentions include a device branch called ‘muskie‘ which can be found in the branch ‘Android-8.0.0_r24’ alongside the Pixel 2/Pixel 2 XL. The device is listed in AOSP with a AOSP Make file that includes the line ‘PRODUCT_MANUFACTURER := Google’ which is also included for other Google devices such as the Pixel 2/Pixel 2 XL. Another file (init.common.usb.rc) lists HTC as the manufacturer of this device in line with rumours.

The HTC made ‘Muskie’ was, like the Pixel 2 XL (Taimen) a larger screened device, and it would also have come with the same 560ppi pixel density. According to the power_profile.xml it had a HTC made battery 3,830 mAh in size, a big jump from the 3,520 mAh battery in the Pixel 2 XL.

Lastly, like its actual released siblings, the HTC built muskie would also have included the Pixel Visual Core which Google unveiled the other day, which is known as ‘easel’ in the Make file.

It’s an interesting look at what could have been, and given the issues being experienced by the Pixel 2 XL screen, Google may have been better off sticking with an all HTC-built lineup for the 2017 Pixel phones.

Daniel Tyson  


Dan is a die-hard Android fan. Some might even call him a lunatic. He's been an Android user since Android was a thing, and if there's a phone that's run Android, chances are he owns it (his Nexus collection is second-to-none) or has used it.

Dan's dedication to Ausdroid is without question, and he has represented us at some of the biggest international events in our industry including Google I/O, Mobile World Congress, CES and IFA.

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Hoping that the next Pixel lineup next year will be like the first one – more consistent design language and equal qualities across both sizes.

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