The launch of the HTC U11+ last night drew many admirers to the design, and it appears that there’s at least more than a passing similarity to the now-dead Google handset, code-named ‘Muskie’, that was killed off in favour of an LG built Pixel 2 XL. The Verge is reporting that the basics of that phone went on to become the U11+.
A source at HTC who is apparently familiar with HTC and Google’s plans for the Pixel phones confirmed the U11+ was born from the ashes of the defunct Muskie handset, though that should always be tempered with a large grain of salt.
As we know, the ‘Muskie’ Pixel handset that could have been, was killed off in favour of the LG built ‘Taimen’. Details on the device that HTC was building surfaced last week with the code dump to the Android Open Source Project found by the team at XDA-Developers. The code showed that Muskie had the same 6″ Display size as the U11+, as well as the same aspect ratio (18:9) and resolution (2880×1440).
Those specs aren’t really a smoking gun, that’s pretty co-incidental, but the confirmation of a source should at least make you go hmmm. There’s also other similarities between the U11+ and the Pixel 2 design, including the very Pixel-like ‘Nexus Imprint’ fingerprint scanner on the rear.
The U11+ however has quite a few differences as well, which makes us think this is possibly only vaguely related. The U11+ uses an SLCD3 display, which Google would have eschewed in favour of a Daydream View friendly AMOLED panel. The battery sizes between the shelved Muskie and the U11+ are different, with the Muskie apparently set to include a 3,830 mAh battery while the U11+ houses a 3,930mAh battery.
Noted Android developer and somewhat industry insider Paul O’brien also agrees that this is not the Muskie by another name, tweeting
HTC U11+ isn't a cancelled Pixel 2 by another name…!
— Paul O'Brien (@PaulOBrien) November 2, 2017
It’s interesting to make the comparison given the issues occurring with the Pixel 2 XL display, but we can also focus on the fact that the U11+ is a darn lovely looking phone that’s got some great specs. We’re still waiting to hear from HTC Australia on whether the U11+ will make it to Australia, and if it does we’ll be able to put it side-by-side with the Pixel 2 XL and think about what could have been.