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The Pixel 3 Lite will be Google's most important phone in 2022

Google Pixel 3 XL
Google Pixel 3 XL (Image credit: Android Central)

For the past three years, Google's released a new Pixel phone in October. In 2016 we got the original Pixel, 2017 saw the release of the Pixel 2, and last year in 2018, we had the Pixel 3. The Pixel 3 is (unsurprisingly) the best of the bunch so far and remains as one of our absolute favorite Android phones you can buy.

Google's made considerable progress with its Pixel phones year after year, leaving us quite excited to see what we get with the Pixel 4 series in a few months. However, even with that being the case, it's not the Pixel phone that will matter the most to Google in 2019.

No, that title goes to the Pixel 3 Lite.

Rumors of a mid-range Pixel device first popped up all the way back in April 2018, and at the time, it was expected that the phone would be released in July or August of that year. That obviously never happened, but now according to the latest rumors and reports, Google's getting ready to finally launch its mid-range handset in the form of the Pixel 3 Lite this Spring.

As the name suggests, we're anticipating the Pixel 3 Lite to be a lower-spec'd and lower-priced version of the existing Pixel 3. That means a plastic design instead of a metal and glass one, less powerful Qualcomm processor, less storage, and a lower-quality display.

Those are all compromises we'd expect with a gadget of this caliber, but one spec that really has the Pixel 3 Lite on our radar is its camera package. If the rumor mill is true, the Pixel 3 Lite will have the exact same camera as the regular Pixel 3. That means jaw-dropping photos and videos on a phone that should cost hundreds of dollars less than its more expensive sibling.

Here's why this all matters.

For most consumers, they won't care about one Qualcomm processor being used over another. Plastic is more durable than glass, so that's a win right there for a lot of folks. Add that together with Google's name backing the phone and it shipping with the same phenomenal camera, and you have yourself a phone that we think a lot of potential buyers will readily choose in a heartbeat.

Oh, and did I mention that it has a 3.5mm headphone jack when the regular Pixel 3 doesn't?

When you start thinking about all of that, it doesn't take long to see how the Pixel 3 Lite could actually be a more enticing purchase over the fully-fledged Pixel 3. If it costs around $300 less and people can get the same camera experience — one of the biggest reasons to buy a Pixel in the first place — that's an easy decision right there.

At first, this didn't make a lot of sense to me. Why would Google risk cannibalizing sales of its own phone? However, after thinking about it a bit more and talking this over with AC's Daniel Bader, it started to come together.

Google will always have a dedicated fan base that buys its latest and greatest flagships. It may not be huge compared to fans of companies like Samsung and Apple, but it exists and isn't going anywhere. The Pixel 3 Lite is not for them. Those people will buy the Pixel 4 when it comes out without blinking an eye. The Pixel 3 Lite is for everyone else. For the people that may have considered Google's Pixel phones in the past, but passed on them for a more affordable Samsung or LG phone.

The Pixel 3 Lite will make Google's phones accessible to a whole new market of consumers.

With the Pixel 3 Lite, Google will soon have a device for those people to turn to. If they want a Pixel but can't justify the cost of Google's flagship offerings, they'll now have a lower-cost option to turn to. It may not be as flashy or powerful as the Pixel 3 or Pixel 4, but it's still a customer buying a Google phone. That rule also applies to people that may choose to buy the Pixel 3 Lite over more expensive Pixels even if they have the means to afford them.

No matter how you look at it, Google wins in both scenarios.

Some people have commented that the Pixel 3 Lite doesn't make sense for Google, but if you ask me, it has potential to be one of the smartest moves to come out of the company's hardware division. Sure, the Pixel line has typically be reserved for premium gadgets, but Google's hardware can't survive in the premium space alone.

Google needs a phone that can compete in the mid-range flagship market, and with the Pixel 3 Lite, that's exactly what it looks like it's aiming to do.

Google Pixel 3 Lite: News, Rumors, Release Date, Specs, and More!

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

58 Comments
  • Grammer police...
    Sure, the Pixel line has typically *be* reserved for premium gadgets
  • Actual English language police...
    Grammar is sentence structure, which in the article is perfectly fine. What you pointed out is called a typo; a spelling mistake.
  • I like how you misspelled grammar while pointing out a typo. That’s classic.
  • Lol "grammer"... oh Dear you've made a mess of yourself :)
  • Really! Would Mr. Spock use the example of an expression, "oh Dear."? I think not.
  • If it has the same camera and is priced in the three hundred range it has the potential of selling like hotcakes. Plus the return of the headphone jack. Consumers will love that! Plastic instead of glass, reminds of the Nexus 5X!
  • It'll also make the standard pixel 3 completely pointless.
  • It's advantages are: Snapdragon 845, dual stero speakers, OLED display, probably wireless charging (hopefully not), so the point still seems to be that it was a flagship and a mid-range phone.
  • Maybe for people on here, but I'm using about for normal folk. They don't know, let alone care, what SoC is in their phone, wireless charging sucks and if stereo speakers were something people actually cared about HTC would still sell phones.
  • The vast majority of people won't ever buy a pixel. They will by an iPhone or a Samsung device. The only people who really care about Pixels are people who monitor forums/websites like this one. So the vast majority of those people (a.k.a - all of us) do care about having a snapdragon 845, dual stereo speakers (I can't stand just one speaker myself), OLED display, wireless charging, IP water resistance, etc. I agree that people like my parents won't give one thought to any of those features; but they also won't even look at a pixel. They will go straight to the iPhones or Samsungs. My wife's entire family is iPhone centric so they won't care less. Pixel phones are nice but highly overrated (this is coming from someone with a Pixel 2XL).
  • Interestingly, the people that I've known over the years that have bought Pixels have been the exact opposite to the people that you describe. They just wanted a good phone and liked Google.
  • It was a bit unclear in the article but I think talk has always been about a phone that is about $300 *less* than the regular Pixel. Yep, I think that it is probably still way too much still for most average people but I guess we shall see what they think when the phone is announced.
  • What I'm concerned about is the 32GB of storage that I heard it's coming with. That's a little on the skimpy side for me.
  • I don't use a lot of storage myself, but if 32GB is the only option I'll pass on it. Hopefully there's a 64GB version
  • Agreed. 64 is the minimum for me.
  • 32 GB is a perfectly reasonable amount of storage. In 2014.
  • I think it's more reasonable now in 2019 than back then because of the decrease in app sizes and increase in availability of cloud storage over the years. The Pixels come with unlimited photo and video storage, and the OS takes up less than 8gb. Still, it would never hurt to also have a 64gb model.
  • "Add that together with Google's name backing the phone and it shipping with the same phenomenal camera, and you have yourself a phone that we think a lot of potential buyers will readily choose in a heartbeat." LOL
    Consumers already said loud and clear that they are NOT interested in Google's iPixels. Which is why all the phones were sale flops and even Google doesn't talk about their sales anymore. But sure, do continue to desperately try to make these flops happen. Just a piece of advice: the American IRS has made it clear tech blogs should clearly display sponsorships. And given the amount of desperate ad-rticles AC does for the iPixels, you're either failing to disclose that or just went completely off the rails.
  • I'm not a yank myself, so I could be wrong. But i don't think that's part of the IRSs remit... Pretty sure it's the territory of the FTC. Also, have you considered purchasing an Instant Pot?
  • I don't know if you realize this, but your tastes are not everyone's. Just a price of advice: your slanderous unwarranted claim about Android Central being paid by Google to say good things is about as likely as you being paid by a rival company to say bad things.
  • I understand this will be a budget mid-ranger. But if it only comes as a 32gb model in 2019 why? Without a micro s/d card will it hurt sales? I definitely don't think this is a good decision. Bare bones it should have at least 64gb's!
  • The microSD slot is used for photos and videos, the Pixels come with unlimited photo and video storage, so that problem is solved. But they should still definitely have a 64gb option.
  • If Pixel 3 Lite was offered in 64 GB, it would cannibalize too many sales of the regular P3/XL.
  • My original Pixel only came with 32GB of storage and I've used it as my daily driver until October, when I purchased my Pixel 3 XL (with 64GBs storage). I had a considerable number of apps installed and an extensive number of songs on the phone and I still had over 18GBs storage remaining. All my photos and videos are stored on Google Photos in the cloud and I regularly delete the device copies after they are backed up to the cloud to keep my phone storage free. All my photos and videos are accessible from the cloud via WiFi or Cellular and I have never had an incident where I could not access them. So, in what way would 32GBs NOT be sufficient in 2019? Granted, 64GBs would be nicer to have if you want to store more photos and videos on your device, but it's definitely not a "necessity" with Google giving you free cloud storage. It seems people keep forgetting these are Google Pixel devices that come with free cloud storage, not Apple iPhones that charge for that service.
  • Not everyone wants to use the cloud. Some people may want to save files locally for offline access or to limit mobile data usage. Also games and some apps (like offline maps) can take up lots of storage. 32GB is pitifully sad when you consider you cannot expand the storage with a MicroSD card.
  • As long as there is a 64gb option and it's below $400, it should be a very reasonable device. The Pixel's main selling point is the camera, and it's main drawback is the price; the Pixel 3 lite seems to have solved the problem.
  • Pixel 3 Lite will definitely be the cheapest model, but $300 is nonsense.
    Don't be surprised if it launches for $499.