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Google’s Pixel Phone Line May Soon Include a Budget-Friendly ‘Lite’ Duo

Smartphone upgrades have become more expensive as companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung pack the latest technology into phones that boast bigger screens, or in the case of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, flip open and shut. But Google might be getting ready to offer another option, according to a filing with the Federal Communications Commission.

There have long been leaks and speculation that Google is working on a budget-friendly version of its flagship Pixel phones, unofficially dubbed the Pixel 3 Lite and the Pixel 3 XL Lite. The document filed on Monday does not get into specifics, but it includes the model numbers that have been associated with previous leaks around the possible new releases, according to 9to5Google.

A Google representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment, however the company typically declines to discuss unreleased products.

For the past three years, the company has kept an October release schedule for its latest and greatest flagship Pixel smartphones.

The most recent version, the Pixel 3, earned rave reviews for its camera, and an improved waterproof rating that allowed it to survive dunk tests. The Pixel 3 and the larger Pixel 3 XL are also currently available for $200 off in Google’s store, perhaps hinting that something new could be on its way well before the expected annual “Made By Google” event.

If Google was to release a budget smartphone, it would come at a time when the cost of flagship phones have surpassed a $1,000 price point, causing many people to forego upgrades and hold onto their phones for longer than usual. The average upgrade cycle in the United States is 32 months, up from 25 months the previous year, according to a 2018 report from NPD Connected Intelligence.

The FCC filing also comes on the same week as the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Apple skips the show every year, however Android smartphone makers have used it as a launching pad for their latest devices. Days after Samsung showed off its Galaxy Fold smartphone, Huawei unveiled the Mate X, a bendy phone with a $2,600 price tag.