The rumor comes from a post by Digital Chat Station on Weibo, which claims that Google is working on a “small-screen flagship machine” that is code-named “Neila.” It's unclear when such a phone would be ready — it's extremely unlikely to happen during the October 6 product event Google has scheduled — or how reliable such a claim is in the first place.
Small-screen phones have faded in popularity in recent years, with most models featuring panels that are at least 6 inches — and even larger in many cases. Take the iPhone 14 lineup announced by Apple last week. Apple's latest phones did away with the iPhone mini model, replacing it with the super-sized iPhone 14 Plus.
Google has been just as reluctant to produce small phones in recent years, though that wasn't always the case. The Pixel 4a featured a 5.8-inch screen, and the Pixel 4 display was even smaller at 5.7 inches.
Starting with the Pixel 5, though, Google started making phones with 6-inch displays, and it hasn't turned back. The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro — which are slated to appear at that October 6 event — should approach the 6.4- and 6.7-inch screen sizes found in the Pixel 6 lineup.
So why go back to a small phone design? According to the rumor posted on Weibo, it would be to appeal to international markets, where smaller phones are apparently more popular. A translated version of the Weibo post also claims this smaller Pixel would feature a punch-hole design on the front with a "family-style rear design," which we take to mean that it would include the horizontal camera bar Google introduced with the Pixel 6.
The actual rumor is too vague at this point to give much credence to, and it's the first we've heard of any leaks involving a product code-named "Neila." As 9to5Google points out, that codename “Neila” isn't really consistent with the naming conventions Google normally uses for its phones.
Whether there's a smaller Pixel in the works or not, Google already has its hands full with the upcoming Pixel 7 launch in October. Those phones are known to feature a new Tensor chipset, and they'll likely include camera improvements as well.
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Sanjana loves all things tech. From the latest phones, to quirky gadgets and the best deals, she's in sync with it all. Based in Atlanta, she is the news editor at Tom's Guide. Previously, she produced India's top technology show for NDTV and has been a tech news reporter on TV. Outside work, you can find her on a tennis court or sipping her favorite latte in instagrammable coffee shops in the city. Her work has appeared on NDTV Gadgets 360 and CNBC.