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Codenames surface for Google ‘Pixel 4’ and ‘Pixel 4 XL’

In the last few weeks, Google developers have become less tight-lipped about the upcoming Pixel 4 phone, mentioning it twice in the Android Open Source Project. Today, another layer of the mystery has been unraveled to reveal the codenames of the Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, and a third, unknown Google device.

This afternoon, a commit was posted to the Android Open Source Project, attempting to fix a labeling issue with Android’s SELinux policy. For our purposes, we just need to know that SELinux is a security module for the Linux kernel, which is often fine-tuned on a per-device basis.

In the comments, the developer tries to explain the issue they’re attempting to fix by giving a list of internal files that are showing an error, which includes codenames for two Panasonic devices, and six Google devices. Four of these we already know—Marlin (Pixel XL), Wahoo (a combined codename for Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL), Crosshatch (Pixel 3 XL), and Bonito (Pixel 3a XL)—leaving two unknown.









Armed with the knowledge of the mystery codenames “Coral” and “Needlefish,” our Dylan dug into the latest beta version of the Google app to find if either of these codenames were waiting to be found.

In a turn that none of us expected, the Google app code plainly tells us that the codename “Coral” is used for the “Pixel 4.” It also reveals that an unusual third codename, “Flame,” is used for the “Pixel 4 XL.”

Google Pixel 4, coral, Pixel 4 XL, flame

Now that we know with greater certainty that “Coral” is indeed the codename for the Pixel 4, this makes the previously leaked “Google Coral” benchmark far more plausible. The device in that benchmark was reported to have a Snapdragon 855 SoC and 6GB of RAM, which would resolve one of the primary complaints people had about the Pixel 3’s specs.

As for the Pixel 4 XL, using the codename “Flame” would be a significant change for Google because up to this point the Nexus and Pixel devices have been using sea-life-related names. Obviously, “Flame” would be almost the exact opposite of that. Whether Google is simply branching out more in their codenames, or if there is some significance to this change is something we can only guess about at this point.

Update: We have been informed by many of our forgetfulness of the flame angelfish, which seems to be the proper namesake for the Pixel 4 XL’s codename.

This of course, still leaves the question of what “Needlefish” could be. In years past, we’ve had extra codenames related to devices, like “Albacore” and “Wahoo.” Unlike “Albacore,” which we now assume to be the Pixel Visual Core, “Needlefish” is most likely a standalone device, as it has its own SELinux policy, and therefore must be running Linux and most likely Android.

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, which this article and some APK Insight teardowns benefit from.

Dylan contributed to this article

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Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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