The HTC Pixel 2 XL at auction, codenamed “Muskie,” is an EVT (Engineering Validation Test) example. True to earlier leaks, it really is the standard Pixel 2 writ large. It still has giant bezels and conspicuous front speakers, just with an ornate pattern on the back and a modified “G” logo to disguise the Google brand.
There are further references to the HTC Pixel 2 XL’s prototype status. This model is running a debug version of Android 8 Oreo that makes multiple references to the “Muskie” codename — the software was clearly specific to this phone. It’s using an Android security patch from August 2017, suggesting Google and HTC were maintaining code until just a couple of months before the official October 2017 debut.
There’s no hint of who bought the phone, and the recipient might not be thrilled once the novelty wears off. The seller warned that the HTC system might be “unstable or not working,” and that there were no guarantees networking would work properly. Even if you came across it yourself, you might end up with little more than a paperweight.
Still, the auction is useful as an illustration of what might have been. Google had invested a lot in the HTC Pixel 2 XL before switching to the LG design that eventually reached the public — this wasn’t a throwaway. While you’re unlikely to see that kind switch-up again given Google’s increasingly hands-on approach to design, it’s fun to imagine what would have happened if Google had moved forward with an all-HTC Pixel lineup.