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Google will make the Pixel 6 in China to prevent launch delays

Published Aug 19th, 2021 11:38PM EDT
Pixel 6 Launch
Image: Google

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The Pixel 6 series reveal a few weeks ago indicates that Google’s smartphone’s ambitions have been rejuvenated. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro promise to be better than their predecessors in virtually every way. They’re going to be flagship phones sporting Google’s first custom chip for mobile devices. And buyers will have to shell out more cash than last year for a brand new Pixel 6. Google will put a more significant marketing effort into selling the Pixel 6 than ever, and its retail store ambitions prove that. But will Google have enough Pixel 6 stock on launch day? Will there be any delays? A new report sheds some light on Google’s efforts to manufacture the Pixel 6 series as the coronavirus delta variant fuels another massive wave of infections.

Google has notoriously failed to come up with a successful iPhone equivalent despite selling its own phones for more than a decade. But the Nexus and Pixel phones never managed to capture a significant share of the market. Even when there was demand for a particular Pixel version, Google wouldn’t have enough stock to go around.

Now that Google seems determined to deliver a better iPhone rival than before, it faces a massive roadblock. The health crisis might impact Pixel 6 production.

Pixel 6 launch date

Google surprised Pixel fans with an unexpected Pixel 6 launch a few weeks ago. It wasn’t a full Pixel 6 press conference. That’s probably coming in early October. Google revealed the design, announced the new Tensor chip, and listed the main Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro specs. But Google never gave us a price or release date for the phones.

A report from Nikkei says that US companies, including Amazon, Apple, and Google, are struggling to move the production of new devices from China to Vietnam. These companies have started looking for alternate supply routes as the US-China relationship continued deteriorating in the past few years. But the pandemic is changing all that, forcing some of them to return to China.

The Pixel 6 series is directly impacted. Google planned to manufacture the handset in Vietnam, but that’s no longer the case. People familiar with the matter told the site that Google wanted to move the production of Pixel phones to northern Vietnam last year. But the pandemic paused everything. The Pixel 6 will be manufactured in China, just like the Pixel 5 last year.

This suggests that Pixel 6 release delays shouldn’t be a worry. Google stayed in China to avoid manufacturing issues. The report explains that relocating production to Vietnam is complicated. COVID-19 continues to impact travel in the region, and restrictions could lead to delays. That’s because Vietnam’s engineer force isn’t large enough to handle new device production with ease.

AirPods 3 will have the same fate

A supply chain executive told Nikkei that it’s easier to make products in Vietnam that are already in mass production than to start producing brand new devices. That’s because of current travel restrictions that would make it harder for engineers to move freely between Vietnam and China for training purposes.

The Pixel 6 isn’t the only new device that suppliers will assemble in China. Apple is making the new AirPods 3 in China, despite moving previous-gen AirPods production to Vietnam two years ago. The iPhone maker also delayed its plans to move some MacBook and iPad production to Vietnam.

Amazon’s production of smart doorbells, security cameras, and speakers saw delays in Vietnam since May. The country experienced a surge in cases which led to stricter COVID prevention measures.

The Pixel 6 should launch in stores in October, assuming Google adheres to its usual Pixel release schedule. The AirPods 3 should arrive in mid-September, alongside the iPhone 13.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.