Google has yet to unveil the Pixel 2, but the rumor mill is already churning in anticipation of the Pixel 3 to launch in 2018.

For a good number of years now, Google has teamed up with various smartphone makers each year to release one or two smartphones that promote a pure, stock Android experience. Such smartphones made up the Nexus line, which turned into the Pixel line last year when Google released the Pixel and Pixel XL.

Samsung signed a two-year agreement with HTC for the Pixel line, which means that the upcoming Google Pixel 2 expected later this year will be manufactured by HTC as well.

With the Google Pixel and Pixel XL widely seen as two of the best smartphones of 2016, expectations are high for the Pixel 2 and Google has already confirmed that it's in the works.

While we still don't have a definitive release date on the Pixel 2, the rumor mill is already looking at the next smartphone in the series, purportedly the Pixel 3, expected to arrive in 2018. By then, Google's two-year partnership with HTC will have expired and the company will once again be looking for a new manufacturing partner.

Smartphone Makers Already Competing For Google Pixel 3

A new report out of Asia now claims that smartphone makers, including HTC, are already fighting for the chance to team up with Google for the 2018 Pixel 3. Chinese news outlet Commercial Times reported that a number of OEMs are in the running, including HTC, LG, Coolpad and TCL, competing for Pixel 3 orders, according to DigiTimes.

The report notes that LG looks like the favorite candidate for Google Pixel 3 orders, and it seems like Google has ambitious plans for its 2018 flagship smartphone. Pixel 3 orders are apparently expected to hit 5 million units next year.

The same report confirms that the Google Pixel 2 line due later this year will come from HTC just like the 2016 Pixels, and should hit the scene sometime in the fall. The Pixel 2 smartphones will be premium offerings designed to go head to head with high-end flagships from Samsung, Apple and other smartphone makers.

Recent rumors regarding the Pixel 2 line also revealed the purported codenames of the upcoming smartphones — Muskie and Walleye — and the latest report from Commercial Times (via DigiTimes) bolsters the claim.

With the Pixel 2 smartphones ready to hit the scene later this year and HTC already on board as the manufacturer, the idea that Google might already be looking for Pixel 3 partners is not too farfetched.

With both HTC and LG in the running, the race for the Pixel 3 seems heated already and it will likely heat up even further after the Pixel 2 hits the market. It's still early on, however, and a lot could change until Google is ready to confirm its Pixel 3 plans. The news remains in the rumor state for now, so treat it accordingly. That said, which smartphone maker would you prefer for the Pixel 3? Let us know in the comments section below.

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