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Google's pricey Pixel phones aren't selling, even at steep discounts

With the cheaper Pixel 3a or Pixel Lite reportedly on the way, Google will change strategy and target budget-conscious consumers.

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Angela Lang/CNET

Google's Pixel 3 line of phones may be praised for its speedy performance and excellent cameras, but that hasn't done much to help the company gain traction in the smartphone market. 

Speaking on parent company Alphabet's earnings call Monday, chief financial officer Ruth Porat acknowledged, as transcribed by Seeking Alpha, that the company's phones haven't been selling as strongly as they would've liked. Porat said that Pixel sales were lower year over year, in part due to "heavy promotional activity industry-wide, given some of the recent pressures in the premium smartphone market."

Google's latest Pixels, available from Verizon, Google's Fi or unlocked in the US, launched last October starting at $799 for the 5.5-inch Pixel 3 and $899 for the 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL. The high prices put the phones in close competition to rival flagship devices from Apple and Samsung

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The company has become more aggressive in trying to get more people to switch to its phones, with a new promotion on the Google Play Store knocking the prices down by $200, bringing the regular Pixel 3 to a $599 starting price and the 3 XL to $699. 

Earlier this month the company went so far as to take 50% off the Pixel 3 price if purchased on Google Fi, though that deal has since ended. 

Luckily for the company, and fans of the brand hoping to save a bit more, rumors point to the Pixel 3 getting cheaper siblings shortly. Dubbed the Pixel 3a or Pixel Lite, the new phone is expected to share the same general look as the current Pixel line, but switch to a slower Snapdragon 670 processor, lower standard storage (32GB instead of 64GB) and plastic as opposed to glass, to get to a cheaper price. 

Noted leaker Evan Blass recently tweeted images of the forthcoming handset, including one in a new purple hue. 

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Google Pixel (32GB, Quite Black)
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