The ‘Taimen’ has surfaced. The third of three codenamed Pixel handsets – Muskie, Walleye and Taimen – until now it was only rumoured through anecdotal code fragments, but now the device itself has appeared and revealed its core specifications.

The handset was picked up having been tested on ubiquitous benchmarking software Geekbench – a famous honeytrap for upcoming devices. It recorded the handset’s CPU as a “Qualcomm @ 1.90 GHz, 1 processor 8 cores”, aka the Snapdragon 835 used in the US edition of the Galaxy S8. There was also 4GB of RAM and it was running Android O, the next generation of Android due for release later this year.

So how did the Google GOOGL +0.51% Taimen perform? In line with other Snapdragon 835 models:

  • Google Taimen: Single Core: 1804 | Multi Core: 6284
  • Galaxy S8: Single Core: 1929 | Multi Core: 6084
  • Xperia XZ Premium: Single Core: 1943 | Multi Core: 5824

This is impressive given the Taimen is still a pre-production device. Then again the first generation Pixel and Pixel XL actually used a Snapdragon 821 chip, which was an incremental advancement over the Snapdragon 820 in the Galaxy S7. Whether the 821 only existed due to issues with the 820, however, is a matter for debate and there are no signs a Snapdragon 836 is planned at this stage.

So why is the Taimen massive? Because of Google’s smartphone codename history:

  • 2012 – 4.7-inch Nexus 4 (Mako)
  • 2013 – 5-inch Nexus 5 (Hammerhead)
  • 2014 – 6-inch Nexus 6 (Shamu)
  • 2015 – 5.2-inch Nexus 5X (Bullhead), 5.7-inch Nexus 6P (Anger)
  • 2016 – 5.1-inch Pixel (Sailfish), 5.5-inch Pixel XL (Marlin)

Google has always used fish (or whales in the case of the Nexus 6) and they always correspond to size with the larger phone getting the larger species. Muskies (up to 17kg / 38lbs) are larger than walleyes (up to 11kg / 24lbs), but Taimen are in another league altogether with specimens caught over 100kg (220 lbs).

Of course there is a chance such a size difference means the Taimen will be a tablet like the Nexus 9 or hybrid like the Pixel C, though Google has historically differentiated these lines with Nvidia Tegra chipsets and 4GB of RAM in a hybrid would seem low for a late 2017 device.

Furthermore Apple will launch three new iPhones this year (maybe four) with a standout premium 10th anniversary edition among them. Could Taimen be Google’s equivalent standout Pixel? The optimist in me certainly hopes so…