Oh dear. Yesterday we had news that someone had managed to get hold of a Pixel 3 XL well ahead of the official launch, seemingly confirming a lot of information about the phone. It seems that was just the tip of the iceberg, though, because according to 9to5Google a lot of the recent leaks are down to a single Ukranian dealer selling pre-release handsets on the black market to the tune of $2,000 each.
This story dates back quite some time, but it seems people ended up on the trail of the black market sale thanks to a video posted by a Ukranian blogger towards the start of August. That video included a link to a Telegram account, which 9to5Google found was being used by a dealer to communicate with potential buyers - and interestingly they seem to be flogging last year's Pixel 2 in addition to the still-unreleased Pixel 3 XL. The account then seemingly directed users to another Telegram account, where people are actually able to buy the phone.
I'm not linking to the Telegram channel, because I don't want to encourage people to go off and purchase phones that have obviously been stolen. But I can tell you what information is stored within. For starters it seems as though the seller only has Pixel 3 XLs, rather than regular Pixel 3s, which explains the disproportionate number of XL leaks over the past several weeks. They're also pre-release versions of the phone, though the seller claims that they will work the same as retail models once they officially go on sale.
The seller wants $2,000 (£1,554.49) for the unreleased phone, and is willing to accept payment by PayPal or Bitcoin - though the latter is apparently more preferable. They also mention that the devices will be globally shipped from London and that there are only a limited number of handsets left. Even though they posted an image of a very large stack of what seem to be Pixel 3 XL retail boxes:
It's worth mentioning that they could be Pixel 2 XLs, since the image is too unclear to be able to properly see the branding, but the box does seem a bit too big from what I remember of last year's model. That said 9to5Google says people have forwarded on conversations they had with the seller, with one buyer being offered upwards of 10 units in one go. So clearly stock isn't quite as limited as has been let on in the public channel.
Slashgear has also been in contact with the seller on Telegram to inquire about their source, but they didn't actually get anything of note. Apparently the seller managed to get the phones from a separate supplier, and believes they were originally intended to be given to Google engineers rather than retailers. It's impossible to tell where these devices have come from, but the fact that they're available in such big quantities means there's been a pretty serious breach of security somewhere along Google's supply-line.
While these sales seem pretty sketchy, 9to5Google claims to have verified reports that recent leaks have indeed come from this seller. So they're not just taking the money and not delivering on their end of the deal. Well, not all the time anyway, because who knows what else is going on behind the scenes.
Given the alleged London location it may seem tempting to try and grab one of these phones for yourself, but you shouldn't. These are stolen phones and you could be arrested and charged for knowingly having them. Plus it's a pre-release model. Who knows how things might have changed since these were made. is nearly £1600 really worth getting an unfinished phone two months early? I say no.
Plus it's not like you'll get to find out new information before anyone else. This phone has already been leaked to shreds, and at this point there's very little we don't know about it. Launch date is currently expected on 4th October, with the official release likely coming soon after. That's not a long wait by any means. [9to5 Google]