Google Pixel 2 & Pixel 2 XL: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
On October 4 Google introduced its latest ‘made by Google’ phone, the Google Pixel 2. In fact, and in accordance with expectations, Google unveiled two Pixel 2 models, the standard Pixel 2 and a new Pixel 2 XL. Both of which follow-on from last year’s Pixel and Pixel XL models, although that does not mean they as alike as their predecessors were. If anything, the differences between the Pixel 2 and 2 XL are now far more apparent and in many ways highlights what is good and what is bad about the Pixel line in general.
When it comes down to it, the Pixel 2 XL is good. It really is, and really does look like an evolutionary step compared to last year’s model. One of the most notable design changes with the new Pixel 2 XL is that Google has opted for a bezel-less display. Arguably this is not quite as bezel-less as some devices from other manufacturers, but is still enough and certainly when compared to the rather thick top and bottom potions included with last year’s model. Adding to that is the inclusion of an 18:9 aspect ratio which has quickly become one of the go-to features for smartphone manufacturers this year and it is good to see Google keeping up with its contemporaries on design – something the company has been criticized on when it comes to the Pixel and Nexus lines in general.
Speaking of which, another good point with the Pixel 2 line is that they now come with some OTT features. Most manufacturers are now looking for ways in which they can distinguish their smartphones from the rest of the pack and up until now, whether it be Pixel or Nexus, Google-affiliated phones have been a little lacking when it comes to additional features and functionality. Yes, you get the latest version of Android and everything that comes with it (although that also rolls out to most other flagships in due course), but in general, Pixel and Nexus phones have been a little too stock when it comes to additional features. That has now changed however as in addition to the already mentioned 18:9 aspect ratio on offer with the 2 XL, both models also feature Active Edge. While this is not exactly a new new feature (HTC U11), it is still one that you won’t find on (most) other phones and one that not only adds to the software experience on offer, but also the value associated with the Pixel 2 and 2 XL.
Continuing with the experience, and the original Pixel and Pixel XL phones were all about the camera and while it may be a little early to return a verdict on the cameras on these latest models, the early indications is that the camera experience is second to none. This is something that already seems evident based on the announced DxOMark scoring as the Pixel 2 has seemingly crushed the competition, and by a wide margin. Something which is even more impressive when you consider the Pixel 2 and 2 XL only makes use of one rear camera – compared to the likes of the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus (the nearest rivals on DxOMark) who employ the help of dual rear cameras – offering consumers a dual camera experience without actually providing the dual rear cameras. So it is clear that Google has placed a good deal of focus this year on the software experience and this is without even taking into consideration the likes of Google Lens (debuting on the two Pixel 2s), the advancements of Google Assistant, the various other Pixel-specific launcher tweaks, free full quality photo back ups, and of course, three year’s worth of OS updates. All selling points in their own right, and all ones which further highlight the user experience.
Last but not least, another very good thing is that even though there are two models available, beneath the surface they are almost identical. This was the case last year and it is good to see Google continuing that approach this year. As regardless of which model you opt for (and barring the likes of screen size, resolution, and battery capacity), the experience on offer should be very much the same. Meaning the only real decision is which device size is better suited to your needs. Are you more of a 5-inch or a 6-inch person?
One of the good points already noted is that there are two models with one of them adopting a premium stance, however, this is also one of the bad aspects. As while Google is offering consumers a choice of size, they are also by default forcing that choice to be about the quality of the display in general. One of the best aspects of the two new Pixels is that underneath they offer a same experience, however the same cannot be said for the exterior. Not only is the Pixel 2 XL better on paper, but it looks better – and again, by some margin.