Google’s second attempt at creating its own brand of smartphones is the Pixel 2 series. It has been available for a while and recently received an update to Android 8.1. The larger of the two most recent smartphones from the tech giant, the Google Pixel 2 XL, is the subject of our review to see how it compares to the pure Android experience. If you decide to buy one, be sure to read our review of the Google Earth Live Case as well. You’ll need a smartphone case of some kind to safeguard your investment.
Table of Contents
The following characteristics and features apply to the Google Pixel 2 XL:
- Android 8.1.0, Oreo, as the operating system
- Display QHD+ (2880 x 1440) pOLED at 5.38 PPI, 5.98″ (152 mm), always-on display
- 100000:1 super contrast ratio with 100 per cent DCI-P3 coverage
- 24 bits of depth
- Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM 835 64-bit Octa-Core (2.35GHz + 1.9GHz) processors
- Storage & Memory
- RAM: 4GB
- 64 or 128 GB of storage
- 2 MP, 1.4 mm, f/1.8, laser autofocus, dual pixel phase detection, optical and electronic image stabilisation, 1080p/4K video in 720p
- 8MP, 1.4 mm, f/2.4, fixed focus, 480p, 720, and 1080p video on the front
- Stereo front-firing speakers, Wireless HD audio with LDAC, AptX, and AptX HD are available for media.
- Battery life of up to 7 hours on a 15-minute charge is 3520 mAh.
- Location & Wireless: GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo, Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 22 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 + LE, NFC, eSim
- Network: Global carrier/network compatibility
- Sensors: Accelerometer/Gyroscope, Magnetometer, Proximity/Ambient Light Sensor, Active Edge The Pixel Imprint features a back-mounted fingerprint sensor for quick unlocking, a barometer, a hall effect sensor, an Android Sensor Hub, and advanced x-axis haptics.
- USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 ports
- the mini SIM
- Aluminium unibody, Corning Gorilla Glass 5, and dust- and water-resistant IP67 materials
- 2-year warranty for water and dust resistance
- ready to daydream
- Just black, black, and white
- Weight: 175g Dimensions: 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm
Unquestionably, rectangular smartphones with rounded corners and screens that are either entirely or somewhat curved around the edges are the current “style” du jour for mobile devices. This is also true with the Google Pixel 2 XL. The rear and front borders of a rectangle are somewhat curved, as are the corners. However, it has a functional design and is cosy and simple to hold when not in a case.
The Pixel 2 XL has very few buttons and connectors, with just one USB Type-C charging/transfer port on the bottom and the power button and volume rocker situated in the upper third of the right side of the phone. Your SIM is located on the left side. The device’s front is similarly understated, with the front-facing camera located in the top left corner of the display. On the front of the phone, two front-facing speakers are positioned in the middle of the display’s very top and very bottom edges.
The Google “G” logo is positioned at the bottom third of the Pixel 2 XL’s rear. The rear-facing fingerprint scanner is located just above that in the top third, while the rear-facing camera and LED flash are located above and to the left of that. When setting your phone down on a level surface, bear in mind that the camera does protrude somewhat if you intend to use this device without a case.
Surprisingly, while having a metal unibody with a coated finish, the Pixel 2 XL feels nearly entirely made of plastic. Still, it has a pleasing weight to it and seems sturdy and long-lasting. Additionally, the device is IP67 water and dust-resistant, so you won’t need to worry too much if you drop something on it or inadvertently get it wet.
Our review device was of the “Panda” variant, with a white back and sides save for the top camera/sensor area. It has an intriguing appearance, and the volume rocker is white while the power button is a bright neon orange. Personally, I’m not a huge fan, but if you share my opinion, the Pixel 2 is also available in a completely black colour. The Google Pixel 2 XL doesn’t really stand out in terms of style, and it is identical to many other smartphones on the market. Having said that, it’s a tried-and-true design format that, sadly, functions effectively.
The 5.98′′ 18:9 pOLED display has good colour representations and is quite sharp and crisp at its QHD+ (28801440) resolution. Reading the text was simple, and watching videos was delightful thanks to the 24-bit colour depth and 100000:1 contrast ratio. Unfortunately, when watching most videos, you’ll notice bigger black bars on the left and right due to the 18:9 screen ratio. Depending on your desire, you can also select among Natural, Boosted, and Saturated colours.
The display’s rounded corners did cause the occasional app to lose a little bit of its content, though they do look lovely and help the screen blend in more with the bezels. It’s a minor problem, because screenshots still provide a full rectangular image, so all that’s happening is that the rounded bezel is partially obstructing the screen.
Although Android 8.1.0 was just released, the Google Pixel 2 XL originally came with Android 8.0.0. A few new features have been added to the most recent version of the Android operating system, including the ability to disable the fingerprint scanner after numerous failed tries, in-place system upgrades, the ability to view the battery life of your linked Bluetooth devices, and more.
Another useful feature that can be turned on or off in the settings is the always-on display. The Now Playing feature, which shows the title and artist of any music now playing nearby, is another entertaining feature that I loved.
The Active Edge, which lets you squeeze the Pixel 2 XL to start Google Assistant, and the enhanced fingerprint scanner, in my opinion, are two of the most notable upgrades. Although I don’t use digital assistants much, I did discover that Active Edge made me utilise Google Assistant more often. It truly makes it simpler to access.
It truly makes it simpler to access. Squeeze to activate Assistant is a terrific feature, however, if you don’t want to use Google Assistant, it would be nice to be able to map this gesture to open another app or virtual assistant. Similar to how the notification drawer can now be expanded or collapsed with the fingerprint scanner, much more functionality may be added. Nevertheless, it’s encouraging to see Google incorporate features that other Android OEMs have long used and incorporate them into the default Android interface on their products.
Nothing the Google Pixel 2 XL can’t handle thanks to its 4GB of RAM and Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. Games and apps operate smoothly and load swiftly, and navigating between apps is equally rapid. Given the specifications and vanilla Android, there are no surprises in terms of performance.
One stereo speaker is located at the top and one is located at the bottom of the Google Pixel 2 XL. When viewing or listening to music, it really comes through. Although the sound is clean, sharp, and reasonably balanced, it lacks a little in the bass department, like most other smartphones. However, compared to other smartphones, the Pixel’s sound quality is superior.
According to DXoMark, the Google Pixel 2 XL had the greatest smartphone camera when it was originally released. With a camera app that loads quickly and produces photographs that are generally bright, crisp, and colour-accurate under ideal lighting conditions, the camera on this device is in fact rather exceptional. If you can keep the phone motionless enough, even low-light pictures can be rather good. Since I thought the camera was so good, I actually used it for some of the product review photographs I shot for some recent reviews (like those in our Dell Latitude 7212 review).
Timer, HDR mode, grid aid, colour temperature, manual exposure brightness adjustment, and flash toggle are just a few of the standard assortment of settings available in the camera app. The Pixel 2 XL camera also features a feature called motion that lets you snap a photo and then add a few seconds of motion to it to create a moving image.
The addition of AR (augmented reality) stickers, which let you add everything from text to Star Wars characters and food or sporting events to your photographs, is a delightful feature that Google handed out to the Pixel phones. It generally works very well and can result in some amusing pictures.
Call and Reception Quality
Even though I don’t make many phone calls on my smartphone, the calls I do make have excellent reception and clear, sharp sounds. The person receiving the calls reported that it sounded clear and that they could hear me without any problems.
With smartphones getting slimmer and thinner, battery life is a big worry these days. I was regularly able to go the entire day and then some on a single charge using the Google Pixel 2 XL. I would typically have between 35 and 40% battery life remaining by the end of the day with moderate activity, such as reading and replying to emails and chats, playing a few games for about an hour, surfing the web, and occasionally viewing a movie.
The Pixel 2 XL recharges fairly rapidly, and even a quick 15-minute charge will provide you with a few hours of additional battery life if you do find yourself using the device heavily or playing more games than usual.
Though it isn’t inexpensive, the Google Pixel 2 XL competes head-to-head with rival premium flagship models. For $849 USD ($1159 CAD) for the 64GB version and $949 USD ($1289 CAD), the smartphone is available through the Google Store. The 64GB version is available on Amazon for as little as $719.99USD for an unlocked version, saving you a few dollars.
The Pixel 2 XL’s pricing may appear high, but it is actually in line with that of other gadgets that have comparable specs.
The Google Pixel 2 XL is the company’s second smartphone and depending on how you look at it, it’s third or fourth overall. It is a reliable Android smartphone with the added benefit of having stock Android and fast security updates directly from Google, even though it isn’t particularly unique or unusual. Although it’s pleasant to see Google incorporate some features from other OEMs into the hardware and Android operating system, there is still a tonne of other beneficial features that might be included.