Without fail, every person who has actually picked up the Pixel 2 XL has said practically the exact same thing: "It feels favor it"s made the end of plastic." I claimed it myself when I an initial held it. That course, no the Pixel 2 no one the Pixel 2 XL room made out of plastic. They"re made out of Gorilla Glass and aluminum, similar to every other deluxe phone these days.

But Google coated all that aluminum v a textured finish that hides most of the antenna present and likewise makes the phones simpler to grip. Google take it what might have been a visually outstanding design and also covered it up in the name of ergonomics. That literally made a steel phone feel favor a plastic one. It chose function over form.

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At practically every turn, with both the hardware and the software, Google made that design decision again and again. There have been a few times as soon as I great the company had risked a little an ext razzamatazz, however mostly I"ve been appreciating the emphasis on enhancing the basics.

"It"s not simply what it looks like and also feels like," Steve tasks once said, "design is just how it works."

The Pixel 2 functions really well.


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Hardware

The Pixel 2 come in two sizes: a an extremely humdrum 5-inch phone through a squared-off screen and also big, chunky bezels, and a slightly an ext impressive 6-inch version with curved corners and also smaller bezels. You"ll need to spend $649 because that the smaller one or $849 for the larger one, through a $100 premium for expanded storage.

As that did last year, Google has actually done its level finest to do these 2 phones identical other than for their size. You"ll gain the same power, performance, and also (most importantly) camera through either device. The only differences are supposed to it is in the screen and also the battery. You might endlessly conflict whether these are the "same phone" in two different sizes. If you change the keel top top a ship, go it make it a different boat? If you replace the screen, body, and also battery on a phone, does it make it a different phone? to me, there"s an ext that’s similar than different, for this reason let"s not go complete Ship the Theseus ~ above them. (Note: once I describe "Pixel 2" below, I"m referring to both. I"ll call out the "smaller" Pixel 2 or the 2 XL particularly where applicable.)

It is true that the Pixel 2 and also Pixel 2 XL are an ext divergent 보다 they were last year — perhaps since they"re produced by different companies. I prefer the XL due to the fact that I prefer big screens, yet obviously the smaller sized Pixel 2 is nicer and also easier come hold. The XL is just a small too big, bigger even than last year"s Pixel XL, yet it does have a larger screen than critical year’s, too.


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The smaller sized one come in three colors, the larger one in two. Each shade has a slightly various texture and also finish, and a couple of have jaunty tiny accent colors on their strength buttons. All have what has become the signature architecture for Pixel devices: a glass "shade" top top the earlier of the phone for boosted wireless signals. The the shade is smaller this year, stopping above the fingerprint sensor, however we’ll have to see if it’s any kind of less susceptible to scratching compared to the an initial Pixels.

Google is sticking v the fingerprint sensor top top the back, in an easy-to-reach spot. It"s fast and accurate. Ns wish the power button, i beg your pardon sits over the volume buttons, to be as straightforward to reach on the XL. I should also note the both models do have actually a small camera bang this year, but it"s not fairly as pronounced together what you"ll check out on the latest iPhones.


Google aimed for “naturalistic” colors, but on the Pixel 2 XL they’re just plain muted

The screen, particularly on the 2 XL, has actually been polarizing. Google opted to track the screen to sRGB (the Galaxy S8, by comparison, offers four gamut options), so that looks a little more like the iPhone"s screen. But more than that, on the 2 XL the colour look muted in a way that numerous Android customers I"ve shown it to discovered distasteful (even v the "vivid colors" setting turned on). Ns think many Android phones, especially from Samsung, room so vivid regarding be phantasmagoric, therefore Google"s selection was to do this more "naturalistic."

Part that the issue, Google says, is that Oreo is the first version of Android come have ideal color space control. So until now, Android developers really didn"t have a method to control precisely exactly how their colors would look ~ above screens. The Pixel 2 is component of an effort to deal with that, however even so, the more "naturalistic" color tuning on the Pixel 2 XL (and, come a lesser extent, the smaller Pixel 2) just looks a small off. The difficulty gets much worse when you look in ~ the screen from angles, the shade swings simply due to the fact that that"s what pOLED does.


We spent a most time staring at various photos top top the Pixel 2, the 2 XL, the iphone 8 Plus, the keep in mind 8, and also the original Pixel XL. When you look at at every the phones next by side, it"s undeniable that the Samsung phone call is madness oversaturated, the iphone 8 watch the most natural, and the Pixel 2 XL is the many muted. Reds ~ above the 2 XL tend to be much more brownish, and also skin tones look a small greener than they ought. The smaller Pixel 2 appears to have better color balance; it"s closest come the iphone 8 the the bunch.

The charitable way to placed it is the Google opted because that something useful when it could have unable to do bolder. The less charitable way to put it is the the Pixel 2 XL has a poor screen with negative color tuning. Because that me, in ~ least, I uncovered that it doesn"t bother me unless I am proactively comparing display screens to another phone. When I simply use the 2 XL day to day, it"s fine. In fact, I evaluate that it"s not as oversaturated together your median OLED Android phone.

There room some who are afraid that the Pixel 2 XL will endure from the screen issues that afflict a closely related phone, the LG V30. That"s not the situation for me; my screen doesn"t have any kind of blotches or dead pixels.

After us posted our initial review, reviewers i found it an “Image Retention” problem on the Pixel 2 XL. You might see ghostly versions of the buttons on peak of the actual image in specific cases, e.g. Looking at a gray image in complete screen. We’ve viewed this actions on multiple review units ourselves, including mere minutes after unboxing a brand-new phone.

Image retention is a thing that isn"t surprising on OLED screens, however this seems lot worse that usual. It’s likewise possibly a authorize of burn-in, whereby the screen is permanently damaged by pictures sitting top top the display for too long. Google has posted one update completing that no of these things space true. It suggests that photo retention and also burn-in top top this screen are both in line with sector norms.

Nevertheless, Google has prolonged the vouch on the Pixel 2 XL for 2 years. The has additionally promised a software update that need to do a couple things: alleviate the potential for long-term burn in over time and also give users the choice for much more vibrant colors.

Those promises are good, however they don’t address other core problems on the screen: graininess and also image retention that very plainly is worse 보다 normal. Is that liveable, offered that you won’t notification image retention except in certain situations? Probably, yet it’s likewise something you need to be conscious of going in.

It"s also not strictly true to say that the Pixel 2 XL is a "bezel-less" phone. Although the bezels are much smaller than those on many other phones, the Samsung Galaxy S8, note 8, LG V30, essential Phone, and also (I think) iphone X all have smaller bezels. The glass is curved on the edge of the XL, despite the screen itself is not, and also I vacillate between thinking the looks elegant and thinking the looks sort of plain. I don"t have that difficulty with the smaller Pixel 2; I always think it looks plain.

On both phones, there room front-facing stereo speakers, as opposed to the mix the front-facing and also bottom-firing ones on the iPhone. It"s among those design decisions Google made preferring function over beauty, since even despite the speakers make both phones taller and also less elegant, castle sound great. They acquire plenty loud, but even in ~ max volume there"s no distortion. There"s also a note of bass. Not as lot as you"ll acquire from a proper Bluetooth speaker, but an ext than you"d mean from a phone.


And as long as we"re talking about audio, let"s talk around the absence of a headphone jack. For a phone the so clearly puts focus on practicality, it"s a stupid and annoying change. Over there is a USB-C dongle in the box, however no headphones are included. I"m well conscious that the desire because that a traditional headphone jack is regarded by many as backwards-looking — if no quixotic — however not having one is still a near-daily hassle because that many.

If there"s any kind of bright spot about Google acquisition away the conventional headphone port, it"s the the Pixel 2 likewise has greatly improved Bluetooth performance. ~ above the original Pixel XL, i was getting no end of stutters and also drops through a couple of different varieties of headphones, yet nary a one ~ above the Pixel 2. Ns don"t recognize whether come credit better antennas, better silicon, or far better software — maybe every one of the above — but I"m happy it"s fixed.

Both phones room rated IP67 versus dust and water, and we dunked "em both a few times without any kind of problems. Since of the aluminum unibody design, they don"t support wireless charging. I uncover that disappointing, as both Samsung and Apple do support it. At the very least Google"s fast charging functions well with the had AC adapter, providing several hrs of charge through a quick top-up.

The Pixel 2 phones have the exact same processor as every various other flagship Android phone call this year: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835. They have 4GB the RAM, which is plenty. Beyond preferring it aesthetically, I"ve discovered that Google"s version of Android just tends come run far better overall than Samsung"s or LG"s. I hope that proceeds to be the situation over time through the Pixel 2 and also Oreo. So far, it"s to be snappy.

Battery life also seems good. The takes some serious occupational to drain the battery on the Pixel 2 XL in a single day; typically it lasts till bedtime just fine. Because that those who pay attention to together things, I"ll say the I"ve to be getting around six hrs of screen time through the brightness at around 75 percent. ~ above the smaller sized Pixel 2, my outcomes haven"t been the impressive, but still fairly good. My colleague Vlad Savov has spent more time with the smaller one, and he tells me he"s obtaining through a full day without issue.


Camera

Last year"s Pixel had the ideal camera you can get top top a smartphone, and also not simply in DxO benchmarks, however in real-world testing. The course, since then the Galaxy note 8, HTC U11, and also the iphone 8 all come along. And I haven"t done enough testing to say whether or not the Pixel 2 deserve to beat the fill again. But after about a main of using the camera, I will certainly say this: it has actually a real shot at being the ideal again.

I"ve currently described the multitude of innovations that room crammed right into the Pixel 2"s camera stack and also image handling workflow, so I"ll simply stick with the short version here. Google is making use of its greatest strength, device learning, to do the camera lot better.

There is a 12-megapixel dual-pixel autofocus sensor on the earlier and one 8-megapixel sensor ~ above the front. ~ above the rear, Google is making use of a slightly brighter lens than prior to with the included upgrade of optical image stabilization. Yet the technological details room less necessary than exactly how Google ideologies photography: the is treating photography prefer a data problem instead of simply a light problem.


For continuous shots in complete auto, the Pixel 2 is excellent. That handles difficult lighting instances without blinking: low-light, backlit subjects, and also my very own shaky hands are not a difficulty for this camera. The selfie camera is 8 megapixels, and also it most likely the best front-facing camera I"ve ever before used. It has a "face retouching" feature, which, like most I"ve tried, is a small over-aggressive in smoothing your pores away.

Take low light, for example: Google tells me that even though it might keep the shutter open longer to carry in an ext light, it"s no bothering. The doesn"t need to because every picture you take on the Pixel 2 is one algorithmically combined set of approximately 10 images.


I uncover the Pixel 2"s photos to be means sharper than the iphone phone 8 and also the keep in mind 8 — almost to a fault in a couple of cases. HDR shots room equally impressive. I like the Pixel 2"s photos overall, also though sometimes it walk a little overboard. Colors space a tiny bit an ext subjective: Google appears to lean toward the iPhone"s more naturalistic look more than Samsung"s lively colors. Yet even then, it"s worth stating that the primary screen you in reality look in ~ the photos on is likely going come be your phone"s screen, therefore the Pixel 2"s photos room going come look a little less vibrant, specifically on the Pixel 2 XL.


Where points get more interesting — and also a little more mixed in the outcomes — is in portrait mode. Google do the efforts to execute the exact same thing v a single lens that other cameras execute with two: finding depth data and also blur the background. Many phones perform this by combining computer system recognition v a small bit of depth data — and Google is no different in that regard.

What is different is that Google is much far better at computer system recognition, and also it"s collection depth data native the dual-pixel system, wherein the half-pixels are literally much less than a micron apart on a single image sensor. Google"s ability at an equipment learning way portrait images from the Pixel 2 carry out a much better job that cropping about hair 보다 either the iphone phone 8 or the keep in mind 8. The dual-pixel depth sensing makes it possible to gain portrait mode working ~ above non-human subjects, yet there it"s a bit more of a wash. Periodically the Pixel 2 can"t rather tell what come blur.


Not only can both sizes of the Pixel 2 carry out portrait mode, both cameras ~ above both the those phones have the right to do it, too. Top top the selfie camera, however, over there aren"t those double pixels to rely on, therefore it demands to watch your face. Portrait setting is fun, and also sometimes girlfriend can obtain really remarkable results, yet to me, on all three of these phones, ns still feel favor this setting is ham-handed. Friend can virtually always view the chop if girlfriend look because that it.

Where the Pixel 2 can"t quite keep increase is v the extra an intricate effects the both Samsung and Apple layer on top of portraits. Through the Pixel 2, the only option is portrait setting on or off. You have actually to set it before you take it the photo, and you can"t readjust it after the shot.

Google is additionally throwing a few other tricks at the Pixel 2 camera. My favourite is motion Photos, i beg your pardon is Google"s take it on embedding little movable photos inside her photo. Favor Apple"s Live Photos, they"re cute and also fun and also not well-supported on social networks. Unlike Apple"s Live Photos, you can"t really do much with Google"s activity Photos. If there"s a way to set a different component of the moving photo as your key frame or a simple way to export come GIF (without resorting come a third-party app), i couldn"t discover it.

I hope the Google iterates easily on both portrait mode and also Motion Photos. The basics space here and they"re fun, but without the capability to do an ext with them, they feeling super limited. I was not able to check the other large camera feature, augmented reality stickers, as they"re getting released later.

One critical thing around the camera: as soon as you tap the small thumbnail for her last shot, it jumps directly into Google Photos instead of that weird limbo-zone camera role you offered to have to deal with.


AI & Software

If girlfriend still think that the version of Android on Google"s phones is "pure Android" and also everything rather is Google"s Android through extra crap layered on, I"m right here to tell friend that’s not really specific anymore. Much more and more, "pure Android" is just a shell of functions and also a couple of key apps and everybody builds on that. Therefore Google"s variation of Android is distinctly Google.

The an initial and most necessary piece of the puzzle is the Google Assistant. That is, the course, available on various other phones, however on the Pixel 2 it just seems to subtly feel like it"s more central to the experience. For me, it came to be clear as soon as I said "OK Google" and the Pixel 2 in reality heard me from throughout the room and woke up.

Android phones have actually been promising the voice suffer for year now, however the fact is that it never ever really functioned all that well. The Pixel 2, v its loud speakers and clearly improved microphones, practically feels choose a Google house smart speaker to me.


Google isn"t really touting that function much. Instead it"s talking around Active Edge, the attribute that allows you to express the phone to launch the Assistant. There"s a quick setup workflow, which i strongly recommend you don"t skip since it describes that come use energetic Edge, you should provide the thing a quick squeeze, not a tough grip.

You can transform how tough you need to squeeze it to make it go; I found over time that harder is better, otherwise you could launch the Assistant simply by picking your phone up. You have the right to also set the squeeze to silence an incoming call, yet those room really the only alternatives that matter. You can"t collection the squeeze out to execute anything else, just like the Bixby switch on Samsung"s phones. Annoying.

Anyway, energetic Edge works, and it"s convenient, but I have so numerous years the "long press the home switch for Siri or Assistant" muscle memory collected that ns didn"t really use it at first. But over time I started to evaluate it more, if only due to the fact that it to be slightly quicker than holding the home button down. I"m still no a talk-to-my-phone person, however I am doing it a little bit more than before.

And "doing a tiny bit much more than before" is type of a design template with the Google Assistant. Google will certainly happily tell girlfriend it can administer "100 million" an ext answers than it could a year ago, yet that feels choose an awfully inflated number to me. Even so, the Assistant doesn"t fairly get enough credit for the enhancements it’s do in the past year, due to the fact that they"ve to be so personal iterative and small.

There is one whiz-bang feature getting included to the Pixel 2: Google Lens. It"s component of Google"s arrangement to make her camera a new kind of input, alongside typing and talking. That"s a nice vision, however the Pixel 2 is very far from realizing it in ~ launch.


For now, Lens is just a switch inside the Google photos app. Friend tap the on a photograph you"ve already taken and it will certainly attempt to determine the object. Google is only supporting type of evident stuff in ~ first: book covers, album covers, popular artwork, landmarks, etc. It can identify other things, however how regularly do you need your phone come tell you the a coffee mug is a coffee mug? the did efficiently identify about fifty percent the cars ns pointed it at, which is neat, and as a "find more cute dogs like the one I simply saw at the park" tool, it"s unparalleled.

But the real point of Lens is because that it to be constructed into the Assistant, functioning in genuine time in a an ext conversational way, and then ~ that, in Google Keep and the camera app and who to know what else. Anywhere you type, Google desires to have the ability to use images. Till it have the right to get further toward the goal, Lens is a sideshow in the image app. A an excellent show, to be sure, however not a really necessary one.


I"m much more impressed through the attribute that ambiently listens for whatever music is playing roughly you and also displays it on the always-on lock screen. That sounds like a creepy feature, yet the Pixel 2 is currently always listening because that you come say "OK Google," for this reason this is just one more thing for it to listen to. Every one of that music acknowledgment happens locally on the phone, and also the database of song is save on computer locally, too, i beg your pardon should help alleviate few of the evident privacy comes to that come together with these kinds of features.

Speaking of the always-on lock screen, it"s nice yet more restricted than what friend can acquire on a Samsung phone, and there"s no method to collection a design template on it.

Every year, Google moves some stuff roughly on the residence screen, and this year is no different. The Google search switch has been integrated into the dock, and it"s also been linked with on-device search. In concept it"s great, and it"s absolutely easier come tap than as soon as it was at the top, however I often ended up tapping something i didn"t want to when I simply wanted to perform a rapid web search. Also, as soon as you incorporate it with the new Weather / Calendar widget at the optimal of the screen, you finish up v less room for your symbols than you had before.

There space some nice little moving wallpapers, yet there aren"t enough of them and there"s no way to make your own. One pretty bit: as soon as you choose a dark background the notice shade and app drawer immediately switch over to a dark theme.


A the majority of phones are designed to razzle dazzle you v their first impressions. The screens on Samsung phones wrap around the edges. The iphone X and Essential phones have screens that walk so far to the edge the they have actually notches reduced out of their screens.

The Pixel 2 and also Pixel 2 XL execute not razzle dazzle. It"s not just the rather disappointing display on the Pixel 2 XL, it"s the Google has gone the end of its means to carry out things that room functional instead of flashy. Instead of going bezel-less, it included front-facing speakers. Rather of a million camera effects, it focused on one or two, while making the main point camera endure much far better with device learning. The perform goes on.


The Pixel 2 has actually many, many things going because that it. To be it not for a few problems — the screen, the contempt inelegant design, and also (yes) the absence of a headphone jack — it can have received the highest possible score we"ve ever given a phone. Together it is, it"s a good phone, yet not quite a house run.

Still, there are just a lot of of tiny things that space better top top the Pixel 2. You find yourself utilizing the Assistant an ext because it"s giving you much better answers end time. You room able to triage her notifications a little faster. The camera provides it much less complicated to get great shots, also in low light.

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The Pixel 2 isn"t the pretty dining room table v the an elaborate silverware. It"s the kitchen counter where you in reality eat. It"s not as impressive, yet it"s much an ext comfortable. That"s what renders the design of this year"s Google Phones great. They"re meant to it is in of use, and they are.