Killing off the Nexus lineup was a bitter pill to swallow for many Android fans, but in place of that, we got the Pixel series – two no-nonsense flagship smartphones that improved vastly upon the Nexus series’ biggest shortcomings, build quality and camera performance. We found the Pixel XL to be an excellent Android device when we tested it. However, the Pixel phones have seen their fair share of issues, ever since their launch last October. These included a freezing camera , trouble with Bluetooth pairing, reports of spotty LTE connectivity and even audio distortion problems. The last of those turned out to be a hardware issue and the only fix was to get a replacement unit.
It’s issues like these that made us wonder whether Google was committed to hardware, or whether this was yet another expensive experiment. As it turns out, the company is indeed serious enough to acquire a large part of HTC’s smartphone operations.
This brings us to the brand new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, phones designed and built under Google’s supervision. This new generation of flagships will take on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8 series, Galaxy Note 8, Apple’s iPhone X and 8 series, and LG’s V30. Oh, and let’s not forget Sony’s new Xperia XZ1 either. So, are they any good? We got to spend some time with both of them at the company’s hardware event in San Francisco, and here’s what we thought.
The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL share many core features and and specifications, just like their predecessors, so lets get that out of the way first. Both phones are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 SoC and have 4GB of RAM with either 64GB or 128GB of storage. You can’t expand storage, just like with the original Pixels. They do have IP67 ratings for dust and water resistance, as well as stereo speakers, which brings them up to speed with the rest of today’s flagships. Both feature aluminium unibodies, with fingerprint sensors on the back. Both also run on Android 8 Oreo and updates are guaranteed for a long time. There’s a new feature called Active Edge, which works similarly to the ‘squeeze’ gesture on the HTC U11, and is set to trigger Google Assistant.
After using both phones for a while, we think its safe to conclude that the Pixel 2 is designed for more practical, everyday use while the XL version is for those who want to show off. That’s because the Pixel 2 has a standard 16:9 full-HD screen whereas the XL boasts of a trendier 18:9 QHD+ panel. The Pixel 2 is easier to grip in your hand and feels really light. Its 5-inch full-HD OLED panel produces nicely saturated colours. On the other hand, the Pixel 2 XL features a 6-inch pOLED display, which is how Google is able to curve it around the edges of the device. This one produces equally good colours and saturation.