Snap it up: can the Pixel 2XL recreate the magic of the first?
Pixel 2 XL gets improved software integration with amazing camera
We’ve got Google phones in the past (hello, Nexus!), but a ‘real’ Google-branded phone came last year, when the company announced the Pixel range. Bringing the Pixel series allowed Google to take over the hardware design, in addition to software, and target the premium segment of the market, which Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S and Galaxy Note devices generally cater to.
This year, Google is back in the market with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, but can they recreate the magic again? We take a thorough look at the latter to find out.
We would have been impressed by Pixel 2 XL’s design if it was launched a couple of years back, but in 2017, when you’re competing with the Apple’s iPhone X and Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note series, the Pixel 2 XL’s design looks uninspiring. The front is dominated by a 6-inch display, but is accompanied by large bezels on the top and bottom, which, when you compare with the Pixel 2, are still better. However, there’s a reason behind larger bezels. They integrate stereo loudspeakers that offer the loudness you expect while watching a video or listening to music without compromising on the quality. The Pixel 2 XL maintains its dual-tone design from last year’s Pixel, and comes in an aluminium unibody design. While we like the design at the back, it makes you feel like you’re holding a phone with a plastic chassis, that does not give that premium feel you expect from an expensive flagship phone.
Nevertheless, despite having a big screen, the phone is great to hold and has excellent weight distribution for a 175g device.
As far as ports and keys placement go, there are power and volume buttons on the right-hand side, a USB Type-C port at the bottom and a SIM card slot on the left-hand side. Interestingly, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack, but Google does bundle an adapter that allows using regular headphones with the phone’s Type-C port.
To sum up the design, Pixel 2 XL isn’t as attractive as its competitive devices, but what it loses in the aesthetic department, it gains in practicality. Its weight distribution makes it easy to use such a large device, and with IP67 certification, the phone is protected from dust and water.
Pixel 2 XL features a 6-inch OLED display that supports QHD+ (2880×1440) resolution and an aspect ratio of 18:9. Now we know that a lot has been said and written about Pixel 2 XL’s display, and while we agree that the bluish tint on the display is evident when looked at from the side, it’s not a deal breaker, considering we use phones looking at them directly and not from the side.
When compared to other devices, Pixel 2 XL’s colours look muted, but the Pixel 2 XL boasts a 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 colour space for accuracy. The phone also gives an option to tweak the colour settings, but we didn’t find either of the settings to change the colours drastically. There’s also Always-on display, along with Night Light, to protect the eyes from the blue light.
Most flagship phones this year are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor, so it comes as no surprise that the Pixel 2 range is powered by the same SoC. Teamed with 4GB and Android 8.0 Oreo OS, the phone is a breeze to use. The phone handles all tasks with ease, with no slowdowns. In fact, the tight integration of the software also helps the phone’s overall performance.
For instance, the built-in Google Assistant that can also be activated by squeezing the sides of the phone, Now Playing recognising songs on the Always-on display, Google Lens baked right into the Photos app — works similar to Samsung’s Bixby image search — and more importantly, free cloud storage for all pictures shot in full resolution in Google Photos. The last bit is exclusive to Pixel phones, as it also helps to save precious storage on the phone, since it does not have expandable storage.
As for the software support, Google has promised to roll out security updates for at least three years (until October 2020). The Pixel 2 XL features a 3520mAh battery that easily gives over a day of use, with moderate use that includes surfing the web for a couple of hours, listening to music, watching videos and clicking pictures. The good thing is that Google also bundles an 18W fast charger along with the device.
The camera was the highlight of Pixel phones last year, and it’s the case this year as well. The rear camera sports a 12.2MP sensor with f/1.8 aperture, OIS and the results are stunning. The camera offers excellent detail with good colours and dynamic range in well-lit areas, besides preserving details in low-light photos.
Unlike many phones that have a dual camera setup for bokeh shots, Pixel 2 XL comes with just one camera. The Portrait mode takes advantage of machine learning to create bokeh photos, and the end result is as good as having two cameras at the back. You cannot edit the depth of field, but the camera takes two pictures at once — one with bokeh and one without — in case you’re unhappy with the picture. The front 8MP camera can also take high-quality selfies, and since the bokeh effect is applied through the software, the front camera can also take pretty-looking portraits with bokeh. On the video front, the rear camera is capable of recording 4K videos at 30fps, and even supports video stabilisation.
Pixel 2 XL is Google’s second attempt to perfect and offer the premium Android experience, and while there are things like the design and screen, which could have been better, the Pixel 2 XL wins if you’re looking for overall performance, camera and battery life.
Price From ₹73,000
Screen 6-inch, 2880×1440 pOLED
Storage 64GB, 128GB
OS Android 8.0
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Camera 12MP, f/1.8, 4K 30fps video
Connectivity Wi-Fi ac, BT 5.0, USB-C