Reviews

Google Pixel 2 XL – Right through the speed vortex (Review)

The fastest Android Mobile you can get in 2017

Since Google transitioned from Nexus to Pixel, there has been no looking back for the Pixel line up of mobiles. The year 2017 saw the launch of 2 variants of the second generation Pixel mobile: Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Last year’s Pixel mobile was criticized widely for its lack-luster design aesthetics and heavy pricing. The second generation Pixel mobiles are still pricey, but the design has improved a lot. We have the Google Pixel 2 XL at Gadgetdetail and let us review it in this article.

Inside the Box

Pixel 2 Xl package looks plain and simple. Front of the box contains an angled photo of Pixel 2 XL. The one we have here is the Panda edition which is in high demand.

  • Pixel phone
  • SIM ejection tool
  • Power adapter (USB Type-C 18W)
  • Quick Switch Adapter
  • Audio adapter (for 3.5 mm plugs)
  • USB-C cable (USB 2.0)

Design

Pixel 2 XL comes in ‘Just Black’ and ‘Black & White’ color options in India. The Panda variant (black & white) is the most popular among buyers. Powered by super fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, the Pixel 2 XL comes with a large 6″ minimal bezel Quad HD resolution P-OLED display. Aluminum unibody of Pixel 2 XL comes with a hybrid coating. This hybrid coating not only hides antennae lines, it also gives better grip.  The glass and metal rear panel design look better than that on Pixel XL thanks to the smaller glass panel and better color combinations. But still, the design is no match for the sheer beauty of G6 or HTC U11 Plus or Galaxy S8 Plus. The overly done curvature of front side 2D glass reflects light in a way that makes it look like a midrange phone.

Coming to port and camera arrangement, the Google Pixel 2 XL has a clean front dominated by the display panel. The usual array of sensor and front-facing camera are placed above the display. There are dual stereo speakers (one above and one below the display panel). USB Type-C port is at the bottom along with the primary microphone. The volume rocker and power key are on the right side. The left side houses SIM card slot. HTC has implemented ActiveEdge feature (from their U11 phone) in Pixel 2 XL where you can squeeze the phone to perform an action (eg: activate Google Assistant).

The second microphone is at the top and the third microphone is placed near the rear camera module. Unlike other phones, Pixel 2 XL does not rely on a dual camera setup for that bokeh effect and we will discuss this in detail in ‘Camera’ section of this review. The fingerprint sensor is at its usual position (backside, centered below the glass panel). Wired headphone lovers will be disappointed as there is no 3.5mm headphone jack but Google does bundle adapter to connect your 3.5mm headphones to the USB port.

Google Pixel 2 Xl comes with IP67 water and dust resistant for those who tend to get wet often. The difference between IP67 and IP68 (that Samsung flagships are certified as) is that phones like S8 can withstand water pressure at up to 1.5 meters while Pixel 2 XL maxes at 1 meter.

Google and HTC did a better job with respect to Pixel 2 XL design and features but if you are thinking of buying this phone for looks and to make others feel jealous, you better look elsewhere as the phone’s aesthetics and design do not justify its price tag that is north of 65k INR.

Display

The display is a taller 18:9 aspect ratio screen, keeping up with this year’s trend, as started off by LG G6. LG has indeed manufactured the display on the Pixel 2. It is a pOLED display with QHD+ resolution. The color profile is accurate and the display has good contrast and black levels. Slightly turning the mobile to an angle will show you the issues it has with its display. The viewing angles are not good as the images get dull at an angle. The screen also shows a tint of the blue when tilted. The major difference between Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL is its display size as the Pixel 2 has a 16:9 aspect ratio 5-inch display. Though the Pixel 2 does not have any blue tint issue, the 6-inch tall display on the XL makes it an ideal choice due to its richer pixel density and edge-to-edge display design. The screen has always-on-display, thanks to the pOLED type. I liked the “Now Playing” feature which identifies the track being played in the background and shows you the name of the track, however spooky this feature may sound.

Camera

Pixel 2 Mobiles have a 12.2 MP sensor at the back with f/1.8 aperture and an 8 MP front camera with a f/2.4 aperture. A better camera does not warrant for more megapixels and the Pixel 2 mobiles are proof of it. Thanks to the research experience at Google, they have now mastered the art of post-processing mobile images. Also, last year’s Pixel mobile had a great camera hardware and the second generation mobiles are built on that foundation.  The year we saw a whole bunch of mobiles with dual camera systems just for the sake of portrait style photos. But coupled with Artificial intelligence and a highly capable camera hardware, Google has proved that a single lens system would be enough for high-quality accurate portrait shots. Google uses artificial intelligence algorithms to identify the foreground and background and then it gives a natural blur to the background. This algorithm works flawlessly under most lighting conditions.

Even the regular images shot with the mobile are high in quality. Focusing is fast and accurate. The colors are spot on and the images show a wide dynamic range.  Google offers unlimited storage to Pixel users and all of the high resolutions images shot on this camera can be moved to the cloud, free until 2021. The videos shot on the Pixel 2 XL mobile is smooth and pleasant even at the highest 4K resolution.

Hardware and Performance

Google Pixel 2 XL is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip and has 4GB of LPDDR4X RAM. Buyers can opt for 64GB or 128GB of onboard storage. Google provides unlimited online storage for photos and videos. This eliminates the need to have a microSD card slot. The single SIM card slot takes Nano SIM cards and Google should have considered dual SIM card slots as most top-tier smartphone makers are releasing phones with Dual SIM card slots. Single SIM phones may be a good choice for countries like the US, but Asian countries need dual SIM mobiles as a mandatory requirement.

The 6″ pOLED display has 2880×1440 pixel resolution and the panel is sourced from LG. Similar to most minimal bezel phones, the Google Pixel 2 XL display has 18:9 (2:1) aspect ratio. The display panel is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. Please note that the Gorilla Glass 5 can only prevent scratches and it cannot withstand accidental drops on hard surfaces. The battery is rated at 3520mAh.

Other features include eSIM support, Wi-Fi 2.4G + 5GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth v5, NFC, worldwide network compatibility, USB 3.1 Gen1, Daydream support, Wireless HD audio with LDAC, Qualcomm® AptX™ and AptX HD™ audio codecs support. The front firing dual speakers are pleasing to listen to and it makes every other mobile with bottom or rear facing speakers look and sound inferior.

Software

Google Pixel 2 XL comes with a clean build of Android 8.0 Oreo. Like Nexus phones in the past, Pixel 2 XL will get fast Android updates for 2 years at least. Powerful chipset, when combined with AI drive software is the future and Google seem to have excelled already in this year.

In short, Google’s Pixel 2 XL comes with best hardware and software available in the market right now. User experience depends on how Google engineers collaborated to combine hardware and software. We will discuss more of this in the performance section.

Battery

Armed with a 3520 mAh battery along with an 18 W fast charger, the battery life on the Pixel 2 XL is a great experience. It can be charged from 0 to 100% in 1:45 min. Once charged it can give a screen-on-time of over 5 hours. On moderate usage, the mobile lasts for more than a day. Battery life on the Pixel 2 XL is reliable and that makes it a very dependable mobile.

Verdict

The Pixel 2 Xl was expected to be ideal Andriod mobile of the year and it did meet that expectation to some level, if not 100%. It is not without its flaws, but it is still the best mobile that can give you the best Android experience in 2017. Google has raised the bars with Pixel 2 XL. It is a fitting answer to the iOS counterpart. Yes, it is overpriced and it may not offer all those fancy features which a Samsung Galaxy mobile can give you for that price. But the Pixel 2 XL and the Pixel 2 mobile is not a mobile to be owned for its features, but for its flawless execution of Android Experience.

In India, Pixel 2 mobiles are available on Flipkart. Prices are fluctuating as the available offers are changing frequently. Check out the link to know the latest offer.

 

 

 

Giridhar

A Technology evangelist, Giridhar reviews gadgets and mobile applications. He is also a passionate photographer and a user experience designer by profession.

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