Pixel 2 & Pixel XL
So, just like last year, we have a Pixel phone in two sizes for the second generation. We have a smaller version with a 5-inch display. Though it’s not exactly a petite phone but it doesn’t go with the No bezel-design. It has upper and lower bezels but that does afford front-facing speakers which are nice in stereo. The bigger is still the Pixel XL; the only model to smaller ones made built by HTC but no longer designed by HTC. Google has taken over the whole design thing and they just pick one of the manufactures to actually build the thing. For the smaller model, the display is built by Samsung & the larger model is made by LG and given how close the specs are, you’d figure its the same display as on the LG V30 that released which had a pretty decent ki OLED display which stands for plastic OLED.
The display is pretty sad on the Pixel 2 XL model. It’s grainy, it turns off color angle very quickly (kind of like the OLED displays from years ago) and the colors are pretty muted. You’d never guess it was OLED. And now there’s a whole bruhaha over ‘burning‘ which is something that can happen to OLED displays but when it happens into a week or less, I might worry a little. It’s not the worlds worst displays I’ve ever seen but honestly, when you are spending that much money, you expect something like a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or iPhone 8 which has a great competent IP display; its none of those things. It has 1920 x 1080 resolution display. Nothing too exciting there but that’s perfectly reasonable. I mean that’s 441 PPI given the smallness of the display. It doesn’t look ultra vibrant by any means. It doesn’t have that kind of Samsung OLED look if that’s what you’re looking for here, you’re not going to get it. Colors are natural. With all that being said, it’s just not that bad, It’s okay. It’s not making me feel great about my money that I spent on 128 GB model. Google has this color booster setting. It’s supposed to increase vibrance by 10% and really I couldn’t see the difference there.
Now let’s talk about the value proposition here. I’d like to see a bit more in terms of hardware features. The OS experience should be clean, that’s a whole Android thing that Google’s going for and that’s great. I don’t want to see it overloaded with all sort of software endeavors but its IP 67 water-resistant. Nowadays, high-end phones with price range are IP 68. Either way, you can give it a wash in the sink if it falls in the toilet, disgusting that it is, it should survive just fine. Its just a difference of how long it stays and how deep it can stay submerged in water. There’s no wireless charging; that’s kind of a bummer but when it comes to the software in conjunction with simple hardware, here we have some nice features. I love the Always-On display and that’s something I’ve come to depend upon on various phones that offer it including the recent Samsung phones. You also have a knock to wake the phone. So double tap on the sleeping display, you can see all your notifications and everything that you see on the lock screen. That part is sweetness right there. The front-facing stereo speakers that should be a value-added and that’s a good excuse for having a bigger bezel and I don’t mind if the phone has some bezels especially if there’s a good ergonomic reason for it. The speakers are decent but they are not as good as I expected. This is not exactly HTC boomsound experience. I thought they’d a bit louder and a bit fuller. They’re not bad but they aren’t really that good either. You do get another interesting feature and that comes from the HTC line of phones, it’s coming over to Google here and this is the squeezy phone feature is what I call it. you squeeze it on the sides, the active edge; there are little sensors actually there that notice and you can use it launch Google assistant which is a handy way avoiding saying ‘Okay Google’ to launch Google assistant if you feel funny about talking to your phone.
When it comes to durability, fit and finishes. Well, last years Pixel XL was my daily driver for Android phones. I loved that thing and I always said that that was a phone whose looks only an owner could look. It wasn’t that it looked cheap. It was a decent quality piece of hardware but it was very bland in the design. The most exciting thing you can do is get the Panda Edition which is the black and the white combo on the back which looks really nice. But from the front view, It looks like a budget-Android phone (Ouch!). The back finish, you can feel that its metal but the plastic finish they put over the metal on the back and that’s something LG did with the G5 and that didn’t go over so well. I am not against plastic but its just not durable. I mean the Nokia Lumia phones were stunning looking polycarbonate phones. Even Apple has done some nice plastic phones years ago. I wish they’ve gone for all plastic and then we could have wireless charging but I guess nowadays, the phones are more about looks than about their durability which is unfortunate.
Performance is cool, it’s topnotch. You’ve got Snapdragon 835, which is the best CPU you can get right now in Android land. 4 GB of RAM, that’s nice. Some power people might want 6 GB like the Note 8 or OnePlus 5 but it’s adequate certainly. There’s still no micro SD card slot meaning Google still hates expandable storage. Google Pixel is fast, its fluid. You have clean Android here. You don’t have the software you don’t need. you don’t have duplicate applications, you don’t have carrier bloatware. The OS, of course, is Android 8 OREO and not many phones still have that even though that came out a couple of months ago. This is a bit of sad, isn’t it? Like I expected the Essential phone would ship with Android 8 OREO but it didn’t. But the good thing with Google phones are you’ll always be the first one with latest updates, you’ll be the first kid on your block so to speak and it’s nice to be updated. Headphones audio quality is good. It has Bluetooth 5 and has NFC, you can use it Android Pay and the usual GPS WiFi dual band.
Now let’s talk about the camera. The camera is really a selling point here and it was a shock last year and suddenly look! Google has finally learned how to make good cameras on phones. The original Pixels had fantastic cameras and this one too is very sharp. Its right up there with the best on the market. The only drawback is its 12.2-megapixel, single F.18 lens camera. So, Google who believes everything can be done with AI (Artificial Intelligence) aka software really, in this case, decided to offer ‘FOCA‘ using a single lens which is really just software deciding what to blur in the background and we’ve seen manufacturers do this before and sometimes it works and sometimes it is a total fail and it is pretty unpredictable. It’s not like the iPhone 8 portrait mode, which is pretty darn stellar. It makes you feel like a genius if you’ve never shot a good portrait in your life or even the Galaxy Note 8 tends to do a better job using those dual lenses of figuring out what should and should not be blurred.
For video recording, it has Optical Image Stabilization so you don’t get a lot of shaky videos and shoots it in 4K mode. It can also do slow-motion. 120 frames per second video at 1080p. There’s also 240 frames per second at 720p video recording mode. The front 8-megapixel camera, f 2.4 lens, takes nice pictures.
The phone is really fast, clean Android and it is the first to get Android updates. The camera quality is incredible and has Stereo front speakers. The downside is there is no headphone jack (which is a thing these days), the design is pretty bland. It doesn’t have micro SD slot like Samsung. It doesn’t support wireless charging and the display of Pixel 2 XL is just okay. So that’s Pixel 2. A design only an owner could love it. It doesn’t have the classiest of looks but has one of the best cameras around. So, if you’re an enthusiast and you like clean Android with a great camera, Google Pixel 2 is the phone for you.
If you enjoy reading this, Check my Reviews on Samsung NOTE 8