The Google Pixel 2 XL smartphone is the best android smartphone for anyone tired of using Samsung android smartphones. Best to say it’s a very good alternative to Samsung.
Table of Contents
Google Pixel 2 XL Key Features
- Review Price: £799
- 6-inch QHD+ display
- 12-megapixel camera
- Snapdragon 835
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB or 128GB storage
What is the Google Pixel 2 XL?
For the second year running, the larger of the two Pixel devices released by Google is the more enticing.
While the Pixel 2 sticks to a familiar blueprint, the Pixel 2 XL takes a page out of Samsung and LG’s book by slimming down the bezel and extending the display.
Google has crafted a fantastic phone with a stunning camera, but there’s still work to be done.
Google Pixel 2 XL price
Pricing for the Google Pixel 2 XL starts at £799 for the 64GB model and rises to £899 for the 128GB option.
Google Pixel 2 XL release date
The Google Pixel 2 XL is available to pre-order now, with a release date in November.
Google Pixel 2 XL – Design
It’s hard to cover the Google Pixel 2 XL’s looks without comparing it to the competition. For a long time, smartphones were rectangular slabs of metal with a big bezel running around the display and a prominent chin and forehead. All this changed when Samsung unleashed the Galaxy S8, which saw the slimming of that bezel right down and a screen that stretched edge-to-edge.
The Google Pixel 2 XL doesn’t really fit into either category. I’m sure some will claim that it features a bezel-less display – but in reality, it doesn’t. Like the LG V30 and Galaxy S8, the Pixel 2 XL has an 18:9 display with rounded corners – but unlike those devices, there’s still a prominent bezel around its sides. This makes the Pixel 2 XL feel big, and more comparable to the Galaxy Note 8 in terms of size.
At least the bezel serves a purpose in the Pixel 2 XL. Above and below the display sit decent-sounding, front-firing stereo speakers, plus Google has added pressure-sensitive edges that will invoke the Assistant with a squeeze of the sides.
Opting to make a bigger handset requires deeper thought with regards to the design considerations elsewhere. Samsung, LG and Huawei have all started to heavily curve the rear of their devices, helping them feel more comfortable in the hand. Google has done the same, but not to the same extent. As a result, the Pixel 2 XL feels more difficult to hold.
Google Pixel 2 XL – Screen
At 6 inches, the screen on the Pixel 2 XL is the biggest seen on a Google-branded handset since the Nexus 6. The display on that phone was one of its weaker features, and it’s a similar story here.
It isn’t bad. But it simply isn’t in the same league as the panels manufactured by Samsung and used in its own flagships.
Instead of using one of the fantastic Super AMOLED panels from Samsung, Google has opted for a plastic OLED, or P-OLED, from LG. LG isn’t as experienced as Samsung when it comes to building smartphone displays, and it shows.
In terms of colours, the screen lacks punch and whites are often tinged blue. If you’re looking at a website that’s primarily white, the colour isn’t uniform and is frequently streaked with grey. It’s also a very cool display, meaning you’ll feel it in your eyes when you’ve been staring at it for long periods. This is made worse by the fact that Google doesn’t offer any way to alter the temperature of the screen, so you’re stuck with how it comes out of the box. Viewing angles are also quite poor. Tilt the phone to either side and ugly banding will appear, altering the colours.
Google Pixel 2 XL – Performance
Judging a phone’s performance after only a few days using it doesn’t provide an accurate view of how it will behave over time. The majority of phones are fast out of the box, before you really start to fill them up with apps and data, but then proceed to slow down.
Even high-end devices – the Samsung Galaxy S8 being a perfect example – feel far slower following a few months of use.
First impressions of the Pixel 2 XL are that it’s fast – of course it is – and I have no doubt this device will offer the fastest and most reliably smooth Android experience of the year. The pairing of a Snapdragon 835 CPU and 4GB of RAM is tried and tested, plus Google has the advantage of working directly with both the hardware and the software. The original Pixel has also stood the test of the time well, barely losing any of its initial speed in the past 12 months.
Each and every app and game from the Play Store should run fine;, I certainly haven’t had any issues with any title thus far.
Above and below the 6-inch display there are two front-firing stereo speakers. Normally, you’d get a single speaker on the bottom that would easily become obstructed by your hand – but here the sound is pushed directly at you. It’s good and crisp, with distortion kept to a minimum, even at full volume. I don’t believe the speakers perform as well as those of the iPhone 8 for music, but they’re great for watching videos on Netflix or YouTube.
Wi-Fi performance is decent, as is call quality – and in some regions the Pixel 2 XL will ship with an eSIM that will allow you to switch networks without having to pry open the SIM-tray.
Google Pixel 2 XL – Software
One of the biggest reasons to choose a Pixel 2 XL over a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or LG V30 is the software. Instead of layering Android with bloatware and proprietary apps – we’re looking at you, Bixby – Google sticks with a very basic version of Android 8. You’ll also get first dibs on the next three big yearly Android updates, something that’s unlikely with much of the competition.
Android 8.0 on the Pixel 2 XL is clean, well designed and has a sprinkling a surprisingly handy changes. Take the iconic Google search bar, which now sits below the lowest row of icons and can easily be accessed without having to reach up the display. It’s a minor change, but it makes a huge difference on a screen of this size.
There are plenty more thoughtful touches dotted around, too. If you allow it, the phone will constantly listen for music playing in the background and throw it up onto your lockscreen. There’s also a new homescreen widget that shows weather and calendar appointments depending on your schedule.
Google Pixel 2 XL – Camera
One of the biggest annoyances with Apple’s phones is that the company always differentiates between its two flagship models by giving the larger model additional features in the camera department. I really like that Google hasn’t followed suit, ensuring both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are on parity.
Google also steers clear of enhancing the rear camera of the Pixel 2 XL with dual-sensors – but don’t let that put you off, though, since this is a stunning snapper. The 12-megapixel camera is now optically stabilised, has a wider f/1.8 aperture for better low-light shots and a new Portrait mode for effectively blurring the background.
Those specs may not sound groundbreaking – and, on paper, there isn’t much here we haven’t seen before. But Google’s skill is in the software and the processing tricks it applies after the shot has been taken.
Its Auto-HDR+ function – which will require you to take a deep dive into the settings to turn it off – is what makes everything tick along. This levels exposure when the sun is harsh, taking multiple snaps every time you hit the shutter and combining all the images thereafter. The results are truly stunning, with natural-looking colours and fantastic dynamic range. Photos display a real depth, which makes this camera great for taking scenic landscapes and city shots.
Photos captured are also some of the most detailed I’ve seen from a phone. Everything from the expressions on distant faces to intricate details in a flower’s petal are visible.
Google Pixel 2 XL – Battery life
There’s nothing revolutionary or noticeably poor about the 3520mAh cell in the Pixel 2 XL. It’s a perfectly fine battery that’ll get you through the day.
I’ve easily managed to make it through the day without reaching for the charger, comfortably going from morning until night with 15-20% remaining. If you’re a lighter user then you’ll probably have enough power left to last until midday the following day – but to stretch to two days will require close management of your settings.
Screen-on time matches that of other similarly sized phones – the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, for example – at around five to six hours, while an hour of Netflix streaming (Wi-Fi on, brightness set to 50%) consumed around 10% on average.
This Google Pixel 2 XL Review article was originally published by Trusted Reviews.