It’s been nearly 2 months since the release of the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, shortly afterwards the media unleashed a full on assault on the Pixel XL 2 screen quality.
It was quite ridiculous and overblown but the tech media loves a good bandwagon, it was due to some blue tint at an angle and some subdued colours on the 6″ QHD screen. Google released Android Oreo 8.1 last month and it fixed those devices with the issue and it really is a superb device, I managed to get my hands on both the Black and white XL 2 and a Clearly White Pixel 2.
I’ll mostly cover the XL 2 in this post and follow-up with a more in-depth look at the smaller Pixel 2 soon.
The infamous screen
I’ll start by saying yes before the 8.1 update it did have a slight blue tint if you tilted the phone to the side, you wouldn’t notice it head on whilst using it but I understand the complaints some people had for price it cost.
All OLED screens had some degree of blue tint due to the nature of the materials, I have some on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone X but somehow Google became the poster child of this imperfection.
I updated the XL 2 to Oreo 8.1 and noticed the improvement straight away, colours had become more saturated thanks to a new colours setting, Along with saturated were Boosted and Natural options.
I’m a heavy iPhone user and I found the natural or boosted choices looked perfect to me but from some Android users who might be use to the bright saturated screens of the Galaxy phones I’m sure they’ll be happy with the new settings.
The screen is 6″ QHD+ (2880 x 1440) pOLED at 538ppi and very nice and clear since the 8.1 update, I like the always on display and curves at the corners of the screen which give it a nice modern design compared to the iPhone 8 Plus.
Blacks are pitch black and with boosted or saturated switched on, colours are vibrant and stand out on everything from app icons to photos. From my understanding though if you have saturated switched on the you don’t get the full P3 colour gamut, the average consumer won’t know or care what that means but it’s just a wider selection of colours the display can show.
I love the feel of this device, it has a soft grip on the metal back and sides with a nice black glass piece at the top. I find the rounded sides a lot more modern than the squared off corners of the smaller Pixel 2 and the is clearly the device Google is most proud of, used in all promos and adverts for the Pixels.
This was built using factories belonging to LG so there is a reason it looks different to the smaller model which was built by HTC, I assume Google wasn’t happy with HTC XL 2 and asked LG to modernise it ASAP. The front is gorilla glass 5 with an 18.9 ratio and videos look great on this thing, I won’t cry about it but I do wish they’d force the HTC folk to innovate like its 2018 and not 2011 and lose the damn bezels.
The front facing stereo speakers are clear and louder than both the Pixel 1 and iPhone X, it’s great to see them on a phone with minimal bezel and not blocked at the bottom of the phone when held in landscape.
There is no headphone jack on the 2 or XL 2 and that sucks but after using an iPhone 7 for a year you get use to it, it’s the way the industry is heading so I invested in bluetooth headphones which work well with the Pixel. It uses USB-C fast charging again like the originals and it is bloody fast, you don’t realise how good this feature is until you return to an iPhone or Nokia 3310.
Both models come with active edge, which allows you to squeeze the sizes to bring up the Google assistant, a nice feature but not really needed. Snapdragon 835 processor, IP67 rating, Bluetooth 5.0, 4GB RAM and comes in 64GB or 128GB models for each colour except Kinda Blue, that comes in 64GB only on the smaller Pixel 2.
And yes the fingerprint scanner is ridiculously faster than anything else I’ve used.
The game changing Cameras again
So in 2017 the Pixel had the best camera of any smart phone on the market and it is again in 2018, it is spectacular and that is all thanks to Google’s machine learning and post image processing software. It is light years ahead of anyone else at the moment with only one lens on the back compared to everyone sticking a 2nd lens on the back but not really improving anything for the average snapper, the closest to the Pixel 2 cameras is maybe the iPhone X but what happens when Google add a second lens? what will Apple and Samsung do next to try to catch up.
It’s a 12.2mp rear camera with f1.8 aperture and Optical + electronic image stabilisation, the front camera is 8mp with a f2.4 aperture, Both give a clear stunning image but the newest feature is portrait mode and in some cases the image is even better than what the iPhone 8 Plus/X produce.
The Oreo crumbs
As I mentioned earlier I had updated this device to Oreo 8.1 which also brought a few extra features to the original Pixel phones, aside from some new bug fixes and security updates it brought AR stickers to the camera app.
These things are great fun and just the start of the Augmented Reality onslaught heading our way this year, Google has leaped ahead of Apple with ARcore when you compare these to the ridiculous Animoji feature on the iPhone X.
I also found it even more snappier than before and app opening times feel faster, I think this is what Android is all about when done right but it took Google to come into the hardware market and show others how its done. I think this is the beginning of something great here built on the solid Pixels released in 2016, Google mean business and with the best cameras for the 2nd year running according to DxO mark it could be the start of something refreshing.
For other features on Oreo, see my previous post Here
Finally, Google Lens is a futuristic feature that’s built into the photos app and the assistant, when you take a photo and tap the Lens icon it will give you info from the web on that image very quickly and its great whether its a landmark or an album cover. It worked well for me when I took an image of an email address on a poster and it allowed me to save that address, it’s very clever AI and AR and the possibilities are very exciting going forward.
So what now?
Do you buy one? do you already have one? are you an iPhone user? It is so close now in the smart phone market, iOS and Android Oreo are very similar but I actually find Oreos UI cleaner and smoother than iOS 11 this year and with the amazing cameras on the Pixel 2, I have to say it feels the better device for 2018.
I think some Americans will miss iMessage but the rest of the world use WhatsApp or FB messenger so it won’t be such a shock to make the change. The unlimited storage on google photos is a fantastic extra and is very enticing to those who take so many photos, I have an iPhone X but since getting the Pixel 2 it’s been very hard to put it down because it’s just that fu@king good.
Personal Verdict ~ 4.5/5