Google Pixel 2

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Android Advisor - - Contents -

One year af­ter launch­ing its first Pixel phones, Google is back with its sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of hand­sets. Once again there are two sizes to choose from and we were lucky enough to get an early look at both de­vices. We look at the Pixel 2 here and the Pixel 2 XL on page 20.

De­sign

The Pixel 2 is man­u­fac­tured in part­ner­ship with HTC. The Tai­wanese firm made both of Google’s phones last

year, but the Pixel 2 XL is made by LG, which over the years has made nu­mer­ous Nexus de­vices. The re­sult is that these are two quite dif­fer­ent hand­sets rather than sim­ply be­ing two dif­fer­ent sizes of the same thing.

The Pixel 2 is the cheaper op­tion, though the de­sign isn’t as ex­cit­ing com­pared to the XL. The smaller phone has much big­ger bezels around the screen whereas its big­ger brother is more like the LG G6 or V30 with a ‘Ful­lVi­sion’ dis­play.

It’s a good job that Google has made use of the bezels on the Pixel 2 with front-fac­ing stereo speak­ers this time – oth­er­wise we would have been thor­oughly dis­ap­pointed.

Like the orig­i­nal Pixel, the new phone has a me­tal chas­sis that now houses the cir­cu­lar fin­ger­print scan­ner and Google logo. It’s not wedge shaped any longer but feels nice in the hand with a nice pow­der-like coat­ing on the alu­minium.

There’s a smaller but still un­usu­ally large glass sec­tion at the top that en­com­passes the camera, which is big­ger and looks more out of place this time around not be­ing in the cor­ner.

There’s not enough glass to add wire­less charg­ing but Google has up­graded the de­sign to be fully wa­ter­proof and it has an IP67 rat­ing, which means you can dunk it in up to one me­ter of fresh wa­ter for up to 30 min­utes.

Like the HTC U11, the Pixel 2 is squeez­able so there are pres­sure sen­sors in the sides of the chas­sis where you nat­u­rally hold the phone. It’s called Ac­tive Edge so squeeze it and you’ll load up the Google As­sis­tant to do what­ever you – like ask­ing a sim­ple ques­tion or tak­ing a selfie.

The phone will be avail­able in three colours: Kinda Blue, Just Black and Clearly White.

Dis­play

At 5in, the Pixel 2 has the same screen size as its pre­de­ces­sor and it’s one of the small­est you’ll find on a flag­ship phone. That’s good for some users, but bear in mind that the bezel-free de­signs of late mean much larger dis­plays with­out the de­vice be­ing much or, in some cases, any big­ger.

Google is still us­ing AMOLED tech­nol­ogy here and the res­o­lu­tion re­mains at Full HD (1920x1080), which is fairly low for a flag­ship but does have ad­van­tages when it comes to graph­ics per­for­mance and bat­tery life.

In terms of as­pect ra­tio, it uses the tra­di­tional 16:9, so the Pixel 2 XL couldn’t be much more dif­fer­ent in

the dis­play depart­ment. It’s 6in, POLED, Quad HD+ and has an as­pect ra­tio of 18:9.

Google touts some clever fea­tures in­clud­ing in­tel­li­gently switch­ing off some pix­els when they’re not needed to they stay black. The screen is also al­ways-on so you get in­for­ma­tion when­ever you need it, in­clud­ing a fea­ture called Now Play­ing (ex­clu­sive to the Pixel), which can de­tect what mu­sic you’re lis­ten­ing to from a data­base of 10,000 songs with­out the need to con­tact Google over the In­ter­net.

Pro­ces­sor, mem­ory and stor­age

It’s thought that the orig­i­nal plan for the new Pixel phones was to in­tro­duce a new Qual­comm Snap­dragon 836 pro­ces­sor. How­ever, de­lays on that chip mean both Pixel 2 hand­sets are pow­ered but the ex­ist­ing Snap­dragon 835 which is used in a num­ber

of ri­vals. Although it’s a great pro­ces­sor, launch­ing at this time of year means the Pixel 2 is likely to be one of the last phones with the 835 and it won’t be too long be­fore it’s out of date. This only mat­ters to the kind of user who is keen on hav­ing the lat­est and great­est – dur­ing our hands-on time with the Pixel 2, per­for­mance is very smooth in­deed.

The Snap­dragon 835 is backed up by 4GB of RAM which is about the av­er­age for a high-end de­vice and there’s now dou­ble the start­ing stor­age at 64GB. You can up­grade to 128GB if you don’t mind pay­ing £100 more for the phone.

You should think about which stor­age ca­pac­ity to choose, as the Pixel 2 still doesn’t of­fer ex­pand­able stor­age like most of the An­droid world. How­ever, you do get some free stor­age for pho­tos and video we’ll ex­plain be­low.

Con­nec­tiv­ity

In this area, flag­ships have been top-notch for a long time so it’s no sur­prise that the Pixel 2 has dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC and Blue­tooth 5.0. The lat­ter be­ing the main change, up­graded from ver­sion 2.0.

One of the big­gest ques­tions lead­ing up to the launch was whether Google would fol­low some oth­ers, namely Ap­ple, and ditch the head­phone jack on the Pixel 2 phones. Sadly, the head­phone jack is gone so you’ll need to use Blue­tooth or the sup­plied USB-C adap­tor.

The fin­ger­print sen­sor, as men­tioned, re­mains on the back of the phone which may or may not be your pref­er­ence for po­si­tion­ing. We haven’t tried it

at the launch event but we imag­ine it’s just as good as pre­vi­ously. Google says it un­locks faster than any other smart­phone.

Cam­eras

Like the iPhone 8, the camera is pretty much the same on the Pixel 2 com­pared to the pre­vi­ous model. On pa­per any­way. You get a 12.2Mp rear camera and, although big­ger mod­els of­ten come with dual lenses that’s not the case with the Pixel 2 XL. There’s phase de­tec­tion and laser aut­o­fo­cus, plus a dual-LED flash but there’s now op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion (OIS).

The phone of­fers 4K video record­ing at 30fps and 720p slow mo­tion at 240fps. Google is pretty happy with its com­bi­na­tion of dig­i­tal and op­ti­cal sta­bi­liza­tion for video and in a demo it looks great,

The orig­i­nal Pixel phones were two of the best phones around for pho­tog­ra­phy so we hope that’s the case again. We’ll need plenty of time to test them out be­fore we know for sure. Google has

gone from a DxO score of 89 up to 98, the high­est for any smart­phone to date.

Like its pre­de­ces­sors, you get un­lim­ited cloud stor­age for all your pho­tos and videos taken on the Pixel 2 in orig­i­nal full qual­ity for two years.

At the front is an 8Mp camera again, which seems like it will of­fer per­fectly de­cent self­ies. Some test pho­tos at the launch event from both cam­eras look promis­ing, es­pe­cially the re­sults of the por­trait mode.

Bat­tery life

A break­through in bat­tery tech is ar­guably the most sought af­ter in the phone world and doesn’t ap­pear to be here yet. Like al­most ev­ery phone out there, the Pixel 2 has a rea­son­able size bat­tery but it’s un­likely to last any­one longer than a day of av­er­age us­age. This is our ini­tial im­pres­sion which we’ll test out of course. Google says it of­fers ‘all-day’ per­for­mance.

Once again you’ll charge via USB-C and fast charg­ing will get you seven hours of bat­tery life from a 15-minute charge. As men­tioned ear­lier, there’s no wire­less charg­ing here should that be a deal breaker.

Soft­ware

You’d think the Pixel 2 phones would be the first to come with An­droid 8.0 Oreo, but oddly that’s not the case. Sony man­aged to get there first with the Xpe­ria XZ1 and Xpe­ria XZ1 Com­pact.

That said, these of­fer the pure An­droid ex­pe­ri­ence also known as ‘stock’ whereas the Xpe­ria de­vices use Sony’s slightly tweaked in­ter­face. Hav­ing An­droid com­pletely as Google in­tends it is over­all a very good

thing for us. It means a clean and in­tu­itive in­ter­face with all the best bits of Google – like the As­sis­tant – at your fin­ger­tips with­out dis­trac­tion from of­ten un­nec­es­sary bolt on fea­tures or bloat­ware.

Rather than a de­sign over­all or any­thing sim­i­lar, Oreo brings with it a num­ber of re­fine­ment and some new fea­tures. You’ll ben­e­fit from aut­ofill pass­words, new emo­jis and im­proved no­ti­fi­ca­tions. There’s also pic­ture-in-pic­ture which al­lows you to watch video in a small pop-out win­dow while do­ing other things, although bizarrely this doesn’t work with YouTube.

The Pixel 2 phones will also have ex­clu­sive fea­tures such as a data­base of 10,000 song de­tails so you know what you’re hear­ing with­out need­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with Google. They will also have a preview of Google Lens, so you can in essence do a search with your eyes. By us­ing the camera you can grab emails or

phone num­bers from a photo, rec­og­nize who painted an art­work and get rat­ings for films or books if you take a photo of a poster – for a few ex­am­ples.

Ver­dict

Our first im­pres­sions of the Pixel 2 are mixed. We loved the orig­i­nal and although the new model brings the best of Google via An­droid Oreo, we’re not sure enough has changed to war­rant a higher price and to com­pete with ri­vals. It’s miss­ing key fea­tures too, in­clud­ing wire­less charg­ing, a mi­croSD card slot and an ex­cit­ing dis­play. The Pixel 2 XL is a lot more in­ter­est­ing. Chris Martin

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 5in (1920x1080, 441ppi) Full HD dis­play • An­droid 8.0 Oreo • Qual­comm MSM8998 Snap­dragon 835 • Adreno 540 GPU • 4GB RAM • 64/128GB stor­age • 12.2Mp, f/1.8, OIS, phase de­tec­tion and laser

aut­o­fo­cus, dual-LED flash • 8Mp, f/2.4, 1/3.2in sen­sor size, 1080p • A-GPS/GLONASS • Wi-Fi 802.11ac • Blue­tooth 5.0 • NFC • USB 3.1 Type-C • 2,700mAh non-re­mov­able lithium-poly­mer bat­tery • 145.7x69.7x7.8mm • 143g

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