From Pixel to Pixel 2: should you upgrade?

As expected, Google announced its second duo of flagship smartphones yesterday — the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. The two new models improve on the successful recipe from last year by adding features that were asked for, such as waterproofing and stereo speakers, but also doing the controversial sacrificing of the headphone jack.

Is the old Pixel duo now obsolete? Should you go ahead and throw money at the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL? Well, let's try and answer those questions!

Design and display

You probably have noticed by now that the two new Pixels don't just differ in size, they have different display ratios as well. While the small Pixel 2 maintains a regular form factor, with a 16:9 ratio for its 5-inch display and hefty bezels all around, the Pixel 2 XL adopts that fresh new 18:9 display ratio and has a 6-inch diagonal on its screen. The phablet is tall, but not necessarily super-wide, just like the Samsung Galaxy S8+.

The two new phones also have a small ring around their cameras, while last year's Pixels do not — just a small detail for you camera hump-hating folks out there.

So, from a design standpoint, we'd say that the Pixel 2 makes little difference. It's pretty much comparable to the original Pixel and even weighs the exact same. You won't be getting a more compact device and do note that the Pixel 2's shape is a bit more angular — this might irk some.

As for the Pixel 2 XL's design — this is where the fresh new look lies. Oddly, its bezels still look a bit thick, but one could argue that Google did this to improve grip without accidental touches along the screen's edges. Either that or the squeeze tech needed the room. In any way, if you upgrade from the Pixel XL to the Pixel 2 XL, you will get a phablet that is slightly taller and just slightly heavier than your current one. We wouldn't list those as negatives, though — consumers that go for phablets are rarely concerned with portability and one-hand use, right?

Just like before, the Pixel 2 siblings use an AMOLED panel for their displays, which means deep blacks and vivid colors for both generations. No difference there.

Software and interface

The Pixels are Google's phones and both will be getting timely Android updates — that's the whole plan. Last year, the company promised that its phones will get 2 years of Android updates and 3 years of security patches past its official release date. So, your 2016 Pixel is still good for a year and will be getting Android P when it launches. The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL now have a 3-year-of-updates promise, so they are a bit more future-proof.

Now, the Pixel 2 was announced to have some super-neat features, like the always-on music recognition (shows you what song is playing in your environment right on the lock screen), Google Lens (recognizes what the camera is looking at), and real-time translation via the Pixel Buds. Would these make their way to the OG Pixels? We sure hope so, but have no solid confirmation yet. While music recognition and Lens aren't must-have features per se, we'd say that the translation feature with the Buds might definitely change some lives and we'll be sure to let you know if it's coming to the older (and now cheaper) Pixels.

Update: Google has now confirmed that real-time translation through the Pixel Buds will work on the 2016 Pixels as well as the Pixel 2 and 2 XL.

Camera and other tidbits

Last year's Pixels had amazing cameras that really took the tech world by surprise. It's nice to see that Google continued the effort and the Pixel 2's cameras seem to be raising the bar appropriately. We wouldn't say that the OG Pixel is obsolete as a cameraphone just yet, however.

On the other hand, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL do offer a Portrait Mode, achieved with no dual camera or fancy sensors mind you, which we assume won't be making it to the older Pixels. But that's fine, Portrait Mode is a nice-to-have feature, but hardly a must on phones, unless you are obsessed with the shallow depth of field shots.

The stereo speakers are quite promising, packing a punch in both the volume and depth department. Again, not a feature to make you buy a phone by itself, but certainly, one that is quite nice to have.

And, this year around, we get HTC's squeeze feature on the Pixels — you squeeze the frame of the Pixel 2 or 2 XL and the Google Assistant boots up, listening for your command. Eh, we're pretty sure that's not a must-have.


So, are the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL worth upgrading to, if you have a Pixel or Pixel XL? We wouldn't say the step is a must. The two new phones are a nice evolution over last year's devices, there's no denying that. But the old Pixels are still pretty good in their own right and will be getting Android updates for yet another year.

Of course, carrier deals might pop up that make you a great discount on a brand-new Pixel 2 or 2 XL, in which case we'd say go for it.

On the other hand, if you don't own any Pixel device, now's the right time to check out last year's Google phones — new, refurbished, or second hand — you can surely get a deal. They are still pretty awesome handsets.

Related phones

Pixel 2 XL
  • Display 6.0" 1440 x 2880 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2350 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 3520 mAh
Pixel 2
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2350 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 2700 mAh



1. PhoneInQuestion

Posts: 496; Member since: Aug 20, 2017

Exhaust your phone before even upgrading it, the second generation pixels are not even that interesting outside of their cameras.

7. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1354; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

I'm going to upgrade. The water resistance is a huge plus for me and my fishing hobby. Google also sent me a trade in offer so I get $410 for my Pixel XL and a bonus home mini. Then I'm good for 2-3 years.

13. Nine1Sickness

Posts: 896; Member since: Jan 30, 2011

Good for 2-3 years or when the Pixel 3 comes out, which ever comes first. Right?

15. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1354; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

I'm pretty sure 2-3 years. I rocked the Galaxy S3 until the S6. I'm only on the Pixel cause I got it for a very sweet deal from my brother. I originally intended to keep the S6 for 2-3 years.

16. bambamboogy02

Posts: 842; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

Same Here. $410 for trading in my old Pixel XL, , Yes Please!

18. Scott93274

Posts: 6042; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

I'm ready to buy the Pixel 2, but I'm not seeing a trade in offer for my 6P like I did a week or two ago for the Moto X4 from Google Fi... Do they pick and choose what phones you can trade in for with new models? If that's the case then I'm super sad.

19. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1354; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

They will give you up to $165 for a 6P and they only take certain models from: Apple, LG, Google, Huawei, Moto Samsung.

21. vandroid

Posts: 406; Member since: Sep 04, 2012

That’s a pretty sweet deal, Naruto kun

22. DellB

Posts: 57; Member since: Jun 07, 2015

Question: What do these companies do with phones that are sent in as trade-ins?

24. UnlimitedSkye03

Posts: 300; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

Wow that's a freakin' sweet deal :) wish every company would do that :)

8. Lumbergh

Posts: 463; Member since: Feb 14, 2016

Google just replaced my 6P with the Pixel XL due to battery issues. All I have to say is the Pixel XL is one of the best smartphones I've ever used. Yes, it's pretty unattractive and looks like an iPhone clone. But performance is top notch, camera is excellent, 3.5mm headphone jack is included, battery life is excellent, and it feels great in the hand. I will only buy a phone with a jack.

2. surethom

Posts: 1748; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

No real reason to change now if the screen had been 5.1" with slightly smaller phone dimensions & only a few mm smaller bezels then yes. Google did not care about the pixel 2 hence the very very short time they spent on the pixel 2 all the time was on the XL.

4. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Exactly what I experienced in the Pixel 2 and XL 2 unveil event. The presentation was like 90% about the Pixel XL 2, and the smaller Pixel 2 didn't have much time of showcase. The Pixel XL 2 ia more in line with the current design trend. The Pixel 2 isn't worth the upgrade, though.

9. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

The thing is, if Pixel 2 sales are slow due to this lack of effort, as with all manufacturers Google will come to the conclusion that people don't want these small phones - when in reality they do, they just want the same effort put into them as the larger "flagship" models. I'd happily pay the same price for a smaller phone with same tech as the larger, I think many would, but I don't like buying something that seems to be an afterthought.

12. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Yeah, though sometimes internal space is needed for all the bells and whistles our modern flagship phones have, so it isn't always possible to cram in all of them into a sub-5inch phone without thermal issues ... Just saying.

17. bambamboogy02

Posts: 842; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

I disagree, My wife loves the Original Pixel, it's perfect for her hands. The Pixel 2 add's what she lost going to the Pixel, Water Proofing. I debate sometimes getting the Pixel, and getting rid of my Pixel XL. I can't lie, it's not that bad to hold and use.

3. Sakeem

Posts: 865; Member since: Sep 05, 2012

I will be upgrading. Just not right away. My Pixel XL still works like it did from day 1. However, the money I will get for trading it in towards the purchase of a Pixel 2XL makes it very tempting to do it now.

6. libra89

Posts: 2335; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Yeah the trade in value is decent, and I love that you get a credit back on your card!

5. libra89

Posts: 2335; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

I have a small Pixel and the additions that I will use are upgrade worthy for me, especially with the trade-in that Google is offering for current Pixel owners. If I didn't have a Pixel currently, I probably would wait it out. The song ID is something that I see myself using daily.

10. poptart574

Posts: 223; Member since: Feb 29, 2016

No jack no buy. If one of my favorite brands drops the jack then I move on to the next favorite brand. Lol

11. sentinel336

Posts: 46; Member since: Oct 30, 2015

Very disappointed with the lack of a headphone jack, expandable storage, and wireless charging. I don't want to have to worry about charging my phone and my headphones. Looks like Samsung will get my money, but I was hoping to switch to the Pixel 2 XL. Missed opportunity, Google.

14. 22MNasby

Posts: 6; Member since: Feb 20, 2016

Google doesn't need to cater you or other tech people they need to cater to the mass. I would say that 80% of the people that have expandable storage don't use it, or don't even know how to use. They might not even know they have it. Eventually, all companies will stop using headphone jacks. Most don't use wireless charging because it slow, then they forget altogether that they have it. Until wireless charging is the same speed as wired it will not go anywhere

20. sgodsell

Posts: 7609; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

As far as the wireless charging is concerned. You can get a $15 Qi wireless charging tag with USB-C, and it full supports the Pixels. Unbox Therapy had a video on it. The 3.5mm jack has a major problem. You have to worry about the dac and amp hardware to drive the audio jack. If you get a good Bluetooth headset or ear buds. Then the onus is on the audio headset OEMs now. Sure there is the added problem with charging the battery for these new Bluetooth headsets. But then you have the option to buy some that can offer up to 40 hours of play back. I have a Bluetooth headset myself that lasts 27 hours of music playing. For me that lasts for my commutes for the week and then some. Plus Bluetooth 5 now supports double the distance, and up to 4 different audio devices simultaneously.

23. Scott93274

Posts: 6042; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

I just bought the white Pixel 2 with 128GB.i should have it by Halloween.

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