Google Pixel 2 XL hands-on


We are down to the wire! The holidays are just right around the corner and nearly every major manufacturer has announced its lineup for the impending season, with the exception of good 'ol Google. Well, the time has finally come, as the search giant unveiled its successors to its highly popular Pixel phones. Similar to last year's approach, we're given two brand new devices to choose from – the smaller Pixel 2 and the larger Pixel 2 XL

The Pixel 2 XL will be scrutinized moreover because it's the larger of the two (with slightly better specs), but what's different here versus last year's offering is the manufacturer behind the scenes. Gone is HTC, shockingly replaced instead by the folks over at LG. For the Korean company, they've already astounded many critics with its V30, but does this XL-sized smartphone have what it takes to tangle with the other giants in the space? Given the options out there, like the LG V30, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and iPhone 8 Plus, the Google Pixel 2 XL has a tough road ahead in standing out and needs to be convincing to stand a chance.

Design


Google Pixel 2 XL hands-on
Google Pixel 2 XL hands-on
Google Pixel 2 XL hands-on
As we've noted here, the manufacturer of this year's Pixel 2 XL is LG. From the front, it follows after the LG V30 in similar fashion with its tight bezels and all-screen in-your-face design – a trend that has no doubt caught on! There are even the same sloping curves of the display that gives it a slightly more comfortable feel in the hand, making its predecessor appear flat in comparison.

Flip around the phone, however, it draws from what the Pixels established last year with its glass meets metal obstruction. Obviously, it's a design cue that makes it distinctive to the Pixel line, but what's odd is that the so-called metal body employed here feels a bit more plasticy in reality – resulting in a phone that doesn't feel as premium compared to the competition. Even though that won't be a deal breaker for some, it's still something noticeably different from last year's offering.

Despite that, we do appreciate that the Pixel 2 XL now offers an IP67 construction for water and dust resistance. That's fantastic news, as this has become a common theme amongst all high-end phones of late. Another particular design change we're glad to see is the addition of dual front-firing speakers. While that's fine and dandy, it still should be worth noting that the design continues to forgo the headphone jack – and wireless charging is unfortunately still absent.

Display


What makes the Pixel 2 XL different from its sibling in the Pixel 2 is its larger sized display, which in this case is now a 6-inch 1440 x 2880 POLED display. Following the trend we've seen of late, it features an 18:9 screen aspect ratio, giving it that super widescreen appearance. So far, we can't complain about this change, since it's highly detailed, offers wide viewing angles, and colors don't appear to be overblown or saturated.

Better yet, the screen aspect ratio pairs well with those new dual front-firing speakers – giving it more of a drawing factor when it comes to watching videos. There's plenty to love about the display here, which Google claims to achieve an even wider color gamut. Taking into consideration the larger size, higher resolution, and screen aspect ratio, there's no denying that the Pixel 2 XL draws more attention with its display over the Pixel 2. Compared to other phones, though, that's still questionable. Time will tell! 

Google Pixel 2 XL hands-on
Google Pixel 2 XL hands-on
Google Pixel 2 XL hands-on

User Interface


Being a Pixel smartphone and all, there shouldn't be any surprises here with the software. It's running stock Android 8.0 Oreo, and for the most part, the clean and intuitive interface is something hardened Android fanatics will be familiar with. Interestingly enough, while the hardware improvements to the phone are always appreciated, there are in actuality more noteworthy things found with the new software experience. This new commitment is profound to say the least!

Most of the Pixel 2 XL's software features are discrete, but those with a keen eye will notice a few of them. For starters, it's wonderful that Google Assistant helps us keep up-to-date with the new "at a glance widget" on the homescreen. It'll display relevant reminders that'll ensure users they're constantly up-to-date with whatever's on tap with their schedules. Secondly, the always-on display feature eliminates the need to search who's singing a song, as it's constantly listening and determining that.

And while it might come off as a novelty for some, the new squeeze feature allows you to instantly initiate Google Assistant at a moment's notice! It's unknown yet if this is something that can be customized to do something else, much like the HTC U11's interpretation. There are several other things that strengthen the core software experience here, like the new smart functions with Google Lens, which helps to eliminate some of the hassles we have using our phones – like copying and pasting email address from a message.

Processor and Memory


Much to everyone's delight, the Pixel 2 XL leverages the Snapdragon 835 CPU paired with a generous 4GB of RAM. This should be of no surprise, given that all high-end phones leverage the same hardware. In our brief time handling the phone, it exhibits all the smooth and buttery responses we crave in any high-end smartphone. Add to that, too, it manages to deliver a responsive VR experience without any hiccups to the frame rate. And finally, given that it's stock Android we're dealing with here, it's optimized to ensure that responsive consistency remains through the life cycle of the phone.

If there's another annoyance that's shared by many, it has to be that the Pixel 2 XL doesn’t offer any sort of storage expansion – so you're stuck with dealing with its internal capacities of either 64GB or 128GB. Yes, it's wonderful that Google Photos offers unlimited storage for images at "high-quality," but that's still no consolation for the fact that there's no room for expansion locally.

Camera


You'd think that the Pixel 2 XL would've been given a little more love in the camera department, but it actually is slapped with the same exact hardware found in the Pixel 2 – a single 12MP 1/2.6-inch sensor with an f/1.8 aperture, OIS, and dual-pixel autofocus. We didn't spend a whole lot of time taking snapshots, but Google assures that it'll continue to deliver the same stunning quality as last year's phone! If there's one complaint we have with the camera, is that it doesn't offer nearly the same manual controls seen in other phones, but then again, the intent here is to quickly take snapshots on the automatic.

We spent more time trying out its new portrait mode, which applies that bokeh effect to background elements when snapping a portrait shot. Unlike its rivals that leverage two camera sensors to achieve depth and this particular effect, the Pixel 2 XL does it by analyzing every pixel in the image to isolate the subject from the background. Essentially, this effect is achieved by the software – and we're impressed by how well it's able to do it. There might be a few seconds needed to process the image soon after it's captured, but the end result is pretty impressive given it's done via the software.

While the original Pixels were already renowned for their performance and quality in all sorts of shooting conditions, you can bet that the Google Pixel 2 XL will follow in accordance!

Google Pixel 2 XL hands-on

Battery


The overall footprint of the Pixel 2 XL has increased only by a little over its predecessor, so it's no surprise to find its battery to increase a little bit as well to a 3520 mAh capacity. We're confident that it should deliver respectable results when it comes to real-world results, but if there's one thing we're bummed about here is the lack of built-in wireless charging. This, along with the lack of a headphone jack, will be something that consumers will mull over, especially knowing that it's a reality with the Note 8 and V30.

Expectations


Pricing for the Google Pixel 2 XL starts at $850 for the base 64GB version, which places it in line to some of the other competitors in the space. Still, it's still pricey and most of the handset's marquee features are more software driven than anything else. That makes for a tougher justification to side with it over the competition! And when you factor in that it lacks a headphone jack and wireless charging, something that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and LG V30 offers, it doesn’t make it feel as much of a bargain.

And that's the thing, we know it's a good phone, but is it a better buy than some of those aforementioned phones?

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

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30 Comments

1. WhoHa123

Posts: 7; Member since: Dec 06, 2011

I was really waiting to see if there would be anything with the Pixel XL 2 that would pull me away from the LG V30... Now I have to make up my mind...Leaning towards the LG at this point for the money.

2. PhoneInQuestion

Posts: 496; Member since: Aug 20, 2017

V30 is all the smartphone you need so, go ahead.

8. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

I was waffling between the two myself, but between the larger size of the XL (almost as big as my 6P, which I've decided is too big) and lack of wireless charging... and that niggling little headphone jack... The only advantage of the XL for me is stock software straight from Google. Which is a big deal, but not enough to offset the hardware, which LG absolutely nailed in the V30.

14. sgodsell

Posts: 6703; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The Pixel 2's give you unlimited Google photos storage for 4 years. Plus right now you will get a free Google Home mini worth $50.

16. maverick786us

Posts: 157; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

When Google purchased pixel team of HTC, why they are still relying on 3rd party?

18. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

Because HTC sucks. I have no idea why Google bought their staff, it makes zero sense to me.

19. vincelongman

Posts: 5601; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Because that deal happened like a month ago Way too short to redesign and make new phones We won't see the benefits of that deal until the Pixel 3-4

22. ameran

Posts: 344; Member since: Dec 04, 2013

I don't believe you would get the same great software experience with V30. I ordered Pixel 2 XL yesterday, because there is no other device out there, that provides such artificial intelligence integration. Look isn't everything.

29. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

Looks aren't everything? Well, if something doesn't look good; then you have one less thing encouraging you to use it. When all phones were ugly, then basically I chose the least ugly to use on the daily. Now there are some good looking phones. I already own an ugly phone and a pretty phone. I use the ugly phone the least because looking at it, discourages me from using it. I feel good holding my pretty phone, even if I'm not using it for anything because it just looks so stunning. I don't like LG's phone sin general. But I can say the V30 looks really sharp and is a "pretty" phone vs the Pixel 2/XL.

26. Cat97

Posts: 1709; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Just look at the ugly Pixel XL 2 side by side with the beautiful LG V30, and you can see how (despite having the same screen) phone design can easily be botched if not careful with the curves, radiuses and proportions.

3. youssef44

Posts: 547; Member since: Apr 29, 2014

the design is so bad !!!

6. Subie

Posts: 2269; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

What's so bad about it, if I might ask? You pretty much posted the same thing about the smaller Pixel 2 in the last article as well.

11. phonefanboy

Posts: 44; Member since: Oct 06, 2011

The XL doesn't look that bad at all. Don't mind the bezel, as long as it has front facing speakers

28. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

For starters, the design looks like plastic. Next it's looks thick line the old Lumia's. The design is just ugly overall. But looks are subjective. If you think it looks good, then so be it. No pint in arguing subjective opinions. The V30 looks like a flattened S8 and looks far and away better.

30. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

like the old Lumia's* no point in arguing....*

4. egainer

Posts: 11; Member since: Mar 21, 2014

Did you know it doesn't have wireless charging and a headphone jack?? .... Why are those complaints repeated over and over? They have usb-c headphones that they claim provide better sounds anyway. Complaints with lack of camera hardware upgrades (it does have a better sensor, but could have more) are justified, but we'll see how it is as time passes. Nothing about this phone blows me away, especially because almost all of the new software parts will eventually be available on other Android phones in the future. But it seems like an overall great phone

5. PilzXDA

Posts: 28; Member since: Oct 01, 2016

You do realize dual cameras are rather pointless. Google's camera has always been the best since their Pixel last year. My S8+, while great, lacks the picture quality of the older Pixel. Now that Google has the same fast focusing as the S8/Note 8 it'll blow away the rest in all areas. The phone looks nice in it's panda color scheme. While not perfect who doesn't love FF speakers. I'll agree about the lacm of wireless charging, no 3.5mm jack isn't a huge concern. I own many high end sets of BT headphones so it doesn't matter as much.

7. egainer

Posts: 11; Member since: Mar 21, 2014

I don't care about dual cameras, but why not have a 2x optical zoom?

20. vincelongman

Posts: 5601; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Phones have prime lens due to space limitations So you need another camera module with a telephoto lens for optical zoom

9. Derekjeter

Posts: 1447; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

Why the f**k are you guys complaining about the camera??? It’s a phone camera, it’s good enough. This is hands down Android King!!! Nothing better out right now. If LG V30 didn’t have that horrible UI, it would be as good as this Pixel Xl 2. Can’t wait.

10. egainer

Posts: 11; Member since: Mar 21, 2014

My phone camera is my only camera. And I care about the photo quality. Complaint wasn't with the camera, but the lack of new hardware. It has great ratings, and I don't even care about the selfie portrait mode. But zoom is something I wouldn't mind, even 2x would bring it back to what your eyes see without a lens

13. combatmedic870

Posts: 982; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

It has the best camera ever tested according to dxo. So no need to worry.

12. fyah_king unregistered

This should get a 9.5 in your review, I phonearena.

15. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

I would take this over the V30 just for the stock Android and the fps not being a button. The button aspect of a back fps on the G6 bothers me for some reason. Even more than the bixby button.

17. Whitedot

Posts: 692; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

Desperate? Envy? "You'd think that the Pixel 2 XL would've been given a little more love in the camera department" You are seriously forgetting P2 has the best camera out there. Point and shoot. Simple as that. I am desperate you get better soon and make it back to the relevant world.

21. tahasmarty01

Posts: 7; Member since: Oct 05, 2017

I personally don't like the pixel's (the regular size) extra large bezels!!!!

23. KingSam

Posts: 1338; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

Phones take time to develop. Maybe next year that will change.

24. beeitu

Posts: 12; Member since: Jan 18, 2016

The camera of Pixel 2 is very good but the absence of dual-camera in rear or front and headphone jack could be a setback for Google. A non-dual-camera smartphone price tagged with $849 onwards may fail to lure prospective buyers. Arch rivals Apple and Samsung are offering a dual camera smartphone with a marginal price difference of $150 and $70, respectively.

25. p51d007

Posts: 697; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

Surprised there haven't been more "but it doesn't have a dual lens camera".... Doesn't need one. That little "feature" is pretty much a gimmick on these pinhole cameras. Not only that, the SINGLE lens camera system on the Pixel beat out the Samsung/iPhone dual camera on the DxMo score card (if you are into benchmarks as a gauge of quality). As with anything else, consumers are pretty "challenged" (the PC term for STUPID) when it comes to new things. Typically, they buy on what's new, what's hip, what's trendy, what's MORE than the other guy. If it has two of something, and others have one of something, more has to be better. A pinhole camera, is a pinhole camera. There is only so much you can get out of one, before you have to increase the physical size of the image sensor. Other than the price being too high, it looks to be a very good smartphone.

27. Mr.mobile

Posts: 130; Member since: Mar 09, 2017

Not let see what will battery life compare to pixel Xl 2 vs 8 plus vs Note 8 Vs LG v30 vs Samsung S8+ Vs Mate 10 Vs one plus 5 Vs iphone X If Huawei uses amoled screen on mate 10 with these upcoming kirin 970 with 10nm procceser with 4000mah battery these will be king of flashship battery life

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