The Google Pixel 2 XL is great software, bad design

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
The Google Pixel 2 XL is great software, bad design
The Google Pixel 2 XL could have been the best Android phone out there. It could have been the best phone, full stop.

But it is not.

There are a few things that put the Google Pixel series of phones on the radar of everyone looking for a great Android phone and they are all about the software.

The good

First, the Pixel not only runs a clean version of Android that is not riddled with countless useless gimmicks, it is - most importantly - brilliantly optimized to run smoothly, a sore point for even more expensive Android devices such as the Galaxy S8 that stutters much more than you’d expect of a premium phone.

Secondly, the Pixel gets software updates. It’s a phone that will last (Google promises to update it for 3 years, an eternity in Android terms). And unless you jump to a new phone every year or so this matters. The Pixel is guaranteed to not only get software updates on day 1 (while other Android phones take close to half a year to get an update), but it is guaranteed to get Google’s precious attention and get critical bugs fixed quickly.

Thirdly, the Google Pixel series have - hands down - the best camera for night time photos on a phone, and one of the best for daylight picture and videos.

Add solid battery life to the equation and you would think that Google has finally figured out how to make great phones.

After using the Google Pixel 2 XL for a while, though, I am more convinced than ever that Google spoilt an outstanding software effort with a truly underwhelming design.

The bad

The Pixel 2 XL is often said to be a “bezel-less” phone. It is most certainly not. The phone actually has bigger side bezels than most flagship phones of the past few years and the top and bottom bezels still exist.

This is something that you can see in pictures and something that sticks like a sore thumb when you actually start using the phone.

The Pixel 2 XL is also bulky in a cumbersome way. It lacks any ergonomical features: while other big phones like the OnePlus 5T have a very pronounced curve with a reasonable thickness, the 2 XL has almost none of that and is extremely hard to handle with a single hand.

While the industry has moved to sleek glass designs and has perfected various aluminum finishes, the Pixel 2 XL features a surprisingly coarse back that almost feels unfinished. Yes, it is solid, cold metal, but it does not feel premium as you’d expect for a device with a hefty price like the Pixel.

Final Words

Yes, you could get used to using the Pixel 2 XL despite all of its design flaws. But whenever you use another phone - the Samsung Galaxy S or Note series, the LG V30, the iPhone X, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro or the Essential Phone for instance - you will immediately notice the difference in design and build quality.

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And while many people rightfully criticize the Pixel 2 XL display for burn-in issues and for that blue tint you get when you tilt the phone, the underwhelming design of the phone seems like an even bigger show-stopper for what could have been the best Android phone ever made.

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