Introduction


For all the flak both Apple and Google get for “copying” one another, it's genuinely interesting to watch how their very different paths through the smartphone landscape have converged time and time again. On the hardware front, we've watched Apple grow from a one-size-fits-all, take-it-or-leave-it approach to handsets to this year's lineup, with not just the greatest number of phones ever, but also a couple distinctly different designs.

Google, meanwhile, has evolved from selling hardware with a real enthusiasts-focused kick to come out with some eminently commercial handsets, with a very Apple-like level of polish and it-just-works user-friendliness.

Last year really made that transition for Google undeniably apparent, as the long-standing Nexus line gave way to the new Pixel phones. While that new direction for Google's phone hardware was largely successful, giving us, among other things, one of the best smartphone cameras we used all year, it also wasn't without a few hiccups, and Google spent some time patching a variety of early glitches.

Now the Pixel phones are back, and Google's switching things up again. We've still got one Pixel and one jumbo-sized XL model, and while these two share a lot of common hardware, we're also getting a bit of an iPhone 8/iPhone X split, as the HTC-made Pixel 2 with its traditionally-shaped 5.0-inch display goes up against the LG-built Pixel 2 XL and its curved-cornered, super-widescreen 18:9 6.0-inch screen.

With different manufacturers helping Google create this hardware, and fundamentally different screens on these two options, does this year's Pixel lineup lose some of its unity? How do Google-designed phones compare to the rest of 2017's very, very competitive lineup? And can we still look forward to some of that best-in-class camera performance?

We've been spending the last couple days with both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL in the hopes of answering just those questions.

In the box:

  • Google Pixel 2 / Pixel 2 XL
  • USB Type-C to standard A adapter
  • USB Type-C cable
  • USB Type-C charger
  • USB Type-C headphone adapter
  • SIM tool
  • Get-started booklet
  • Reference guide


Design

Google's one-of-a-kind Pixel look gets a really well-done update – with a new phone shape, to boot


The original Pixel gave us one of last year's most unusual looks for a smartphone, thanks to the presence of its two-tone back: glass up top, surrounding the main camera and rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, and metal down below, which smoothly flowed across the rest of the rear plate and over onto the phone's edges.

For round two, Google's back with another trip down the same road, but one where the scenery’s now just a bit different. While Google's once again using a combination of different materials, the top glass is far less pronounced, and now only lives in a narrowed band encompassing the phone's camera hardware.

The phones are still built with an aluminum body, but instead of feeling the metal directly, this time it's topped by what Google's calling a “hybrid coating.” It looks a bit like plastic, and feels almost ceramic, and while it's unusual to the point it caused us to do a double-take when first going hands-on with the hardware, we quickly came around to it. The rough matte finish feels all kinds of durable, and contrasts really nicely against the glossy glass above.

The top edge of both Pixel 2 phones is mostly bare, save for a tiny microphone hole. On the left side we have the SIM tray (if you're not doing the whole Project Fi embedded-SIM deal), and down below there's another mic and the USB Type-C port. On the right we find both the power button and volume rocker, though in an unusual power-on-top configuration (which caused us more than a few errant button presses). Notably absent is an analog headphone jack, either in a tip-of-the-hat to Apple's influence or HTC's involvement.

That's a controversial move, and one we'll talk about more in just a bit, but the port's absence does make one thing a little easier: waterproofing. Even still, the phones only score an IP67 rating, rather than the slightly more robust IP68 enjoyed by a growing segment of popular handsets.

Both Pixel 2 phones share that same basic construction, but we don't have to look far for differences to start cropping up. Understandably, the Pixel 2's got much larger top and bottom bezels than the Pixel 2 XL, as its standard 16:9 screen doesn't quite fill the phone's face. But no matter which model you choose, you get to enjoy the presence of stereo front-facing speakers; just on the Pixel 2, they're a little more offset from the handset's edge, while the 2 XL pushes them out to the periphery.

There's also noticeable difference in cross-section here. While both models are of comparable thickness, the Pixel 2 XL uses curved-edge glass on the front, and with matching curves around back, the handset's edge is much narrower than on the Pixel 2. Combined with the decreased width of the smaller phone, that makes the Pixel 2 substantially more comfortable to hold than the XL. There's also a bit of a “lip” around the XL's screen, preventing it from smoothly flowing into the edge. We imagine that's for protective purposes (or maybe for Active Edge), but it doesn't quite feel super-premium.

Finally, it may be the most minor of differences, but the Google “G” on the back of the XL is shiny and reflective, while the G on the smaller Pixel 2 is barely noticeable and made of the same material as the rest of the back panel.

Google Pixel 2

Google Pixel 2

Dimensions

5.74 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches

145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Google Pixel

Google Pixel

Dimensions

5.66 x 2.74 x 0.34 inches

143.84 x 69.54 x 8.58 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8

Dimensions

5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31 inches

148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Apple iPhone 8

Apple iPhone 8

Dimensions

5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches

138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.22 oz (148 g)

Google Pixel 2

Google Pixel 2

Dimensions

5.74 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches

145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Google Pixel

Google Pixel

Dimensions

5.66 x 2.74 x 0.34 inches

143.84 x 69.54 x 8.58 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8

Dimensions

5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31 inches

148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Apple iPhone 8

Apple iPhone 8

Dimensions

5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches

138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.22 oz (148 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page

Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 XL

Dimensions

6.22 x 3.02 x 0.31 inches

157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm

Weight

6.17 oz (175 g)

Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

Dimensions

6.09 x 2.98 x 0.34 inches

154.72 x 75.74 x 8.6 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

Samsung Galaxy S8+

Samsung Galaxy S8+

Dimensions

6.28 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches

159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm

Weight

6.10 oz (173 g)

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Dimensions

6.24 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches

158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5 mm

Weight

7.13 oz (202 g)

Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 XL

Dimensions

6.22 x 3.02 x 0.31 inches

157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm

Weight

6.17 oz (175 g)

Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

Dimensions

6.09 x 2.98 x 0.34 inches

154.72 x 75.74 x 8.6 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

Samsung Galaxy S8+

Samsung Galaxy S8+

Dimensions

6.28 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches

159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm

Weight

6.10 oz (173 g)

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Dimensions

6.24 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches

158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5 mm

Weight

7.13 oz (202 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



Display

Google gives shoppers a welcome choice between standard or super-widescreen displays – with little compromise


While there are a number of little differences between the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, none are more pronounced than the screens on these handsets. The Pixel 2 aims to recapture the spirit of the first-gen Pixel with the same sort of 5.0-inch, 1080 x 1920 AMOLED panel. Rather than just giving us a bigger version of the same thing, the Pixel 2 XL embraces the new look of extra-widescreen smartphones with a 6.0-inch 1440 x 2880 pOLED display. And if you had any doubts that LG was making this phone, look no further than the screen's curved corners – the display here is a near spitting image of the screen on the LG V30.

Compared to the V30, though, the Pixel 2 XL is a bigger smartphone, with not-quite-so-thin bezels. Part of the narrative of these super-wide screens has been that they attempt to fill as much of the phone's face as possible, so Google's implementation here feels a little like a half-effort. Yes, the very wide display is present, but the rest of the hardware isn't really taking full advantage of it. That same sentiment pops up again when we look at the phone's camera, which lacks 18:9 shooting modes for filming natively screen-filling content.

Going 18:9 is probably a step Google felt like it had to take, but compared to other ultra-widescreen phones we've gotten to know so far this year, the Pixel 2 XL doesn't seem as much like a fully-realized idea for how these kind of phones can improve over traditional designs.

Looking at the capabilities of these screens, both are able to produce the sort of bold, colorful content we expect from OLED screens, while thankfully also having an option to toggle “vibrant colors” off for a look that's a little more natural. In that standard mode, color accuracy is decent on both screens, and while nothing is really spot-on perfect (with reds in particular looking a little drab), it's a generally close, solid showing overall.

One really sore point, though, is screen brightness, and neither the Pixel 2 nor Pixel 2 XL have particularly bright displays. Of the two, the XL's capable of higher-intensity output, but the majority of phones we test still manage to do better than these. Sometimes a phone will save its brightest output for auto mode, but that doesn't seem to be the case with the Pixel 2 phones, and auto-brightness didn't step up to save either.



FEATURED VIDEO

105 Comments

3. Felix_Gatto

Posts: 942; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

"3.5mm headphone jack satisfyingly not new" anyone remember that quote?

8. PhoneInQuestion

Posts: 496; Member since: Aug 20, 2017

I also remember Ray S. calling anyone who wanted a headphone jack "Selfish and Backwards".

28. vincelongman

Posts: 5677; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

He also hasn't mentioned Google's surprise The Pixel 2s also have a secondary SoC called the Pixel Visual Core It's custom designed by Google for image processing Android 8.1 will feature an API for third party apps to use HDR+ This is huge for users of Snapchat or Instagram stories! https://androidcentral.com/pixel-2-has-custom-chipset-meet-pixel-visual-core

62. Sparkxster

Posts: 1213; Member since: Mar 31, 2017

I also heard the pixel visual core can be used for a.i processing.

95. sgodsell

Posts: 7187; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

I can't believe that PhoneArena gave the iPhone 8 a score of 9.2 compared to the Pixel 2 score of 9. Which the Pixel 2 is superior compared to the iPhone 8. The Pixel 2 has a higher resolution full HD AMOLED display compared to the iPhone 8's lower resolution LCD display. The Pixel 2 has better cameras both front and back, and both cameras support portrait mode. The iPhone 8 cannot do that with its 2 cameras. Pixel 2 has front facing stereo speakers, and quick charging out of the box. PhoneArena stop being so biased.

103. KFear

Posts: 170; Member since: Feb 06, 2012

They aren't biased. These guys handle soooo many phones and have a lot of respect for lots of different types of software features and designs. A reviewer does not compare two phones side by side, just as a film reviewer doesn't as well. A phone leaves an impression based on soooo many different aspects. Those "feelings" are translated into a score. It's easy to bash, but until you have reviewed many phones yourself, i'd hold the finger pointing back a bit.

106. JohnR

Posts: 148; Member since: Sep 08, 2017

iPhone 8 doesn't have two cameras. Try again.

51. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

"Respectable flagship-class performance can't quite distract from the lack of storage expansion" I wonder if lines like that fill iPhone reviews?

79. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

You don't say! The iPhone has also never offered storage expansion like Google handsets, yet you won't see this same remark : "Respectable flagship-classe performance can't quite distractfrom the lack of storage expansion"... for obvious reasons!

84. Leo_MC

Posts: 7190; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

But it create a file system that made the files take up less space, it has an app system that frees space, it offers a format that takes up half of what image/video take up on Android etc. That's why 64 GB on iOS is "more" than 64 GB on Android.

96. sgodsell

Posts: 7187; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

A number of Android devices and apps support VP9 now, which has the roughly the same compression for video as Apples proprietary HEVC which is used on iOS 11. So not true.

98. Leo_MC

Posts: 7190; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Good for them. How about the other two things Apple did with iOS storage features?

25. applesnapple93

Posts: 302; Member since: Jan 06, 2016

PHONE ARENA GOT THE SPEAKERS WRONG. On the Pixel 2 (regular) the top speaker and the bottom speaker ARE NOT EQUAL. the bottom speaker is fuller with better bass and much louder. the top speaker is extremely sharp with high treble. It sounds like the speaker mod from the Nexus 5X. Pixel 2 XL speakers are much louder and much more full. Pixel 2 speakers may appear louder because theyre piercing your ears with high treble. Go to a Verizon store and try them yourself. Phone arena got this part seriously wrong.

29. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

I had the same impression at the Verizon store. I thought the Pixel 2 XL speakers sounded fuller and really impressed me, whereas the Pixel 2 sounded tinny and thin.

7. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

No headphone jack = no buy I don't care if it cures cancer or can recognize my farts as Ed Sheeran song

31. TechGirl90 unregistered

LMAO!! XD

9. bucknassty

Posts: 1325; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

Wait... why review both at the same time????

37. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1354; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

I ask the same question why? Dint the i8 and i8 plus get separate reviews? why not be consistent across the board PA?

52. bucky

Posts: 3776; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

i know what you are saying here but these two are literally identical apart from battery size and screen size.

71. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

Screens are completely different and next to the software and maybe the SOC, the display is like only the second or 3rd most important category of a smart phone. You isheep are worse than I thought. Lol

91. bucky

Posts: 3776; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Again, screen and battery size are the only things different... You need a job...

97. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

Again, you are acting like you can brush of display differences with only screen is different. That's like they look the same except for face. lol That's itarded. The design is completely different too btw. You know one is curvy and one is boxy. completely different ergonomics. Still, that doesn't even need to be mentioned. Display difference is MORE than enough not to lump them together.

11. Balazs.K

Posts: 10; Member since: Jan 16, 2017

Great smartphones with the powerful SoC and Pure Android! But How many times could somebody read between the Cons that "Come back, headphone jack!" in terms of an iPhone?!

12. antmiu2

Posts: 550; Member since: Jun 19, 2011

18:9 screen has been done better on other phones ????? really thats a con???

13. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3097; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Good all around solid phones with no compromises except for the headphone jack. Good job HTC and LG.

16. josephnero

Posts: 778; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

And lack of SD card

26. bucknassty

Posts: 1325; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

lack of sd card has been long in nexus phones... you know people put cheap sd cards in their phones and then complain about them being slow... that is why... chill out with the no sd card

30. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

Kudos should go to Google who actually designed and spec'd the phones. LG and HTC only get credit for execution and build quality.

17. dimas

Posts: 3341; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

I don't use front cameras but those selfie shots are dope! Google, I know you offer unlimited drive storage but I still want a 256gb, 512gb or 1tb internal storage for pixel 2 xl. You make those storage big and I'll buy it overseas no questions asked.

18. pixel_ftw

Posts: 83; Member since: Jun 19, 2017

Awesome. Only complain is the display on 2 xl is not great.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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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