Google Pixel 2 And Pixel 2 XL Review: Perfecting Android

Google Pixel 2 And Pixel 2 XL Design And Build Quality

Though the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are both designed and "Made By Google" devices, they're built by different devices makers, with HTC manufacturing the Pixel 2 and LG the Pixel 2 XL. As such, there are subtle design differences that offer a hat tip to their respective lineage and birth place. 

Google Pixel 2 Phones Back Bottom
Google Pixel 2 Phones Back Top

The Pixel 2 XL has highly polished, smooth edges, while the smaller Pixel 2 has sharper, slightly beveled edges that are typical of HTC devices. The Pixel 2 XL also houses its 6-inch pOLED display in much thinner top and bottom bezels, similar to LG's G6, as well as the new V30 that we're evaluating now. Both devices, however, also share a lot of similarities. The glass framing around the rear camera area is again a signature Google Pixel styling and it looks great, while thankfully being the only part of the rear casing that attracts fingerprints with its high gloss surface. The rest of the rear cases is a matte, soft-touch finished aluminum that both feels and looks premium. 

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 Xl Displays

The other commonality between these two devices are there dual front-facing speakers, which happen to be the best set of smartphone speakers we've ever laid ears on. Set expectations accordingly of course, these are smartphone-sized drivers we're talking about, but they have much better spatialization characteristics and midrange response than the average phone audio setup. Low end is noticeably absent, as expected, but in general volume and sound quality are rather impressive, for a handset. 

Google Pixel 2 With Dongle
Pixel 2  Phones Side Edge View

However, noticeably absent from both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are analog 3.5mm headphone jacks. This is possibly a non-issue for you, depending on how dongle-averse you are. At this point, we could get used to it, but it still feels a little awkward. Part of the motivation to eliminate the trusty ol' 3.5mm is becuase both Pixel 2s are now IP67 water and dust resistant. The need to isolate and protect one less hole in the chassis makes the design challenge a little less strenuous, and likely lowers cost too. But hey, if Samsung can pull it off with IP68 compliance, the great and powerful Google should be able to as well, right? Alas, most things in technology are simple design trade-off decisions.

One aspect Google didn't skimp on is the display. Both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have high quality OLED panels that are up to the task of rendering high contrast, punchy image quality, even in broad daylight. 

Pixel 2 XL In Hand Outside
Google Pixel 2 XL

Pixel 2 In Hand Outside
Google Pixel 2
Pixel 2 Displays Side By Side
Google Pixel 2 (Left) - Google Pixel 2 XL (Right)

That said, the Pixel 2 and its XL-sized big brother do not share the same OLED display technology, as we noted earlier. The 6-inch pOLED display in the larger Pixel 2 XL is based on LG technology that has a cooler color setup than the warmer display in the Pixel 2, which is standard AMOLED. There has been a fuss made about the color uniformity of LG's pOLED displays in the new LG V30 and there-in by association the Pixel 2 XL. I'm here to tell you that I think those claims are over-blown. In very low light settings and with low display brightness, we were able to observe slight inconsistencies in uniformity, but the use-case to observe this alleged defect is marginal. Regardless, from what we've seen, the Pixel 2's display offers great brightness, saturation, contrast and viewing angles, with excellent visibility in sunlight conditions. The Pixel 2 XL is similar in this regard, with a larger display offering dramatically more screen real estate obviously, and with just a slightly cooler setup and maybe ever so slightly less forgiving viewing angles. Comparatively, the Pixel 2 XL holds up well versus other large format, AMOLED-based devices like the Samsung Galaxy S8+, though in a side-by-side A/B test you might prefer one over there other. In our view, however, the Pixel 2 XL and its little brother, offer excellent image quality overall.

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