Google Pixel 2 XL Smartphone Preview
First impressions. The Pixel 2 XL is visually a high-end smartphone of the year 2017 and has a POLED display in the 2:1 format. Visually, the relation to the LG V30 cannot be denied, but it took a different path in terms of the camera. In addition, there is quite a lot of battery power.
For the original German review, see here.
The Google Pixel 2 XL is visually very different than its smaller sibling and has a 6-inch (15.24 cm) POLED display in the 2:1 format with QHD+ resolution. Added to this are more storage in the base model, a new camera, and a fast Snapdragon 835. With ac-WLAN and LTE Cat. 15, the communication modules are also up-to-date. As in the previous year, Google continues to refrain from including any microSD card storage extension. The two front speakers, which are supposed to provide a better audio experience in landscape mode, are new. The 64-GB version of the Pixel 2 XL starts at 939 Euros (~$1117; $849 in the US). Anyone who prefers to have more storage has to pay a hefty 110 Euros (~$131) to double it. As with the predecessor, you can store any pictures and videos recorded with the Pixel in full resolution on Google Drive, but this is now only for a limited period of time. The only differences to the smaller Pixel 2 are really the display and battery, the basic technical equipment is the same.
Google's XL high-end smartphone has to face the gathered competition, which include the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Huawei P10 Plus, Apple iPhone 8 Plus, LG V30, Sony Xperia XZ Premium, HTC U11, and the OnePlus 5 among others.
During the launch event in Berlin, we were able to take a first look at the new models. We will perform a complete test as soon as possible.
Secondary Camera: 8 MPix (Fixfocus, 1,4 μm, f/2.4, 1080p video, EIS)
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Similar to most other high-end competitors of the year 2017, the Google Pixel 2 XL also has particularly small bezels. The visual relation to the LG V30 cannot be denied. The case is made from an aluminum alloy, and only part of the back is covered by glass. The front is completely protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
The workmanship of the Google Pixel 2 XL is on a high level. It shows itself very robust and cannot be twisted, and due to the OLED technology, pressure on the panel cannot lead to any wave forming. The gaps are very tight and exact. The aluminum feels good in the hands. The display-to-surface ratio is very good, even though the bezels are even smaller in the Galaxy Note 8.
The SIM slot is flush with the case and can accept a Nano-SIM card. Furthermore, the smartphone is protected against dust and water according to the IP67 standard, which means that it can be submersed in water up to 1.5 meters deep for up to half an hour without getting damaged. Accordingly, the battery is built-in and cannot be changed by the user.
The Google Pixel 2 comes in completely black color and black and white. In the latter version, the power button is orange. We already know such color accents from the Huawei P10 Plus, and while it is a matter of taste, we really like it.
As a cable connection, the Google Pixel 2 XL has USB 3.1 (Gen. 1, Type-C). NFC and Bluetooth 5.0 are also on board. The latter also supports aptX and aptX HD for high-resolution music content.
Moreover, it is again possible to store all the pictures and videos in full resolution on Google Drive for free. There is no storage limitation for this until January 15, 2021. Beyond that, the offer is limited to high-quality pictures. According to Google, this is supposed to make the storage expansion via microSD card unnecessary, so there is no built-in slot.
There is also no infrared transmitter, no radio, and no ability to wirelessly charge the smartphone.
The Google Pixel 2 XL is delivered with pure Android 8.0 Oreo and is supposed to get software and security updates until October 2020.
The smartphone also has the new Google Lens already, which is initially limited to the Pixel 2 models and then later will also be made available to other devices. With Lens, recorded pictures can be analyzed by Google, and in this way buildings, landscapes, artwork, books, and CD covers can be recognized and then Google can provide the corresponding information via Google Assistant. In addition, it can simply take mail addresses or phone numbers from a flyer.
In addition, the Pixel smartphone always listens in and shows the artist and title on the always-on display, when music is recognized. This function can be optionally deactivated. In general, Google Assistant is supposed to be integrated more into the world of the user and can also be started with a simple press of the smartphone, similar to how you can already do in the HTC U11.
The camera equipment of the two Pixel models is identical. In front is an 8 MP camera which is equipped with a fixed focus and an electronic image stabilizer. The listed aperture of f/2.4 is quite typical for these cameras, promising a good light sensitivity with its 1.4 μm pixel size, which was confirmed during the event. Fortunately, the portrait mode that turns the background into a soft Bokeh is also available for selfies.
Google calls the main camera on the back the best camera in a smartphone. It offers 12.2 MP, a f/1.8 aperture, and 1.4-μm-sized pixels. In addition to the laser auto-focus, there is also a dual-pixel phase recognition, which not only offers faster focusing, but in coordination with Google's special machine-learning algorithm, allows the portrait mode to work without a second camera.
The quality and especially speed of the recordings is very good in our initial impression. Even in the subdued lighting of the event, the pictures were very sharp, and the delay taking pictures was very short. The Bokeh in portrait mode is good, but could have been slightly blurrier. It is also unfortunate, that Google only allows taking videos in Ultra HD with 30 frames per second. On the other hand, there is both optical and electronic image stabilization, which is supposed to assure the necessary stability of the image, particularly when driving with the camera.
In the Google Pixel 2 XL, a 6-inch (15.24 cm) POLED display from LG is used. It has a 2:1 (18:9) format and with 2880x1440 pixels, it offers an even higher pixel density than the smaller Pixel 2 model. The color space coverage is also supposed to be slightly larger, completely covering DCI-P3. Compared to the Pixel XL (16:9, 83,39 cm²), the panel area is noticeably larger, reaching 92.9 cm².
The first impression was convincing. In steep viewing angles we did not notice any color veils and the colors did not appear too saturated. As expected, the contrast ratio was excellent. However, this display will also use pulse width modulation (PWM).
The polarized glass will be an advantage for using it outside, since it promises a very low degree of reflections. In the LG V30, which uses the same display type, we criticized the too frugal regulation of the brightness by the brightness sensor. We are curious whether Google does a better job.
In the Google Pixel 2 XL, the current high-end SoC from Qualcomm is used: the Snapdragon 835. It is accompanied by 4 GB of LPDDR4x RAM memory. The smartphone is available with 64 or 128 GB of internal storage. The graphics calculations are performed by the Qualcomm Adreno 540.
Unfortunately we are unable to offer you benchmarks at this point, but the performance will be similar to other smartphones with these processors. The comparison of the system performance will be exciting. Subjectively Android 8.0 Oreo runs very smoothly.
Compared to the predecessor (3450 mAh), the battery has become slightly stronger and now offers 3520 mAh. In coordination with the more efficient processor, at least similar runtimes should be possible, even though the panel is larger.
The quick-charge technology was improved, and after only 15 minutes of charging, 7 hours of use are supposed to be possible. Our extensive test will show, what this really means in practice. Unfortunately it is not possible to charge the smartphone wirelessly.
Google has not become tired of saying that the best combination of hardware, software, and artificial intelligence lies in the new smartphones. Indeed, the Google Pixel 2 XL leaves a very positive impression, especially the camera knows to please, and the new Google Lens feature also works well already.
In contrast to the smaller Pixel 2, in the Pixel 2 XL Google bets on modern visuals with small bezels and an 18:9 display. Otherwise in terms of technology, there is no difference between the two devices, and they both offer strong features at the current high-end level. Only friends of wireless charging will be disappointed.
The comparatively high introductory price is a bit off-putting. The Pixel 2 XL can be purchased from 939 Euros (~$1117), and the 128-GB version costs 1049 Euros (~$1248). This is about 40 Euros more than previous year's model. For that price, we would have liked to see 256 GB, and the unlimited cloud storage does not console us much here. Those who pre-order also receive a free Google Home Mini.