Exactly one year ago, Google shook up their annual smartphone event in two ways: They eliminated the Nexus line of smartphones, but introduced a new premium brand in its place, the Pixel. Although it’s only been a year since the Pixel and Pixel XL were introduced, the brand is already widely recognized – more than Nexus ever was. Today, Google took the wraps off the second-generation Pixel devices, now officially known as Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.
Unlike last year, however, the two Pixels differ more than just in size; this year, the two devices have different bezel sizes as well, which may have something to do with the contracted manufacturers behind the devices. Although Google designs, develops, and markets the devices, they are still manufactured by other brands. Last year, both the Pixel and Pixel XL were manufactured by HTC. This year, the Pixel 2 is also manufactured by HTC, but the Pixel 2 XL is manufactured by LG. Google said in the past that the Pixel’s design wasn’t based on any existing HTC device, but the differences between this year’s Pixel duo make it seem as if the contracted manufacturers may have had something to do with things.
As pictured above, the Pixel 2 stuck with the same large bezels seen in last year’s Pixel. The device also has the same 5-inch AMOLED FHD display. The Pixel 2 XL, on the other hand, has much slimmer bezels and sports a 6-inch pOLED QHD+ display, up from the 5.5-inch display the Pixel XL had last year. Both devices still exhibit design elements from last year’s Pixels, such as the metal design with a small glass panel on the back (although the glass panel is smaller this time around). Both devices also have fingerprint sensors on the back. Curiously, some Pixels, depending on their color, appear to have brightly-colored power buttons.
When it comes to similarities, the devices feature:
The only other major difference spec-wise is the battery size. The Pixel 2 features a 2700mAh battery, while the Pixel 2 XL features a larger 3520mAh battery.
The Pixel will officially begin shipping on October 17th, with pre-orders beginning today and pricing starts at $649. The Pixel 2 XL will ship in 5-6 weeks, with pre-orders beginning today and pricing starts at $869. For a limited time, a free Google Home Mini will be included with the purchase of either device.
It’s worth noting that both devices do not feature a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is an interesting choice considering Google actively campaigned in favor of the feature last year to combat Apple’s decision to remove it for the first time in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. While Apple didn’t seem to encounter much backlash regarding sales of the iPhone 7, Google’s Pixel line not only has a much smaller following, but is also just one Android device in a sea of many, many others. It is quite possible that this decision may result in a harsher response from consumers.
Google takes the Pixel’s already famous camera quality to the next level with the Pixel 2. Last year, the Google Pixel was awarded a DXO score of 89; this year, the Pixel 2 has been awarded a score of 98, the highest score awarded to any smartphone yet. The Pixel 2 brings with it a ton of new features, including a portrait mode and the ability to take photos by squeezing the device (similar to HTC’s flagships this year). Google continues to grant Pixel users unlimited photo storage in Google Photos with the highest quality.
This year's Pixel also introduces a new Always on Display, and the device also has the ability to know and display what song is playing, which will help for those moments when you frantically open Google and type in the lyrics to give you the information you need.
It is nice to see that Google picked up on the slim bezel trend that has taken the smartphone industry by storm this year for the Pixel 2 XL. The decision not to do the same for the smaller Pixel 2 may be a grief point for some, but at least the price tag is mild in comparison.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL? Will you be making one of these devices your new daily driver, or were you hoping for something more/different?