The Google Pixel 2 XL doesn’t come packaged in some overly simplistic box where you can hardly tell what’s inside. It comes in a box that I would describe as playful and cheerful. There’s some Google and Pixel branding with a side and rear image of the device. The back is just solid blue with nothing but #teampixel up top and Google down below.
Inside the box, we’ll find the Pixel 2 XL sitting right on top. Directly underneath, we have a female USB to male USB-C adapter that will let you transfer your data over seamlessly from your older device. I actually used this adapter to transfer my files from my iPhone 8 Plus and it worked flawlessly.
There’s a USB-C cable and USB-C fast charging wall wart here as well. There’s also a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter because the Pixel 2 doesn’t have a headphone jack built into the device. Google made a big deal about having a headphone jack with the original Pixel but it didn’t make the cut this year.
There is a panda color configuration that is selling like hotcakes but I went with the black model and I’m glad I did. I think it looks really clean and I like the signature glass top portion of the device that kind of contrasts the slightly lighter black aluminum rear panel.
The phone is composed of primarily aluminum and while it feels cool to the touch and premium, you will notice a slight plastic texture to it. Google has actually coated the aluminum with a soft touch coating that makes it slightly less slippery it also kind of feels like plastic. There’s also now an IP67 water and dust resistance rating so you can submerge this phone in up to 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes if you so desire.
Up front, we have a 6-inch QHD P-OLED display with very thin bezels. They’re similar to the LG G6 but not quite as thin as the S8 or Galaxy Note 8. Still, they’re much thinner than last year’s Pixel XL and they look much better and more futuristic and in line with 2017’s flagship smartphones. The display is flanked by two front-facing stereo speakers that get very loud and sound pretty darn sharp in detail for a phone speaker but best of all, they face directly towards your face. They don’t face away from you or down towards your waist.
While Google has improved the hardware over last year’s model, it still doesn’t quite match the beauty that is the software; at least in my opinion. The Pixel 2 is running Android Oreo out of the box. It’s running it exactly how Google intends. There’s no bloatware or obtrusive skin. We’ll see the Google search bar rest underneath your five main apps at the bottom and there’s a new widget up top that displays the date and weather information. Furthermore, we have new live wallpapers that look incredible. There are many to choose from and they all look pretty nice but I do like this stock wallpaper they have here. Google Now is a swipe to the right and all of your apps can be swiped up from anywhere on the home screen. Of course, this is just a first look video. I’ve barely spent any time with this device but if you’d like to see a video highlighting Android Oreo’s main features, click here.
The animations and overall performance is really one of a kind. Everything just works and the Google apps seem to work especially well. I’m a big Google fan I have pretty much all my services through Google so I really do find the appeal with Google’s Pixel smartphones. There is a Snapdragon 835 processor and 4GB of RAM under the hood for what that is worth.
The camera has gotten a pretty big upgrade. There’s a 12-megapixel sensor on the rear with an f/1.8 aperture and Optical Image Stabilization. Most of what’s actually new is in the software. Google algorithmically combines 10 photos every single time you take 1 photo to create a photo that is well exposed and sharp. Information is Google’s secret sauce. It can use all of the information captured from this one sensor to take portrait photos both via the rear and front-facing camera sensors and it can do so much more. It can capture really high quality images just from this one sensor and just from using the information from each pixel. I have high hopes for this camera and I cannot wait to test it out.
The major difference between the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL is battery life. The XL 2 features a larger 3520mAh battery that should help it last you a full day of usage with some power to spare. Other things to note include the Active Edge feature which lets you squeeze the phone to open up the Google Assistant and silence incoming calls. You can customize the sensitivity but you cannot remap the apps it opens. It just opens up the Google Assistant but it works pretty well and I think it’s a very nice feature to have as I’m a big Google Assistant fan.
Bluetooth 5.0 is here so you can expect improved connectivity with Bluetooth wireless devices and there’s a fingerprint scanner on the rear that Google says is the fastest of any smartphone. I’m not really sure about that claim right now but I do like its placement. It does seem to unlock the phone quickly. Pro tip: register the same fingers multiple times to improve accuracy.
The Pixel 2 XL is priced at $850 off-contract and works with all major carriers here in the US. This phone was purchased by yours truly and is not a review unit. I can say that I haven’t been this excited for a smartphone in a really long time.