Google Pixel 2 XL hands-on review

GOOGLE has, following months worth of rumours and leaks, made the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL official. 

The Pixel 2 XL feels like the more exciting model on offer, and while the Pixel 2 is not to be sniffed at, the XL feels like a flagship worthy of taking on the likes of the iPhone X and Galaxy S8 thanks to its big, high-resolution display, beefy battery and modern bezel-less design. 

We’ve taken the Pixel 2 XL for a spin, so read on for our first impressions. 

Design and display
While the Pixel 2 is not too dissimilar from the original Google Pixel design-wise, the Pixel 2 XL has followed in the direction of Apple and Samsung’s latest flagships with its slimmed down bezels that pushes the display panel to the edges of the phone.

Google has also upped the size of the display from 5.5in to 6in, and while the Pixel 2 retains a lowly Full HD resolution, the Pixel 2 XL ups the ante with a QHD resolution with an 18:9 ratio. The pOLED display proved plenty bright and sharp enough, as you’d expect, although it wasn’t quite as punchy as the display on the Galaxy S8. 

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The back of the phone hasn’t changed quite as much. Google has retained the glass panel at the top that houses the camera, along with the matte aluminium body and two-tone colour scheme. Unfortunately, you’ll still find the circular fingerprint reader on the rear of the phone, which we found quite difficult to comfortably reach when using the phone one-handed.

Elsewhere, you’ll find the volume rocker and power button on the left-hand side of the device, with the solitary USB-C charging port on the bottom. Like Apple, Google has decided to ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack, which means you’ll need to invest in a dongle, some wireless headphones or, er, a drill. 

Google’s Pixel 2 XL, along with the Pixel 2, also boast ‘Active Edge’ functionality, which is suspiciously similar to the squeezy Sense Edge tech found on the HTC U11. The feature allows you to grip the phone to fire up Google Assistant, and while it requires a fair bit of force, it seemed to work well during our hands-on time with the phone. Saying that, it is a bit gimmicky, and we can’t imagine many people using it day-to-day. 

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Both of Google’s new Pixels are also IP67 water and dust resistant, so they’ll handle dips, spills and splashes much better than either of the existing models do. 

Performance and software
Under the hood of the Pixel 2 XL you’ll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, paired with 4GB RAM. Rumour has it, the smartphone was originally set to ship with a souped-up Snapdragon 836 chip, but this apparently wasn’t ready in time. 

Still, we’ve no complaints performance-wise, and the Pixel 2 XL was just as zippy as you’d expect. However, the real test is how it performs over an extended period of time, so you’ll have to check back for our full Google Pixel 2 XL review.

This zippy performance is likely helped by the smartphones’ stripped-back Android Oreo software, which comes with none of the additional guff that’s often found bloating-up non-Google handsets. Google has added some of its own bells and whistles, though, including its long-awaited Lens feature, which uses Assistant to detect what is in the real world around you and provide relevant search results.

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Elsewhere, you’ll get either 64GB or 128GB storage, and you’ll want to choose wisely as there’s no microSD card slot onboard. There’s also 3,520mAh battery, along with support for Fast Charging. There’s no wireless charging support, though. 

Camera
Google is touting the cameras on the Pixel 2 XL as “the best on any smartphone yet”, with DxOMark awarding the snappers with its highest rating yet of 98. 

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benefits from optical image stabilisation plus a wider f/1.7 aperture that will let more light into images, and it performed well even under the harsh lights of Google’s launch event. There’s an 8MP camera on the front, complete with an iPhone-esque Portrait Mode baked-in. 

First impressions
It’s hard to fault the Pixel 2 XL on paper. It’s got a 6in QHD pOLED display with barely-there bezels, zippy Snapdragon 835 internals and, according to Google at least, the best smartphone camera on the market.

However, some will no doubt be miffed at Google’s decision to rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack, while others likely will scoff at the handset’s eye-watering £799 price-tag – or £899, if you want 128GB storage, which you probably will, given the lack of microSD slot. 

Still, we’ll reserve full judgement until we put the handset fully through its paces, so check back soon for our full review. µ

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