In October, Google introduced its 2017 flagship Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones that comes with a powerful camera that lets you interact with the world around you, all-day battery life, and an Assistant that understands you better and helps you get more done.

Pixel 2 vs. Pixel 2 XL: What's the difference?

The major differences between the two phones lies in price, size, and screen technology. The Pixel 2 XL has a bigger 6-inch display and a higher resolution than the 5-inch Pixel 2.

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While Pixel 2 XL uses a plastic-OLED (POLED) display, the Pixel 2 has a more traditional AMOLED screen.  Here, we will take a closer look at Pixel 2.

Design and display

Well to be honest, at first look Pixel 2 does not look a premium device that too worth Rs 61,000 (starting price for 64GB variant). And if we compare Pixel 2 to sleek bezels of the Galaxy Note 8, and iPhone 8, the Pixel 2 looks like a boring rectangular slab of brick.

To push clear, loud sound Google has adopted the front facing speaker design. The glass shade on the back looks cleaner.

And while the design changes have made Pixel 2 thinner, leaving a void for bigger battery, killing of the headphone jack is rather more disappointing.

The removal of jack came as bad news for people who have a nice wired headphones or earbuds they would like using, but Google killed that plan too. You can still listen to music via Pixel Buds or connect a pair of great headphones with an adaptor dongle (which comes included in the box).

The Pixel 2 is water and dust resistant to the IP67 standard and comes with important security features baked in. With monthly security updates from Google, your Pixel will always have the most advanced security precautions built in—no more worrying about updating or upgrading.

Some Pixel 2 XL users reported a screen burn in issue wherein parts of images were not being actively displayed. From our experience screen burn-in does happen on some types of displays, but usually after the smartphone has gone some wear and tear. But, the fact that burn-in started happening early on a premium device was a bad omen. Google also issued a statement saying that the Pixel 2 XL's burn-in issue was "in line with that of other premium smartphones and should not affect the normal, day-to-day user experience". However, we did not see any such trace of screen burn-in on the Pixel 2.

Google later promised to deliver timely software updates to help stabilise the device against burn-in and extended both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL's warranty to two years.

Google has also changed the way you work with notifications and home screen. Similar to Galaxy Note 8, the Pixel 2 now comes with an “Always On” lock screen that shows missed notifications and messages when the screen is off.

Use Google Assistant like Shazam to identify songs

From past few years, we all have been using Shazam to identify which song is playing at cafes. But now you can get the same experience right in Google. The company has introduced a new music lookup feature to Google Assistant which automatically displays information about song playing near you.  If you do not like the automatic music detection feature, you can disable it in the settings menu.

Apart from Shazam like passive ability, Google Assistant is now more powerful than ever and makes many other tasks – from sending a text or making a call, to finding an answer faster, easier and hands-free.

Below is what Assistant popped up automatically when a smog hit Delhi in mid-November.

Google has also borrowed HTC’s squeezable design and now with Pixel 2, you can access your Google Assistant with a new feature called Active Edge. Just give the phone a quick squeeze -- even when it’s in a case -- and ask the Assistant for what you need. However, I hardly use the squeeze feature.

Camera

Another USP of the device is its 12.2-megapixel camera that captures fantastic photos. Pixel 2 excelled in indoor, outdoor and low-light shots capturing natural colours and significant amount of depth. Images are cleaner, sharper than the Galaxy Note 8 and OnePlus 5 with less noise. The hues of green, orange, blue were captured beautifully even in the night.

And while most of the flagship smartphone use dual camera set up at the back to produce Portrait Mode photos, Pixel 2 produces artistic blur with just one lens. The phone uses computational photography combined with depth mapping sensor to create depth-of-field effect, commonly known as bokeh.

Below are some of the day light shots taken by Pixel 2. 

If we compare the Pixel 2 bokeh images with that of Galaxy Note 8, the Pixel 2 portrait mode images are not as refined as the Note 8’s. Below are two same images clicked by Note 8's camera and you can clearly see, the colours and bokeh produced is more refined than Pixel 2. 

However, Pixel 2 bokeh’s are usable and we must give to Google’s algorithm how nicely the camera’s algorithm mixes foreground and background. The bokeh images can also be created with the front-facing camera but works only with faces.

Google has also widened the camera's aperture from f2.0 to f1.8 that allows for more light to come in, helping in more detailed low-light photography. The HDR+ mode comes in handy where there is bright light in the background and you need a photo with properly capturing multiple exposures without over shadowing each other. For me, Google Pixel 2 produced best low-light images I have seen in an smartphone. Below are some sample images. 

Further, Google has added optical image stabilisation (OIS) on the rear camera atop gyro-based electronic image stabilisation to make up for less shaky photos and video. I tested the OIS while walking down a street and was impressed by how smoothly it functioned.

Google said the camera will keep getting better over time and coming soon and exclusive to Pixel, users will be able to play with Augmented Reality (AR) Stickers, add playful emojis and virtual characters to your photos and videos and set the scene for your very own stories.

Pixel 2 owners will also get an exclusive preview of Google Lens—a new set of visual smarts that help you learn more about the world around you and get things done. Lens builds on Google’s advancements in computer vision and ML, combined with Knowledge Graph which underpins Google Search.

Processor and battery

Armed with a fast Snapdragon 835 processor, the real-life usage was smooth and speedy, launching apps in an instant and Pixel 2 was also quick to produce portrait shots. However, at times the apps become non-responsive and shut themselves off.

When compared with Note 8, the Pixel 2's battery life was fine, but not great and lasted for approximately 12 hours and 20 minutes on a single charge if you have do not disturb mode on which automatically shuts off vibration and other tones except alarms. When we used normally, the battery lasted less duration and you need to top it off. And FYI, there is no support for wireless charging.

Conclusion

If you are a social media fanatic or an amateur photographer that do not want to carry a DSLR, the images clicked by Pixel clearly outshines the competition. Further, with a promise of faster updates, water-resistant body, speedy performance, and an always improving Google Assistant, makes Pixel 2 a great phone for Android purists.