The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are Google's latest smartphones to battle against the likes of Apple iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, LG V30, and more flagship phones in the market. The first generation Pixels were excellent smartphones, but they did not grab the attention of the crowd, but this year's Pixel 2 series grabbed the entire attention from the media, of course, for all the bad.
Early international reviews touted the Google Pixel 2 XL as the best smartphone of 2017 in every aspect. I said, 'early' international reviews because later on the entire drama about the display of the Pixel 2 XL started. International blogs started noticing blue shift on the display, burn-in problem, and today some users reported that the oleophobic coating on the display of the Pixel 2 XL is coming out within just two weeks of use.
Well, Google also launched another device alongside the Pixel 2 XL, dubbed as Google Pixel 2. It has got the same design as the bigger Pixel, same camera, and in fact, there are only two features that differentiate the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL- battery and screen. I got the Pixel 2 for review and its been exactly a week since I have started using the smartphone. Here's my experience with the device.
The Pixel 2 boasts of the metal body, but thanks to the textured finish on the back, the phone feels like it's made out of plastic. That's not a bad thing, but due to the same coating, the smartphone became slippery. At 143 grams, the Pixel 2 is on the lighter side when compared to other flagship smartphones.
But...there's more to the design of the smartphone. When you look the smartphone from the front, the Pixel 2 looks like a device from 2015. Yes, you heard, Google opted to use a 16:9 aspect ratio 5-inch display on the Pixel 2, when other brands are moving away from the 16:9 display tech. That said, the Pixel 2 XL offers an 18:9 display.
There are many smartphones still in 2017 with 16:9 display, but the bezels on the Pixel 2 are unacceptable, which is the reason why I said the Pixel 2 looks like a smartphone from 2015. The Pixel 2 features front-facing stereo speakers, which makes you forget the bezels. And the speakers sound great, if not, better than the Apple iPhone 8 Plus' stereo speakers.
Talking about that 16:9 5-inch display, it's an AMOLED panel with a Full HD resolution and a pixel density of 441 PPI. The display of the Pixel 2 offers decent sunlight legibility and the viewing angles are too. Accompanying the Full HD panel is a 2700mAh battery with support for fast charging.
Probably the only disappointment in the Pixel is the battery life. It offers a day worth of battery life with a constant screen-on time of more than four hours. Some days, the Pixel 2 did not offer me a day worth battery life. But again, it entirely depends on your usage.
Now, let's move on the highlight features of the Pixel 2 which makes it unmatchable by the competition. If one is the camera, then the other one is the software. The Pixel 2 ships with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, and comes with high-end hardware such as Snapdragon 835 SoC, 4GB of RAM, Adreno 540 GPU, it delivers buttery smooth performance.
In my entire week with the smartphone, I did not notice glitters or lags a single time. Such is the optimisation from Google. The Always-On Display makes a return, there’s the new Pixel launcher which comes preinstalled on the smartphone.
Then there're the Pixel exclusive features such as Google Lens, Now Playing, and Active Edge. Firstly, the Google Lens feature- it's works same as the Google Now on Tap feature, but when enabled it scans an image and displays information about it. That said, this feature is still in beta stage and may take another year to become completely stable.
Next up, there's the Now Playing which recognises the song playing in the background and shows it on the lock screen. The best part is that this feature even works in offline mode. Lastly, there's the Active Edge feature, which is a hardware feature added by Google to the Pixel 2 lineup. The Pixel 2 comes with an Edge sensor which opens up Google Assistant by squeezing the sides of the phone. You can adjust the squeezing level.
Finally, we have those cameras in the Pixel 2, which makes you forget the average battery life and those huge bezels on the front. The Pixel 2 rocks a 12.2MP rear camera with f/1.8 aperture, 1.4µm pixel size, and it's a 1/2.6-inch sensor. This time around, Google added Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) for shake-less video recording. The Pixel 2 also comes with Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS).
Hands down, the Pixel 2 has the best camera on any smartphone. Period. Daylight shots come out extremely good with excellent dynamic range, exposure, and everything on point. What truly makes the Pixel 2 standout from others is the Google's HDR+ algorithm.
Google has said a lot about the Pixel 2's Portrait mode and by far, it's the best we have seen in a smartphone. Google has achieved this with a single camera while other manufacturers are battling with a secondary sensor on board. Google achieved these results with Artificial Intelligence technology and through its software processing.
The Pixel 2 rocks an 8MP front-facing camera which has f/2.4 aperture and 1.4µm pixel size. The selfie camera captures decent shots, and guess what, it also comes with a Portrait mode, and the results are stunning too. Like the rear camera, the Pixel 2's front-facing camera also delivers some stunning Portrait shots.
Video recording of the Pixel 2 is excellent. Together with OIS and EIS, the Pixel 2's videos are decent, but sometimes, the camera oversaturates the video. The Pixel 2 can record 4K videos at 30fps, 1080p videos at 30fps/60fps/120pfps, and 720p videos at 240fps. The 8MP front camera records videos at 1080p quality, and sadly, no 4K video recording like the Nokia 8.
Like I said, the Pixel 2 offers an excellent camera, stellar Android experience, and these both make up for the average battery life and 16:9 design smartphone in 2017. At the same time, I rate the Pixel 2 as the best compact smartphone to purchase in 2017.