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Google Pixel 2 XL Review

The Google Pixel 2 XL (and regular sized Pixel 2) was announced with declarations of "The best smartphone camera in the world" let's find out if it lives up to the hype.

|  Google Pixel 2 XL in Camera Phones
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Google Pixel 2 XL Black (4)

The Google Pixel 2 and larger 2 XL, as seen here, were announced as the "best smartphone cameras" available. The 2 XL features a 6inch 18:9 aspect ratio screen, and an almost borderless design, but doesn't quite match other borderless phones like the S8 and S9+ or the iPhone X. Lets see if Google's Pixel 2 XL can beat these other smartphones with the camera quality, thanks to Google's image processing. Google promise impressive bokeh (and background blur) with only one camera. The smartphone is available for £629 sim-free, or £559 for the smaller Pixel 2.

Google Pixel 2 XL Features

Google Pixel 2 XL In Hand (1)

The main camera in the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL is the same, with the difference between the two models being the screen size and memory options, with the 2 XL featuring a larger 6inch screen. Both cameras have a 12mp f/1.8 camera featuring optical image stabilisation (OIS), dual-pixel autofocus, and 1.4um pixels. 

There is a dual LED flash on the back, but no LED flash for the front selfie camera (however, there is an option to use the screen as a flash). The front selfie camera is an 8mp f/2.4 camera, with 1.4um pixels. The camera uses dual pixel auto-focus to take portrait photos with blurred backgrounds. The HDR+ / HDR Enhanced photo modes produce sharper images with more dynamic range and less noise. 

4K UHD video is recorded at 30fps, and you can record slow-motion at 120fps (FullHD resolution) or 240fps (1280x720 resolution).

Google Pixel 2 XL In Hand (2)

There is a large 6inch 18:9 aspect screen, with curved corners, and QuadHD+ 2880x2440 resolution. The camera screen fills a large area of the phone and is almost borderless, but not as borderless as others. There's Gorilla Glass 5 coating to protect against scratches, however, a screen protector is still a good idea.

The smartphone comes with unlimited online storage until the year 2020, so that you can store all your original full-size images online. After 2020 you can only backup smaller images.

There are squeezable sides, like the HTC U11, so that if you can squeeze the phone, it will bring up Google Assistant, and you can ask the assistant to "Take a Selfie" or "Take a photo".

The fingerprint sensor can unlock the phone and is found on the back of the phone. There are front stereo speakers.

The phone comes with a generous 4GB RAM and 64GB Storage, which should be plenty, and if you want more, there is a 128GB version.

The phone is running Android 8.0 and an update to 8.1 is available. Google says that the phone is guaranteed to get updates for 3 years, and comes with a 2-year warranty. There's USB-C on the bottom, a sim slot, but no MicroSD slot, and no headphone socket.

Whilst the smartphone is waterproof (IP67) down to 1m, for 30 minutes, you'll still need to take care around water, as the USB port is exposed. The Samsung Galaxy S8 has an IP68 rating, which means it's waterproof down to 1.5m for 30 minutes, but it will still complain about the USB port being wet if you don't dry it properly.

Google Pixel 2 XL Black (2)

Key Features

  • 12mp f/1.8 camera, 1.4um pixels, OIS
  • Dual pixel autofocus
  • Dual LED flash
  • 8mp f/2.4 front camera (Selfie), 1.4um pixels
  • 6inch (5.98inch) 18:9 QuadHD+ 2880x1440 screen
  • HDR+ shooting
  • 4GB/64GB (128GB option)
  • 4K / FullHD video
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Aluminium Unibody
  • 3520mAh battery
  • Water and dust resistant (IP67)
  • Available in black, black and white

Google Pixel 2 XL Handling

Google Pixel 2 XL Black (3)

The Google Pixel 2 XL features a mostly metal back, with a glass section surrounding the camera lens and LED. As this is glass you'll need to protect it in much the same way as you'd protect any other glass on a smartphone, either with a case or just by being extremely careful with it. 

The screen is large and clear, and it doesn't take too long to get used to a larger screen if you're coming from a smaller one. The screen is bright, but viewing angles aren't as good as other premium smartphones, as it quickly takes on a blue colour cast if you're not viewing it directly. You can also split the screen between two apps.

The fingerprint sensor is in a good place on the back of the phone and is easy to find with your finger and the camera lenses are in the far corner, away from the fingerprint sensor, so it is easy to avoid smudging the lenses with your finger. 

Google Pixel 2 XL Black (7)

On the side is the usual unlock / power buttons, and volume controls. Double press the power button to quickly open the camera app, and use the volume control to take photos or the on-screen button. 

The default camera app has a number of different shooting modes, including: Slow motion, Panorama, Photo sphere, Portrait, AR Stickers, Normal photo and Video.

There is no "pro" or "Professional" mode. But there are options for self-timer, HDR+/Enhanced (if HDR control is on in advanced settings), Motion picture, Grid display, White balance, and flash. You can also switch video stabilisation on or off. If you want more controls, for example, to change the ISO speed or shoot raw, then you'll need a third-party app.

Google Pixel 2 XL Black Lens Close Up
Google Pixel 2 XL Black Lens Close Up

The Pixel 2 XL has an AnTuTu Benchmark score of 204308 (v7.0.4), and a Geekbench score of: 1897 (single-core), and 6365 (multi-core) - giving it some of the highest scores we've seen, only beaten by the iPhone X, and Samsung Galaxy S8 (for Geekbench).

Google Pixel 2 XL Black (6)

Battery Life – Battery management is good, and the battery seemed to last a good length of time, without us having to switch on the power saving mode. However, as the battery can’t be removed, you’ll need to take a USB charger if you think you're going to run out of power. In the box is a USB Type C to USB Type C cable, so it isn't possible to plug the phone into a PC's standard USB socket without a USB Type C to USB cable.

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