Last year saw Google jump into the mobile market by making its own smartphone. With the help of HTC, the search giant created the Pixel and Pixel XL, two phones that continue to impress even today. A year later, can Google build on the success that made its phones our favorite of 2016?
The highlight of Google’s new duo, of course, is the Pixel 2 XL, and it doesn’t disappoint. The most obvious change from last year’s model is the new 6-inch pOLED QHD+ display, which features an 18:9 aspect ratio. It’s what you’d expect in a flagship made in 2017—one that LG allegedly helped build.
But there’s more to the Pixel 2 XL than meets the eye. With features like a squeezable frame, class-leading camera, and front-facing stereo speakers, Google’s new flagship is primed to compete against the market’s top devices, one of which is Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8.
While the Note 8 is notable for its dual-camera setup and S Pen accessory, the Pixel 2 XL gives Samsung’s best flagship a run for its money. Here are five reasons why you should buy the Pixel 2 XL instead of the Note 8.
Front-facing stereo speakers
Very few flagships sport front-facing stereo speakers, so it’s a nice surprise to learn that both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL proudly wear the feature. It’s one of those things you didn’t know you wanted until experiencing for yourself. To be fair, Google is no stranger to the feature, having introduced the Nexus 6P with dual front-facing stereo speaker. The inclusion means users will enjoy a better, more immersive audio experience, which should go great with the Pixel 2 XL’s 6-inch QHD display.
As we saw with the HTC U11, the Pixel 2 XL features an active frame that can be squeezed to invoke certain functions. For example, when a call comes in, you can easily mute it with a simple squeeze; same goes for snoozing an alarm. Squeezing the Pixel 2 XL’s frame will also invoke Google Assistant, which sure beats uttering Ok Google in a public space. The feature was more gimmicky in the HTC U11, but Google has seemingly found a balance that will make the squeezable frame part of your everyday routine.
A year after the Pixel was released, and its camera is still being praised. We expect that same level of quality from the Pixel 2 XL, which feature’s Google’s new image processor. The search giant this year put greater emphasis on low-light performance, while introducing features like “face retouching” and “motion photo,” the latter of which is like Apple’s Live Photos feature. Despite there being no dual-camera arrangement, the Pixel 2 XL features a portrait mode, which Google says produces “perfect background blurs.”
In addition to Google Assistant, the Pixel 2 XL features a revamped launcher and support for Google Lens, which is available as an exclusive preview. The new feature allows users to perform real world searches. For example, if you take a picture of a famous landmark, Lens will kick back information about what you’re looking at. “You’ll be able to look up landmarks, books, music albums, movies and artwork” through the Lens application. The demos we’ve seen have been incredibly impressive, but we’ll see how it holds up in the real world. What’s more, the Pixel 2 XL will receive the latest version of Android faster than any other device—who know how long it’ll be before the Note 8 gets Android 8.0.
Outfitted with a black glass panel, white aluminum chassis, and a quirky orange power button, the Pixel 2 XL features a unique design that looks sleek and elegant. Compared to last year’s model, the design looks incredibly polished, and with a 6-inch display, it should be a comfortable size without feeling unwieldy. The overall footprint is 6.2 inches tall, which should fit in your pocket without issue.