Pixel 2, XL hands-on: Squeezable sides and a souped-up camera

Google’s new Pixel phones, a Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, are prepared to block off opposite the iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and LG V30. 

The smaller-sized Pixel 2 has a 5-inch OLED screen, while a incomparable Pixel 2 XL comes with a 6-inch display. These twin Android Oreo phones are Google’s high-end inclination for a leadup into 2018, and so far, we like what we see.

In some ways, a Pixel 2 phones sire today’s biggest trends. They don’t have super-thin bezels and twin cameras like a foe (but Google says it’s tech’s so good, it only needs one camera anyway). In other ways, a Pixel 2s fit right in with a latest crazes, by adding H2O insurgency and display off an odd additional — in this case, squeezable sides. They also shake off a headphone jack, a divisive pierce that upsets copiousness of people.

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These Pixels are also a initial phones to launch with Google Lens, a camera underline we desired when we initial schooled of it behind in May.  (They’re not, however, a initial to launch with Oreo; that’s a Sony Xperia XZ1.) 

To Google, a new Pixels’ many critical underline is a camera, that is a outrageous shopping cause for many. The same camera appears in both a Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, and Google hopes it can tip a best-in-class low-light photography of final year’s Pixel and kick out a fine-detail peculiarity and mural modes of phones that have twin camera lenses. All while doing a work with usually one camera — that’s right, conjunction of a new phones have twin cameras.


The Pixel 2 and 2 XL are pivotal for Google. As a second era of a Pixel family, their success will concrete Google’s place in a personification field, and countenance Google’s $1.1 billion understanding to buy Pixel talent from struggling phone builder HTC. On a other hand, if Pixel 2 sales sag, it could meant some-more Android fans are switching to other phones in a intensely critical holiday deteriorate — and divided from Google’s “pure” prophesy of Android.

As always, it’s unfit to contend how good a Pixel 2s are after usually saying them for a brief time. We do like what we’ve seen of a camera improvements, like softened mural shots and OIS (optical design stabilization). But a foe is fierce, from a iPhone 8 and iPhone X to a Note 8, LG V30 and even a midprice champ, the OnePlus 5, all of that also have good cameras and impressive, high-end specs. (For some-more info, read Google Pixel 2 XL specs contra iPhone X, Galaxy Note 8 and LG V30).

We’ll examination a Pixel 2 and 2 XL to those other heavy-hitters once we get them in for review. For now however, Google hopes that little program upgrades, a absolute camera and Google’s code cachet are adequate to lean buyers looking for clever alternatives to a Apple and Samsung mainstream.

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Behold, Google’s next-gen Pixel is here.


James Martin/CNET

Read alsoPixel 2 unequivocally is a mythic Google Phone

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: Prices and sale date

You can preorder both phones starting Wednesday, Oct. 4, in a US and UK. Preorders in Australia start Oct. 20. The Pixel 2 comes in 3 colors: Kinda Blue, Just Black and Clearly White, and a Pixel 2 XL has twin tone variants: Just Black and Black and White (which reminds us of a tuxedo, a penguin or a panda, depending on a mood).

In a US, they’ll be accessible in sell stores by Oct. 19 and we can buy them by Verizon, a Google Store, Project Fi and Best Buy. The Pixel 2 costs $649 (64GB) or $749 (128GB). The Pixel 2 XL costs $849 (64GB) or $949 (128GB).

If we preorder a Pixel, Google is charity a special bundle that gets we a new Google Home Mini device for free, in some countries like a US.

Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL pricing

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The 6-inch Pixel 2 XL.


James Martin/CNET

Pixel 2 vs. Pixel 2 XL: What’s a difference?

The categorical disproportion between a Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL is size. Neither is some-more “advanced” than a other. But a Pixel 2 XL has a aloft shade fortitude and pixel density. It has a bigger battery to accommodate a incomparable screen, too.  

Google Pixel 2 vs. Pixel 2 XL

No headphone jack, yet a Pixel 2s are waterproof

For anyone anticipating opposite wish that a Pixel 2 phones will keep a headphone jack, we have some unhappy news. Alas, like a new Apple iPhones and Motorola Motos, a Pixel 2 phones don’t have headphone jacks. (This is generally comical given that Google creatively touted a Pixel with a “3.5mm headphone jack” that is “satisfyingly not new.”)

The association pronounced there were many reasons it lopped off a jack (it creates a phones thinner, allows for a bigger battery, some-more people are listening regulating wireless headphones anyway, and so on). It will embody an adapter in a box though, and Google is offered a possess span of wireless headphones called Pixel Buds. Still, a miss of headphone jack can be a understanding breaker for some, generally given carrying around a dongle is annoying.

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Like Apple’s iPhone, Google did divided with a headphone jack with a Pixel 2.


James Martin/CNET

It’s not all bad news, though. Both audio speakers have been changed to a front now (which substantially contributes to a thick bezels) and a phones are now water-resistant. Satisfying IP67 waterproof standards, they can be submerged in about 3 feet (1 meter) of H2O for adult to 30 minutes, definition you’ll have one rebate thing to worry about during a beach or pool.

Overall, a Pixel 2 phones demeanour like a tidier, cleaner chronicle of final year’s phones. There are fewer lines and manifest bands going around a phones, and a potion shade on a behind (which is now done out of a some-more durable Corning Gorilla Glass 5) is softened integrated, regulating right adult to a phones’ edges. But distinct final year there’s a camera strike now, and a tip bezel and bottom chin on a Pixel 2 are generally thick. This isn’t a outrageous deal, yet now that skinny bezels are in, this creates a phone demeanour somewhat dated.

Single-lens, with ‘better’ mural mode and OIS

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The PIxel 2 now has OIS.


Google/GIF by CNET

The Pixel 2 phones don’t have a dual-camera setup, distinct many vital flagship phones, with a disproportion of a Galaxy S8, yet a some-more new Note 8 has twin back shooters. But Google insists that a single-lens camera is still a best around, and a Portrait Mode feature, renamed from final year’s Lens Blur, works usually as well-spoken with one lens as other phones that use two.

Using a multiple of facial algorithms and a depth-mapping design sensor, a Pixel 2’s camera renders confused backgrounds for a dramatic, brief depth-of-field effect. When we used Lens Blur final year, it was sketchy and wasn’t considerable during all. It’ll be engaging to exam how Google will govern it this time around, while still regulating a singular lens, despite with some-more modernized tech. You can take bokeh images with a front-facing camera too, yet since usually a facial training is built into that shooter, it will usually work on faces and not objects.

Google also added lots of tech for design stabilization. In further to visual design stabilization (OIS) for photos and video, a camera uses information from a gyroscope and peeks during a video support forward to stabilise footage. When we took a demeanour during it practical to a video of a chairman acrobatics down a silt dune, footage looked solid and smooth, though that dreamy, drone-like outcome we beheld on a strange Pixel.

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Testing Portrait Mode on a rear- (left) and front-facing (right) camera.


Lynn La/CNET

Other camera details: 

  • Google widened a camera’s orifice from f2 to f1.8. This lets in a little bit some-more light, that is all in photography. (Editors’ Note: This was corrected on Oct 5, 2017.)
  • Motion Photos (similar to a iPhone’s Live Photos) annals a video for 1.5 seconds before and after a singular shot. It afterwards trims them and loops them into a GIF-ish, “live” picture.
  • Google claims that it softened a HDR+ in a Pixel 2 with increasing energetic operation and softened sound reduction. 
  • The camera is optimized and calibrated to support AR and comes with AR stickers. They work like unchanging print stickers we supplement to your photos and video, yet they’re 3D elements and characters that pierce around and correlate in real-life environments.
  • Like final year, Google is charity total cloud-storage for photos. Photos will be stored during their strange fortitude (that includes 4K video). But it’s usually until a finish of 2020. After that, any new photos/videos we take will be stored in high resolution, that competence not indispensably be full resolution.

Squeezable sides and Google Lens

Google Assistant debuted in final year’s Pixels and now there’s a whole new approach to launch it on a Pixel 2s: squeezing a phones’ sides with your hand. 

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Introduced during Google I/O, Lens can also make signing onto Wi-Fi networks super easy.


CNET

This takes a page from this year’s HTC U11, with a difference. While we could fist a U11’s edges in a prolonged or brief press to launch usually about any app of your choosing, a Pixel 2 usually opens Assistant with a brief squeeze. (Well, we can fist a Pixel 2’s sides to still a ringer if it goes off, yet that’s flattering most it.) After Assistant opens, we can afterwards tell it to do other things like snap a selfie or play music.

In addition, both Assistant and a camera’s Photo app are integrated with Google Lens. Introduced during Google I/O progressing this year, Lens scans what it sees by your camera lens to tell we some-more about a universe around you. It’s a lot like Samsung’s Bixby Vision app on a Galaxy S8 and Note 8.

For instance, contend you’re during a Edvard Munch muster during a San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. If we wanted to know some-more about a portrayal “Moonlight,” take a print of it (if a museum lets you, that is), daub a Lens idol and Lens will call adult info about it. It works on art, landmarks, books and it can indicate business cards to autopopulate a Contacts card. Lens will entrance initial in a Pixel 2 and 2 XL by Photos and afterwards Assistant, yet will hurl out to other Android inclination afterward.

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Does a Pixel 2 and 2 XL have adequate lift to seductiveness new users?


Google

More things to know about a Pixel 2 and 2 XL:

  • They run Android Oreo 8.0. 
  • Music Detection is a Pixel-exclusive underline that runs invariably in a background. Whenever a phone picks adult a strain (for example, in a store or a car), it’ll demeanour adult a artist and strain and list it on your lockscreen. Tap a inventory and Assistant will uncover we options to buy a lane on Google Play or watch a YouTube video. This underline works offline and on Airplane Mode, yet if you’re worried with your phone “always listening” we can invalidate it. 
  • The Google Search bar has been changed from a tip of a phone to a bottom.
  • In a place is At a Glance, that displays impending info about your day like calendar events, traffic, moody standing and more.
  • The phone has an Always On lockscreen, display missed notifications and messages even when a shade is off. 
  • The Pixels supports Google’s ARCore for AR/VR calm developers and is concordant with Google’s AR/VR height Daydream.

Google Pixel 2 eventuality live: Watch a livestream of Google’s press discussion

Everything Google usually announced: Every story from Google’s Pixel 2 eventuality  

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