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Hands-on with the Pixel 2 and 2 XL: One’s nice, one’s not

SAN FRANCISCO—I have overwhelmed the new Pixel phone. It’s tough to write about Google’s new smartphones because, well, it’s not about the hardware. The phones are delivery mechanisms for Google’s program and AI algorithms, and nothing of that is really finished yet.

The hardware is fine. The Pixel 2 XL, with its slimmer bezels and 18:9 screen, looks some-more complicated than the Pixel 2. In fact, the most distinguished thing about Google’s hardware is the decision to make two totally opposite phones.

There are some big wins here that request to both phones. The 2 and 2XL are some of the few flagship phones that are done of steel instead of potion or plastic. Apple and Samsung have staid on some-more frail potion backs for easier wireless communication, but Google solves this rather elegantly with a potion window at the top of the phone. The steel feels good and does a good pursuit of making the phones feel like they’re worth their $650-$850 cost tag.


The Pixel 2 XL, which is done by LG, looks handsome. Thanks to the front-facing speakers, the bezels are a bit bigger than its closest cousin, the LG V30. But the 2 XL still looks like a complicated slim-bezel smartphone. The display has winding corners, just like the iPhone X, Galaxy S8, and LG V30, and it fits in good with the rest of the high-end crowd.

The smaller Pixel 2, which is done by HTC, looks like a bit of a disaster from the front. The top and bottom bezels are gigantic—and overtly flattering ugly.

Both inclination are approaching to have amazing cameras. This year, that camera sensor comes with a bump. The lens sticks out of the back of the phone slightly, and its chain on the dilemma of the back means the device will stone back and onward somewhat on a table.

The camera setups are opposite between the phones, too. The Pixel 2 XL puts its camera lens in the corner, followed by the LED flash, which looks nice. The Pixel 2 has its LED peep in the dilemma of the phone, too, which pushes the hulk camera lens toward the core of the phone. This does not demeanour as good.

The sides are different, too. Pixel 2 XL has potion that curves over and meets the side. The Pixel 2 has prosaic potion and chamfered edges.

Of course, the biggest downside of the device relates to both models: the finish miss of a headphone jack.

Both inclination run Android 8.0 with some tradition software and facilities from Google.

The fist gesticulate competence be my favorite underline on the 2 and the 2 XL. Like the HTC U 11, they have pressure-sensitive sides, and a elementary fist of the phones will launch the Assistant. we adore this underline given it’s simply the fastest way to issue a voice command. Just lift the phone out of your pocket, fist it before it even gets to you face, and the voice complement is already up and running, prepared to take a command. For something we do many times a day, having an easy way to launch voice that doesn’t rest on the hotword will be nice.

The new home screen moves the Google Search bar to the bottom of the screen, where it can be some-more simply accessed. Up top, there’s a widget with your next appointment and the weather, and shortly it will be means to show moody and traffic data.

With the mutation of Google Now into Google Feed, Google started focusing reduction on the predictive calendar/flight/traffic information and some-more on being a news surface, so it’s good to see a new front-and-center interface where this information can be seen again.

The 2 and 2 XL both underline a new, always-on ambient presentation screen. This screen shows the time and presentation icons, and given it’s super dark, it doesn’t use much energy from the OLED display. Also on this screen is an always-on Music marker feature. If music is playing, the screen will sensitively display the name of the strain nearby the bottom of the display. Beaming audio information to Google 24/7 would be a bit creepy, so this is instead a internal underline that uses on-device appurtenance training and doesn’t send any information to Google. The downside is that the music-identification preference is singular to 20,000 songs.

Both phones have Google Lens, which we didn’t get to try much at the show. There were a few demos, but but trying it out in the wild, it’s tough to get a feel for how useful it will be in genuine life. For now, the use seems to be annoying. You have to take a picture of something, open Google Photos, and press the lens button. We would prefer to get a live video feed that can brand things.

That’s about it for the Pixel 2s. We saw two phones done by two manufacturers that give two admirably opposite impressions when you see them. The Pixel 2 XL feels like a modern, able smartphone, while the Pixel 2 feels like a phone that shouldn’t exist.

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