This is one of my most anticipated phones for the year. Besides the Note 8, the underrated LG V30, maybe the iPhone X, the Pixel was in my top list of phones to get. If you have been seeing the tweets or following some tech news out there, sadly the Pixel 2 XL has been receiving some bad press about the screen. I’ll give you my stance on that later. But jumping into this, I personally paid $849 for the Just Black model. As always, I’ll leave my affiliate links up above, click on my links and they’ll give you the most updated prices as of today. You never know when they might go on sale.
So without further ado, sit back, relax, and I’ll help you make that purchase decision. Welcome everyone, to another review.
Before we get started, I’m going to refer to this phone as the XL 2, rather than saying the entire name to be politically correct. So, going over the physical features first, let’s bring up the fancy graphics. Google, at least in the physical build is surely up there with flagship phones. Nearly identical in thinness, weight, height, screen size, you name it. But during my time using the XL 2, I did enjoy the slate-like feel and the sharp edges. It’s not as slippery as my S8+, and surely not as round as my iPhone 8+. It feels like a solid piece of metal and glass.
The XL 2 is also IP67 certified, meaning this can be completely submerged under water up to 1 meter or 3.3 feet, for up to 30 minutes. Dunking this in water to quickly test, the phone is still functioning perfectly fine.
The feature I thought was cool but didn’t think I would use as often, was this squeeze. Since our phones are already in our hands, giving it a hug with your palm brings up Google Assistant right away, and it works flawlessly. During my time testing and simply using this on a daily basis, I never had any false positives while in my hands or while wearing my tight nut-hugging jeans. If it’s a concern, you can always adjust its sensitivity.
feature I loved and I wished more people were talking about this; dual front-facing speakers and relatively small bezels. Shout out to those who have owned the Nexus 6p. Of course, audio is so much more directional, but the audio separation is the best on any smartphone that I’ve used, and the fact when I’m watching Youtube videos, Netflix, etc, I’m not blocking the speakers. Comparing to other flagships on the market at the moment, nothing really competes with this. Except the Razer phone from what I’ve heard on the Interwebs. Speaking of audio, if you look directly at the bottom of the phone, you’ll notice there’s no 3.5mm port to connect your earphones or headphones. To alleviate the matter, Google does include in the retail packaging a little dongle that attaches to USB-C. Phones are heading this way. I still like my wired headphones, but you can be the judge if this is a deal breaker or not.
Touching base on USB-C, Google includes in the package an 18-watt power adapter. 15 minutes of charging gets you 7 hours of use which is quite impressive. I tested this and confirmed it to be not as accurate. Google could have done a different test to offer 7 hours. Maybe the 7 hours is standby time, I’m not sure. But for me, I was able to get 11% battery back, and per the phone, it’s indicating an hour and 37 minutes of use, not even close to the 7 hours, and I’m clearly not doing anything with the phone.
Regarding battery life, I’m able to go from a full battery to dead in a little over 24 hours as proof on your screen. So from 7 in the morning to about 9 AM the following day is what I’m getting. As for screen-on time, I’m averaging 5 hours and 20 minutes. Again, proof is on your screen.
Rotating to the rear, the XL 2 is one of the few flagships today that doesn’t have a glass back. That might be a pro or con to you. I personally don’t mind. Less fingerprints, less stuff to shatter, and it feels like a slate of metal in my hands. No issues. On the flip side, you don’t get wireless charging which I know some value out there. Moving slightly up, fingerprint scanner on the rear which worked super fast. And all the way at the top, let’s get into the camera.
We have a 12 megapixel shooter on the rear with High Dynamic Range. My Samsung S8+ has the fastest auto-focusing system available with oddly the Motorola Z2 Force as being second. LG V30 comes close but after testing the Pixel 2 XL, it is equally and maybe, just maybe a fraction faster than my Samsung. Crazy impressive.
Taking a look at photos. DXO gave the Pixel 2 XL a 98 – a new record for the 3rd party independent website. My biggest praise from testing this, is how much detail is retained on the Pixel 2 XL. Also, I never realized how much Samsung and LG phones tend to shoot hella brighter, bringing up shadows. At times, the others do work out for the better creating a more evenly lit image, but many times when you’re out in bright daylight, highnoon, blowout would occur on those phones much more often than the Pixel 2 XL… certainly some brownie points, or in my case, fire emoji’s there. Last on the positive note, the camera does very well in low light situations.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the colors and images at times are not really flattering. The images tend to look dull and not as vibrant. Both my V30 and Samsung S8+, they pump up vibrancy and saturation, and despite having some blowout, the first impression when showing friends and family, they tend to be more wowed by colors that pop. It’s no different than noticing a bright colored sports cars versus an all black AMG Mercedes.
Both fantastic vehicles, both I would love to own but can’t afford, but the honest question to one’s self: which one visually strikes you first? And I’m aware, some of these flagships to exaggerate colors and become inaccurate. The Pixel 2 XL are not bad pictures, the wow factor isn’t it’s strong suit, but at the end of the day, I believe the amount of detail it retains is where it’s at.
Quickly touching base on it’s front facing camera. Now this is one of the best, if not the best that I’ve tested to date. Minimal blow out, clear and crisp images, and comparing to say my Samsung S8+, it’s consistent with providing good results. I mean damn, my face looks clear, a little too clear at times.
Touching base on the display, I gave this some extra time to give a deeper assessment so I don’t write off the phone as soon as I received it, basically giving this phone a chance. It’s honestly a love/hate relationship. I loved the thinner bezels, Google offering 6inches of display is up to par with other flagships on the market. The resolution is high and equal to the best out there. With the being said, the downside, and it seems that the market, the consumer that is, is wanting a more saturated screen. I have confirmed Google initially wanted a color space that was accurate… but due to consumer concerns and demands, there will be a firmware update that will offer a quote, “saturated color profile.”
For the time being, I will admit, skin tones do look very accurate, at times even more so than the newest iPhone. Many of the tans and browns of trees and sunlight, hair and some clothing do look more accurate, but when it comes to pure reds, blues, something like orange juice on screen, those look inaccurate. Here’s some quick proof as I’m holding the Pixel 2 XL in front of my factory tuned and calibrated sRGB accurate Dell monitors I use to edit video and my photography work. As you can see, it doesn’t look close.
Also, if you want to further nitpick as proof, the Youtube Logo is true red. It uses the same color code and if you look at the app, it looks washed out. And this is me not trying to be funny, the Allo app looks like the dollar store branded mustard, but when you visit the app store on my 100% accurate sRGB Dell XPS 15 laptops from 2017, my laptop clearly looks a hell of a lot more legit. At the end of the day, the display is not accurate and I have no idea why Google is saying that it is. Also, the screen colors are dark as hell, it’s the darkest out of all four flagships I have in front of me… causing me to lose detail… and last, there’s this blue shift tint that I gave an extra week of testing, just to give the phone a chance, I eventually somewhat got used to it… The problem, when I share my screen with a friend so I can show them a meme, or work document, some web pages and such, the viewing angles are bad and since they’ve not used it, they ask if there’s an issue with my phone. It gets pretty frustrating after awhile.
Some of the biggest highlights, you do get the latest Bluetooth 5.0. The latest Android updates as soon as they’re available. You go get unlimited and full resolution photo and video uploads to your Google photo account. You get the current latest processor, the SnapDragon 835 with 4gigs of ram on board, which was surely enough for my needs with zero stutters, if anything it was the zippiest phone compared to my Samsung, Apple, and LG devices I currently have.
So folks, those are the biggest features, biggest perks of the phone I think that will help consumers make a purchase decision. In my personal opinion, the majority of the phone is awesome, and I honestly want to love the phone, but that screen, I honestly found myself trying to justify it for the past several weeks, in the end, I shouldn’t be doing that if I’m shelling out $850. You guys take care, I’ll see you, on the next one.
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