As far as smartphones are concerned, 2017, so far, has seen radical departure in terms of styling. Full-screen design is in, bezels have started to disappear and the display shows more without increasing the phone’s footprint. LG, Samsung and even Apple, are adopting the new design language. And while the dual cameras had come into trend last year, it has spread like a wildfire this year with almost all companies going for the two-lens setup even for some of their mid-range devices.
And now, Google has introduced the successors to its first Pixel devices in Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Clearly, these two handsets have been among the most awaited smartphones of 2017. Google is vying to build its own ecosystem with the Pixels being the epicenter of it all – we can see it happening with various Pixel centric accessories like the Pixel Pods, Google Clips, Home Mini and of course, the PixelBook. All these have been designed to work together in perfect harmony.
So, what all is new in Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL?
Both Pixels are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4 GB of RAM and get 64 GB and 128 GB of non-expandable storage, as well as the same rear and front cameras of 12.2 MP and 8 MP respectively. And no, the rear unit is not a dual camera (more on that below). Furthermore, there is a USB-C port, a fingerprint sensor at the back and the 3.5mm headphone jack is gone. The Pixel 2 gets a 2,700mAh battery while the XL gets a 3,520mAh unit.
But it is the Pixel 2 XL which has got more new stuff to show off. Starting from the full-screen design, the larger Pixel looks radical and more up-market. The front design is on the same lines of the latest flagships from Samsung and LG, however, the bezels at the sides are still there. Google says it prevents accidental inputs when you are holding the handset. And you will be holding to the sides pretty tight quite often in order to experience the “Active Edge” feature (squeezing the sides will activate Google Assistant). Another reason for the bezels to be there is because there are front firing stereo speakers that invariably require a bit more bodywork to fit into.
The screen is now 6 inches OLED with QHD+ resolution (1,440 x 2,880 pixels), up from 5.5 inches of the previous XL, and is said to have achieved 100% color accuracy. However, it is neither HDR10 compliant nor does it get Dolby Vision, which is unlike the iPhone X and even the Galaxy S8/S8+/Note 8 (they have HDR10, but no Dolby Vision).
Comparatively, the smaller Pixel, Pixel 2, has a 5-inch OLED screen delivering a resolution of 1,080 x 1,920 pixels. The differences to the front between the two siblings don’t end here – the Pixel 2 continues to sport the more conservative design with huge top and bottom bezels along with generous side bezels as well. Basically, it looks closer to its predecessor.
It is the camera where the major advancement comes. Both phones share the 12.2 MP rear camera which now gets the much needed OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) along with dual-pixel phase detection autofocus. The aperture is also bigger at f1.8 (compared to the f2.0 in the previous Pixel devices). But even without a secondary lens the new camera gets a Portrait mode and according to Google, it has been made possible largely due to the dual-pixel technology (which means one pixel is made up of two smaller pixels).
It does seem that Google has done a brilliant job with the camera as early reactions are very positive about its image quality and it is said to be a major improvement over the last one. In fact, DxOMark has already placed the camera in the new Pixels higher than the ones in the iPhone 8 Plus and the Note 8.
Coming to the audio capability, both devices come without the highly lovable 3.5mm headphone jack. It is a choice which has got polarizing opinions from the casual and hardcore users alike. That said, there is a new wireless earbud, called the Pixel Buds. Besides from working like typical wireless earphones, the Pixel Buds get a unique functionality of real-time language translation. The concept is that a person can speak into the earphone in his language while the other person will hear the same in his native language and vice-versa. It is still to be seen how good or effective it is going to be.
Google is also betting big on its virtual assistant – Google Assistant. It can be activated by squeezing the sides of the phone. It might seem like a weird activity at the beginning but the company believes it is only a matter of time that people will get used to it. Also, another function assigned to squeeze is of silencing the phone when it’s ringing. This has been done so that the squeezing action doesn’t come across as a complete gimmick. Lastly, there are multiple levels of squeeze one can set.
Overall, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are more of incremental upgrades over their predecessors (especially the smaller one of the two). This is an approach similar to what Apple has been doing with its iPhones. Also, while both phones get fast charging feature, there is no wireless charging which is actually surprising (considering that even Apple has added this to its latest iPhones).
Finally, the price and availability – Pixel 2 starts from INR Rs 61,000 for the 64 GB model and Rs 70,000 for the 128 GB model while the Pixel 2 XL is priced at Rs 73,000 and Rs 82,000 for the 64 GB and 128 GB models respectively. Pre-orders have started and both phones will be available from October 17.
Image credits: GSMARENA and TheVerge