Home / Technology / Tech-reviews /  Google Pixel 2 XL: Mixing style with the smarts

Google has pretty much covered all screen size bases with the second-generation line-up of the Pixel phones. There is the more conventional and comparatively compact design of the Pixel 2, and the completely modern hues in the larger Pixel 2 XL.

One look at the Pixel 2 XL, and the LG-inspiration becomes very apparent. The smartphone maker, which also makes the G6 and the V30 smartphones, has made this phone for Google and the design reflects that in some ways. What you get are very minimal bezels around the display. Around the back, the glass accent has been retained on the top part of the panel around the camera (the rest is aluminum), but it is now a thinner band than before which means less glass and more metal to feel while holding the phone. Unlike the predecessor, the Pixel 2 XL also gets dust and water resistance, with the IP67 certification.

Speaking of which, there are many changes on the design front. Google has ditched the 16:9 aspect ratio and made the switch to the now-in-vogue 18:9 aspect ratio—this means that your phone is taller than before, but less wide as well. In fact, the Pixel 2 XL gets a larger 6-inch display with a 3D arc, compared to the 5.5-inch display of the predecessor, the Pixel XL. Instead of the AMOLED display in the Pixel, the Pixel 2 XL gets an even better pOLED display, albeit with the same 2880x1440 resolution.

Google couldn’t have compromised on the specifications in a phone that it hopes will be the benchmark device in the Android ecosystem—and it hasn’t. Under the hood is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, with 4GB RAM. Some may scoff at 4GB RAM and instead point to rivals that have 6GB or 8GB RAM instead, but the rivals need more RAM to power the extra software and interface customizations they do on the phones that they sell. The Pixel 2 XL gets faster graphics as well. The phone runs Android Oreo out of the box, and Google has promised security updates for the next three years for both Pixel 2 XL and the Pixel 2 phones.

Also Read: Google Pixel 2: More of the same, but better?

What must not be forgotten is how Google has pretty much pointed to the lack of the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus launched at that time and did what can perhaps be categorized as poking fun at a rival. This year, Google has walked the same path, by removing the headphone jack in both Pixel phones. Now, Google wants to sell you the Pixel Buds wireless earphones ($159; around Rs10,300)—this seems a bit rich, coming from the same company which had said “3.5mm headphone jack satisfyingly not new" in a promo video at last year’s Pixel launch.

The Pixel XL 2 get the Active Edge feature, which basically means that you can squeeze the phone to execute quick actions, such as take a photo or open an app—there are a bunch of sensors sitting beneath the frame of the phone to detect a harder press on the phone. We had first seen this feature on the HTC U11 flagship smartphone, and HTC calls it Edge Sense on that phone, but whether Google will offer similar amounts of customization options remains to be seen.

In terms of the optics, the Pixel XL 2 gets a 12-megapixel camera (same count as last year) with a 1/2.6-inch sensor, a wider f/1.8 aperture, OIS and EIS stabilization features, and a technique known as Dual-Pixel Autofocus for better depth analysis of a photo which is useful in portrait mode. Google will deploy machine learning and computational photography, where the software algorithms in the Pixel XL 2 will understand the contents of a photo and identify faces. The HDR+ mode has been tweaked as well.

Also Read: Get virtual in real world

The cameras on the Pixel 2 XL are optimized for augmented reality apps, the way Apple has optimized the cameras on the iPhone X for AR apps. However, a lot will depend on how well app developers are able to utilize Google’s ARCore platform.

The Pixel 2 XL arrives in India a bit later than usual, around 15 November, which is 15 days after the smaller Pixel 2. The 64GB variant will be priced at Rs73,000, while the 128GB storage variant will carry a price tag of Rs82,000—you can pre-order from 26 October onwards.

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