Let it be known that I have always been an Android guy. When I was broke, and in college, treeplanting, an iPhone never seemed like a possibility. And so, through a bevy of quality and affordable Nexus devices, I became that guy — the Android guy.
It wasn’t until March of this year — after spilling my Google Pixel in the toilet — that I reached for an iPhone. At best, my experience was fine — iMessage will be missed. At worst, it was mildly infuriating — the keyboard, the notifications, control centres new and old.
After six-plus months of trudging through the rigid confines of iOS, I’m fortunate to be back on Android, with Google’s flagship Pixel 2, no less. And it’s great.
Simplistically, the situation is this: Apple is a design company that makes software; Google is an Internet company that makes hardware. What onlookers wanted to know was if Google could become as good at design faster than Apple could improve on the Internet.
The answer, definitively, is yes.
The Google Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL are phenomenal phones. And make no mistake, they are premium devices — well crafted, and with a synergy between hardware and software that’s truly impressive.
Feature-wise, Google has tried hard to ensure parity between both devices. The XL is not a super-charged version of its smaller counterpart. It’s an interesting decision when compared to Apple’s own approach.
The phones share the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, come with 4 GBs of RAM, and feature 64 or 128 GB storage options. Both are water resistant and lack headphone jacks. The camera, which I’ll get to later, is the same on both devices
Where they differ is in display specs. The Pixel 2 runs a 5-inch AMOLED display panel with squared off corners and larger bezels. The Pixel 2 XL features a 6-inch P-OLED screen with a slightly more intriguing form-factor.
The Pixel 2 XL has had some reported issues with the display. Burn-in, weird tinges of blue depending on the angle. For its part, Google has responded to the issues with a software patch, as well as extending the warranty to two years. If you’re interested — bless your soul if you are — Dieter Bohn at The Verge has a great write-up of the situation.
With the rest of the body, I was surprised to read that the casing is made from aluminum. The device has a distinct, almost disappointing, plastic feel. Google treated the aluminum body with a textured finish designed to hide antenna lines and make the phones easier to grip. Cool aluminum feels great in your hand, but I will not miss how easy it was to drop a raw-dogged iPhone.
Now let’s talk about the camera:
There’s a 12.2 megapixel rear camera, capable of 4K video at 30 FPS, and 1080p video at 120 FPS. It is the top rated mobile device camera, receiving a score of 98 from DxOMark. Personally, photos have elicited a lot of jealous reactions from friends and family. Google is also providing free unlimited photo and video storage for Pixel users until 2020 – which, sure, I’ll take that.
The camera comes with a portrait mode, common on newer flagship devices, that allows for low-key professional quality photos at the tap of a button. Mashable has an article comparing the portrait mode effects on the Pixel 2 XL, the iPhone X and the Samsung Note 8. Guess who wins?
Check out these photos I took of my girlfriend’s dog! Who’s a good boy!?
Another big win is Google Assistant. Slowly, I’ve been working it into my life, and it hasn’t let me down yet. When I’m shaving, I say, “Play me the news,” and thus chimes the CBC News hourly update. This morning, it reminded me to charge my bike lights. Cool! I like to use to the squeezeable edges to call up Google Assisstant, but it’s voice activated too – obviously.
My biggest complaint is the lack of the headphone jack. The phone does come with a dongle, though I’m pretty sure I’ve already lost it. If you need wired headphones, this maybe isn’t the phone for you. It must be said, though, that my editor, a music aficionado who still uses an old iPod Classic, has been trialing the Pixel 2 XL. He has had no problems making the switch to wireless, Bluetooth headphones, though. So, not nothing.
Overall, the Pixel 2 is clearly great. If you’re in the market for a new Android device, you could do a lot worse than the latest offering from Google. And if you’re just tired of the iPhone Whatever, I strongly recommend you give the Pixel 2 a go. You will not be disappointed.