Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones are finally official. Following an unveiling event on 4 October 2017, the Californian tech giant spilled the beans on its latest pair of handsets is here – this is what’s new.
Both smartphones are the successors to last year’s Pixel and Pixel XL, and there are a handful of important upgrades. They may have similar features, but there are a couple of crucial differences that set the two apart – just like last year.
Google did manage to pull one or two rabbits out of its hat. But are those goodies enough to entice new customers and dismiss the lure of Apple’s new iPhone X? Check below..
Google needs to extend its free Drive storage for Pixel owners to more than just pictures and videos. That, frustratingly, didn’t happen. But the continuation of free, unlimited storage for all pictures and videos taken by Pixel owners is obviously welcome. Especially since Apple’s iCould, well, isn’t free (beyond 5GB).
In the field, the very knowledge of having that unlimited space has been freeing, in a sense. Battling with how much storage is left on your phone is a constant, nagging worry that doesn’t need to exist.
And sifting through thousands of terrible photos – to see which should be binned – is never something I’m going to do, although I probably will have to at some point. But, for now, I’m happy to kick that can down the road with unlimited free storage.
New earphones, the Pixel Buds,combined with Assistant’s translation, are an interesting proposition.
The idea is simple: real-time language translation aided by speaking to your earphones. It’s a problem tech people have been trying to solve for yonks and Microsoft was arguably one of the first to the finish line with a similar Skype feature. But Google’s headphones make use of a feature in the only scenario that anyone would use it: travelling. Speaking to a person face to face.
But there’s one obvious downside, both parties need to have a Pixel and/or Pixel Buds to use the feature, which means you’ll probably never use it in any practical sense.
Real-time language translation and object recognition that provides immediate contextual information are almost certainly the harbingers of humanity’s end. But, in the meantime, they’re also quite useful. Aside from the gimmicks like squeezing the Pixel 2 to launch Assistant, it’s clear there are some genuinely useful everyday functionality built into Assistant.
Google showed a good example of this in action: a commuter, getting into their car, and asking Google one question. Assistant then lists out the best route to take, where they let off on the podcast they were listening to, and lists any unread messages they’ve received. You know, like an actual assistant.
Google Lens will spot a picture and give you search results based on the object it’s pointed at. For example, taking a picture of a dog will tell you what kind of dog it is – and also not to take pictures of other people’s dogs. Landmarks, food and drink, art – you name it and Lens will tell you.
Google has built upon the success the company had with the original Pixel’s camera by making the 12.2-MP camera even better. A busy show floor isn’t the best time to put any camera through its paces, but the Pixel 2’s rear camera is dressed to impress.
The specs haven’t changed much: we’re treated to a similar 12-megapixel f/1.8 lens. If last year’s Pixel is any indication, the rear snapper won’t disappoint. If you like to shoot video, both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have optical image stabilization for steadier footage.
Always on Display
Like the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL feature always-on displays that show you the time and notifications without requiring you to touch the screen. But Google’s phones are also always listening. Using Google Assistant, the handsets can automatically detect and identify songs playing around you and display the info.
If you’re not a fan of software skins and bloatware, the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will make you very happy. These phones pack the purest version possible of Google’s Android Oreo operating system, which means snappier performance, picture-in-picture for working on two apps at once and finer control over notifications. Even better, the latest Pixel phones come with three years of guaranteed software and security updates.
For Assistant to work in the best way possible, you need to give it access to everything you do. It needs your information, it needs your commands it needs to understand you. Google builds a profile on you and, at some point along the chain, that profiles allows Google to serve targetted adverts to you, which a huge aspect of its business.
So there are obvious privacy concerns here. Google, of course, isn’t the only company to do this. Silicone Valley relies on its ‘free’ products in order to profit from your activity (hint: you’re the product). The futuristic lifestyle these companies seemingly offer with their products come with a dark small print that you should read carefully.
There’s also a good chance that Google will struggle with stock, which could mean a lengthy wait for your pre-order to arrive.
Other than that, If you’re already familiar with last year’s effort, 2017’s design won’t really surprise you. The Pixel 2XL and its regular-sized alternative retain the Marmite-like two-tone design of their predecessors.
You’ll still find the small, circular fingerprint reader on the back, along with the volume rocker and power button on the left edge, with the solitary USB-C charging port on the bottom.
Like the regular-sized Pixel, the XL variant doesn’t come equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack, despite the grilling the firm gave Apple last year. I suggest investing in a good pair of Bluetooth headphones.
Likewise, the Pixel 2 is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 processor – the same chipset found in Samsung’s excellent Galaxy Note 8 and the OnePlus 5. Elsewhere, you’ll find 4GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of storage. Neither models are expandable via microSD
The Pixel 2 offers more when it comes to colours as this device can be picked up in Just Black, Clearly White and Kinda Blue. Meanwhile the larger XL only arrives in Just Black or Black and White.
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- (Offer) T-Mobile will pay you half your Google Pixel 2
- Why Google Ditched the 3.5mm Headphone Jack on the Pixel 2
- Google Pixel 2 can automatically enable do not disturb mode when you’re driving