Google’s back. Well, not like they went on vacation, but more precisely, Google’s back with their brand-new Pixel phones. The Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL was just announced earlier at the Google Pixel 2 event. And right off the bat, both smartphones look extremely awesome.
Right off the top: The Design
You’d hardly be guilty for being mistaking the new Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL to its predecessors, but where there are similarities, there are slight differences that make it stand out. The new pair of smartphones carries the rather unique design language over from the first Pixel phones, still sporting that two-tone back of a glass upper-half and an aluminium unibody lower-half.
The little touch of colour on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL’s power button is a nice addition too. It’s a very subtle way of showing that they still mean 'fun' in a phone that’s largely minimal in design. The orange button on the Pixel 2 XL stands out especially.
The Hardware and Specs
As per the usual operation of smartphone manufacturers these days, the Pixel 2 comes in two: The smaller Pixel 2 and the larger Pixel 2 XL, although it isn’t that much larger thanks to the smaller bezels. The smaller of the pair is manufactured by HTC and the larger one is manufactured by LG.
Right up front on the pair of phones is the display that Google seems to be proud of. Both Pixel 2 smartphones now sport an OLED display (5-inch on the Pixel 2, and 6-inch on the Pixel 2 XL) and it offers brilliant colours and true blacks (each pixel turns off when it has to show black).
Flanking those gorgeous display is something that comes and goes in the smartphone world: Front-firing stereo speakers! If we’ve got an excellent OLED display on the smartphones, it’s only logical we’ve got the proper stereo speakers as well. It’ll definitely make video watching even more enjoyable.
IP67 rating graces both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, which means that both phones are water resistant, which means it’ll take splashes and the occasional spill, but don’t dunk it.
As is usual in the smartphones of the flagship variety, both Pixel smartphones pack a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 that’s paired with 4GB of RAM and internal storage of either 64GB or 128GB. Check out the spec-sheet below:
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The camera on smartphones is a major factor these days. It will either make or break a smartphone’s success, what with the influx of social media stories and selfies. Stepping out from the current trend of having dual smartphones (that everyone from their neighbour to their cat seems to be adopting), Google opts for a single-lens 12.2-megapixel camera.
The camera uses a dual-pixel camera sensor, meaning that it uses two smaller pixels to make up a single pixel, which allows it to capture more light information efficiently. The Pixel 2s now has optical image stabilization (OIS) in addition to electronic image stabilization for both photo and video, which means that you’ll have to worry less about shaky hands and motion-bobbing.
The camera apertures are now also larger at f/1.8, so you’ll get a bit more of the delicious bokeh (blurring on the background in photographs). It’ll have incredibly fast autofocus as well, thanks to the laser autofocus, which will be complemented with advanced phase detection for the dual-pixel sensor.
The phones will also come with the necessary Portrait mode for the much-needed selfie. The front-facing 8-megapixel camera uses an algorithm of sorts to produce a nice bokeh on your selfies, making it look professional.
Outside of all that technical jumbo, will the camera be great to use in real-life? Check out Google’s sample images below and let us know in the comments.
The Software: Pure Stock Android OS
As it has been standard for all smartphones from Google, both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will sport a stock Android operating system. Both are loaded with the new Android 8.0 Oreo OS out of the box and will receive software and security updates for at least three years after.
The home screen has been slightly tweaked once again, now with the Google search button integrated with the dock (rather than at the top of the display below the notifications bar). Google has also taken a leaf out of HTC’s book by including what they call an “Active Edge”, where you squeeze the sides of the phones to launch the Google Assistant (like HTC’s U11 squeeze feature).
Another nifty feature is Google Lens. The feature is activated only through Google Assistant or the Google Photos app. What it’ll do is that it will recognize objects seen through the camera of the smartphone, such as identifying an iconic landmark or even a book. It’ll be a useful feature when we’re not quite sure on the choice of words to search on Google.
The Take-Away, Prices, and Singapore Release Dates
So who’s the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL for? Just about anyone, really. It’s got all the top-tier specs that everyone will want in a smartphone. For the mobile photographers and the selfie-lovers, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL doesn’t seem to shy away from light; and the excellent OLED display and front-firing speakers will make it the phone for media-lovers as well.
The phones won’t be cheap, however. It starts at USD $649 (SGD $885) for the Pixel 2 with 64GB storage, and goes all the way up to USD $949 (SGD $1294) for the Pixel 2 XL with 128GB of storage.
Release dates are still unknown at this point, but it seems like the smartphones will be launched in Singapore later this year. The previous Pixel smartphones were rather difficult to get last year, but let’s hope for the best.