After many leaks, Google took to the stage today to unveil their newest phones: the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Google focused very little on the specs and more on what the phones can do for you. Before we talk about that, let’s get the specs out of the way because we all want to know them. Not surprisingly they will be very similar to many of the other flagship phones from this year.
The Pixel 2 features a 5-inch, 16:9 ratio, 1080p AMOLED display using 2.5D Gorilla Glass 5, and including the always on display. Powering the Pixel 2 is a Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM, and a 2700mAh battery with either 64GB or 128GB of storage. The 12.2MP camera on the back uses a f/1.8 aperture and includes optical image stabilization along with electronic image stabilization. The rear-facing camera uses laser focus, dual pixel phase detection, and takes videos in up to 4K at 30fps. The front-facing camera is an 8MP shooter with an f/2.4 aperture and takes videos up to 1080p at 30fps. Some extra features include an Active Edge for squeeze controls, stereo front facing speakers, IP67 water and dust resistance, Bluetooth 5.0, and unfortunately no headphone jack this year. Of course coming directly from Google, you know it will be running the latest version of Android 8.0 Oreo as well.
Pixel 2 XL
The bigger brother Pixel 2 XL features a 6-inch 18:9 QHD OLED display using 3D Gorilla Glass 5 with the same always on display. It is powered by the Snapdragon 835 and 4GB of RAM, but features a larger 3520mAh battery, and comes with either 64GB or 128GB of storage. The rear-facing camera is the same 12.2MP with an f/1.8 aperture with optical and electronic stabilization, laser focus and dual pixel phase detection, and takes videos in up to 4K at 30fps. The front-facing camera is an 8MP shooter with an f/2.4 aperture and takes videos up to 1080p at 30fps. Extra features include stereo front facing speakers, Bluetooth 5.0, an Active Edge for squeeze controls, IP67 water and dust resistance, and unfortunately no headphone jack this year. It also goes without saying you’ll be running the latest version of Android 8.0 Oreo on the larger Pixel 2 XL as well.
AI + Software + Hardware
The mantra through the entire presentation was about what your phone can do for you and not what it’s made of or what the specs are. For instance, the always on display does more than show just the time and notifications. It features a music listening feature that will listen to music around you and display the title at the bottom of the always on display. Not only that, it also allows you to click on it and open up more information about the artist or song with Assistant.
Another great example was the fuzed video stabilization, which combines optical and electronic image stabilization in order to smooth out your videos better than ever before. Pixel users will also be the first to experience Google Lens. Now when you see a book, painting, movie poster, album cover, or a landmark you can just “lens it” as they said. Google Lens will bring up relevant information about whatever you show it, and the Lens icon will show up in Google Photos and Assistant soon. Google Lens also has character recognition, preventing you from needing to manually enter information on fliers or business cards such as phone numbers, addresses, and emails.
One way the hardware is working with the software on the Pixel phones is through the squeezable frame called Active Edge. With only a squeeze of your phone, you can easily bring up Assistant and ask it questions or give commands such as “take a selfie.”
A Camera that Does More
The camera has always been one of the strongest aspects of the Pixel and with a name like Pixel, it should be. The new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are no exception here, with a leading class DxOMark rating of 98. The camera on the new Pixel 2 phones has better dynamic range, color, and a couple of new tricks.
For starters, the new Pixel phones take advantage of AR Core, giving your camera some new Augmented Reality technology to play with. Using the camera app you will be able to use new AR Core enabled stickers. These are not static images that sit still on the screen. No these new stickers are interactive and move around in your environment and will even interact with each other. This was shown using the Stranger Things sticker pack, where Eleven battled a Demogorgon live on stage. It was nothing short of impressive to watch as these two generated characters fought on stage next to a Google employee. Google has already partnered with Disney, Star Wars, the NBA, and more to bring you exciting stickers in the future.
Over the past couple of years, portrait mode has become a popular feature for top of the line phones. It offers a way to simulate bokeh you see when using SLR cameras and a low f-stop that blurs out the background in your photos. This is typically done by using two cameras and combining a photo of the foreground and background. Google has used its AI learning technology to bring this to a single camera device and the Pixel phones. Since this is done entirely using software, you are no longer restricted to using portrait mode on only the rear-facing camera. Now you can add portrait mode to your selfies by using the front-facing camera as well.
As with the previous generation Pixel phones, Google includes free unlimited backups of all of your full resolution photos and videos. Not only is high-quality photography a priority at Google, but so is keeping it backed up. Having all of your photos in the clouds ensures you’ll never lose those precious memories. Plus, thanks to the auto-tagging features, those photos will be even easier to find with a quick simple search.
Availability and Pricing
Google’s brand new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL bring a lot to the table and if you’re looking to pick up one for yourself, you can start by pre-ordering today. The Pixel 2 comes in Kinda Blue, Just Black, and Clearly White, while the Pixel 2 XL only comes in Just Black or Black & White. They will be available in the US through Google’s redesigned store, Project Fi, Best Buy stores, or exclusively through Verizon. The pricing starts at $649 for the smaller Pixel 2 and $849 for the Pixel 2 XL for the 64GB options. The price quickly jumps up to $749 for the Pixel 2 and $949 for the Pixel 2 XL if you get the 128GB versions.
For a limited time with the purchase of a Pixel phone, Google is offering a free Google Home Mini. They also offer a wide selection of live cases that can be customized with a photo, Google Maps photo, or fabric cases to choose from.
Both phones are also available abroad in Australia, Canada, Germany, India and U.K with plans to bring the Pixel 2 XL to Italy, Singapore and Spain later this year.