There’s been a lot of buzz around the Pixel line, which is usual for a Google-branded product. From the hype surrounding the device before the launch to the flood of negatives that have followed the release, the Pixel has been a polarizing subject in the world of smartphones this year and especially the larger, second-generation XL variant. Verizon was nice enough to send me a review unit to play around with and after a week I have a few thoughts on my initial reactions.
Feels kinda cheap
This whole process is very subjective, and opinions will vary, but this new “powder coat” over the exterior of the phone was a negative for me. It makes the phone seem plastic when it’s actually an aluminum device. The phone is super light and this may contribute to the result, but it just feels less premium than other phones I have in-house like the Essential and the LG V30. It’s almost like it has a hollowness about it. I noticed it less and less in my week with the phone, but it’s definitely worth noting.
It’s a huge phone
In the day where phones are getting smaller and smaller while keeping a large screen size, the Pixel 2 XL feels dated and oversized. It’s a huge phone. There’s no other way around it. Google has trimmed the bezels on the sides, but the phone is really tall in comparison to the competition. Reaching for anything across the width or height of the phone is almost impossible. But, at least this results in a function over form tradeoff that I’m OK with…stereo speakers! This larger size at least offers some really good stereo front-firing speakers on both the top and bottom of the phone.
Better than expected battery life
One of my top needs out of a phone is battery life. I have long been a fan of Moto’s lineup mostly for this reason. After the results from last years XL, I was very hesitant on what I would see out of this year’s refresh, but I have been pleasantly surprised. I am consistently getting through my day with plenty to spare to cover my evening routine without issue. I’ve been turning out the nightstand light for some shut-eye with at least 20% left with 4-5 hours of screen time.
I’m not a photo buff by any means, but the Pixel 2 XL is hands-down the best smartphone camera I’ve ever used. I haven’t had any issues with this shooter taking really great photos every time. I’m not the user that takes his time to get the perfect photo. I simply want a camera that works and I can take shots without having to think about it at all, and the 2 XL is superb. It’s fast as hell and Google has done an amazing job of processing what the lens is pulling into the software side of things.
I don’t really miss the headphone jack
This was the biggest surprise of all in my short time with the Pixel 2 XL. I’m still a protester of removing it without an alternative universal standard, but after really surveying my normal usage of my phones I’ve found that I rarely used the 3.5mm jack anyways. I use my Moto Hint+ almost exclusively to listen to audio and place calls while at the house, and it fits seamlessly into the wireless future of the Pixel 2 XL. The only time I will honestly miss the headphone jack may be while traveling. I like to have a wired connection to limit the number of devices I need to charge while on the go, but I picked up a cheap set of USB-C headphones to cover this need.
More to come
I really didn’t know how’d I’d feel about the 2 XL after all the media coverage around the interwebs, but I’ve come away with the opinion that the phone has more positives than negatives. If you’re a fan of a large form factor and want the latest software you may be in luck. Stay tuned to the site, and our socials, for our official reviews in the next few weeks!