Google has officially announced its new Pixel smartphones, as well as a whole slate of other devices, and there’s certainly a lot to be excited about. The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL look like worthy successors to 2016’s Pixel devices, and just like last year, most of the differences between the smaller and larger variant are cosmetic.
That being said, in a smartphone market otherwise saturated with premium-tier flagship smartphones that are all worth buying, how does the Pixel 2 compare to some of its fellow competitors?
All in all, quite well actually.
It’s not the size that counts
I think it’s safe to say that 2017 was the year that major device manufacturers started doing away with noticeable top and bottom bezels. However, that’s not a design progression that Google took to heart with its Pixel 2 smartphone. Luckily, no one told HTC or Apple that nearly bezel-less devices are in this year. The Pixel 2, HTC U11 and iPhone 8 all feature noticeable top and bottom bezels. As such, of these four devices, the Essential Phone is the only one that is defined by its bezel-less aesthetic.
It’s also important to note that the Pixel 2’s screen is undeniably on the smaller side. The Pixel 2’s 5-inch Full HD display is larger than the iPhone 8’s 4.7-inch screen, but it’s still smaller than the U11’s 5.5-inch screen and the Essential Phone’s screen. We’ll need to spend a little bit more time with the Pixel 2 to determine how bright and colour-accurate its screen really is, but suffice it to say, between the Essential Phone, iPhone 8 and HTC U11, competition is definitely tight.
Turn the devices over, and you’ll notice that the Pixel 2 is certainly among friends with its single camera lens. Of these four devices, the Essential Phone is the only one with a dual-camera setup, but a lack of a second rear-facing camera might not necessarily be a nail in the Pixel 2’s coffin.
MobileSyrup‘s Igor Bonifacic has written extensively about the Essential Phone’s less-than-exemplary cameras; MobileSyrup‘s Dean Daley praised the U11’s single rear-facing camera; and MobileSyrup‘s Patrick O’Rourke commended the iPhone 8 for its camera, even though it too only has one rear-facing camera.
Additionally, Google boasted about the Pixel 2’s DxOMark score of 98, so there’s no doubt that the Pixel 2 — just like its 2016 predecessor — will pack a wallop where its camera is concerned. Once again, we’ll need to spend more time with the Pixel 2 before we’re ready to make a definitive statement on its camera quality.
Modern inner beauty
While the Pixel’s large forehead and chin might date its design, the phone’s internal specs are undeniably modern. The phone comes with 4GB of RAM, either 64GB or 128GB or internal storage, as well as a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 to power the whole device. There’s also a 2,700mAh that Google claims will get you all-day use out of the phone.
In contrast, the iPhone 8 comes with 2GB of RAM, the Essential Phone has 4GB of Ram and the HTC U11 features 6GB of RAM. The Pixel 2’s battery is also definitely mid-range, in comparison. The iPhone 8 has a 1,821mAh battery, while the U11 packs 3,000mAh and the Essential Phone comes with 3,040mAh. Just like the screen, we’ll need to spend more time with the Pixel 2 to determine how long it lasts, as well as how powerful it really is.
At this point, complaining about a missing headphone jack is a bit like screaming into a silent void, but I’m going to point it out nonetheless. Just like the iPhone 8, the Essential Phone and the HTC U11, the Pixel 2 is missing a headphone jack.
Otherwise, the Pixel 2 is IP67 water and dust resistant. like the U11 and the iPhone 8, but unlike the Essential Phone, which isn’t IP rated at all.
Finally, the Pixel 2 takes a feature first introduced in the HTC U11: squeeze-to-activate. Similar to Edge Sense, Pixel 2 users can squeeze the phone to trigger ‘Active Edge.’ As of right now, Google says that Active Edge only really works with the Google Assistant. We’ll have to wait and see whether more apps will work with Active Edge.