Google’s new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL flagship phones offer upgraded specs and some smart new camera tech compared with the original phones. We’ve reviewed both new Pixels and here’s our in-depth comparison, so you know which is best for you.
The original Pixel phone is still a great device one year on, as you’ll know if you read our in-depth long-term review of Google’s handset. Likewise, we remain big fans of the super-sized Pixel XL, which boosted some of the standard handset’s specs as well as bumping the size, to 5.5-inches.
However, anyone looking for the latest mobile tech will want to check out the shiny new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, freshly launched this evening by Google. These smartphone sequels offer plenty of updates, including even better camera tech and – in the case of the XL model – a revamped design that’s reminiscent of the LG G6.
So what’s the difference between the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2? Here’s our full breakdown, to help you decide which expensive and shiny new phone might be your next purchase. You can also check out our in-depth Pixel 2 review and Pixel 2 XL review, to see more on these premium handsets.
Want an idea of how the new Pixels stack up against the competition? Head to our other versus features, comparing Google’s devices with the best rival mobiles out there.
Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel XL 2: Specs
|Phone||Google Pixel 2 XL||Google Pixel 2|
|OS||Android Oreo 8.0||Android Oreo 8.0|
|Processor||Snapdragon 835||Snapdragon 835|
Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL: Design
Nothing has really changed when it comes to the look and feel of the standard 5-inch Pixel handset. Like last year’s device, the Pixel 2 sports a metal frame with a bit of glossy glass plating on the rear side, a design that carries over to the new XL model as well.
However, while the Pixel 2 comes with quite chunky bezels again, the Pixel 2 XL borrows construction cues from the LG G6 and other handsets with a near edge-to-edge display. The result is a spacious 6-inch panel, packed into a frame that’s not too much larger than its sibling. In combination with its pleasing curves, compared with the brick-like construction of the standard Pixel 2, the bigger model is definitely the looker of the pair.
Of course, if ease of use is a key factor for you, the Pixel 2 is going to be more comfortable to play with one-handed. It’ll also slip into bags and pockets with ease, while the XL model is a bit bulkier.
Both of Google’s new phones are water resistant, so they can survive a tumble into fresh water. They’re also pretty rugged thanks to that metal frame and solid construction.
Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL: Screen and media
When it comes to the display tech, there’s once again a clear divide between Google’s new handsets.
The Pixel 2 offers up pretty much the same 5-inch AMOLED panel as last year’s handset, with Full HD visuals to keep things pleasingly crisp. You can expect deep blacks and a strong maximum brightness to aid with clarity, plus the Night Light feature which makes things easy on the eye come evening time. However, colour reproduction isn’t quite as vibrant as we’d have liked.
With the Pixel 2 XL, you’re getting a serious size boost: up to 6-inches, which makes this mobile better suited to anyone watching movies on the go (especially given the 18:9 aspect ratio). To keep things sharp, Google has also bumped up the resolution to Quad HD (2880×1440). And this time the screen stretches near to the very edges, filling all of that space admirably.
However, the XL model also suffers from a stange tinting effect. Colour temperature is rather cold and when you tilt the handset, everything turns an unsettling shade of blue. Like its smaller sibling, we’d have preferred more punchy visuals too.
Neither of these new phones feature a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you’ll need to use the bundled Type-C adapter if you want to stick with your wired set. Alternatively you can switch to Bluetooth ‘phones, to connect wirelessly.
Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL: Features and OS
Both new Pixel phones use Google’s own Android OS, as well you’d expect, with the latest version 8.0 – nicknmaed Oreo – on board. This offers a decent range of new features as well as smart resource management, although Google needs to polish up the user experience before we’ll be truly satisfied. Check out our Pixel 2 and 2 XL tips and tricks guide for more info.
The upshot is that there’s no difference between the new Pixels when it comes to the software side of things. Both the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 will also be supported by Google for the foreseeable future, with at least two years of Android updates guaranteed.
One of the new features found in this year’s Pixel sequels is the snazzy Active Edge sensor, which operates in much the same way as the Edge Sensor on the HTC U11. This allows you to squeeze either smartphone to open the Google Assistant, as a nifty little shortcut. This squeeze sensor can be found on either model, so your choice doesn’t matter. Sadly, the action can’t be remapped to another app on either phone, if you don’t bother using the voice assistant.
Each of the new Pixels comes with the same storage options as well. You get 64GB as standard, with the base models of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, with the option to upgrade to a mighty 128GB if desired. Just as well, as there’s no microSD memory card support; although thankfully you can boost the Pixel’s storage space in other ways.
Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL: Performance and battery
No matter your choice of shiny new Google handset, you’re guaranteed slick performance. Qualcomm’s powerful Snapdragon 835 platform is a smooth runner, backed in both cases by 4GB of RAM. That’s enough smart tech to run any apps or games right now, while the likes of resource-hungry Daydream VR games won’t cause the Pixels to sweat.
Plus, the Snapdragon 835 chipset offers other benefits such as support for up to 1Gbps download speeds, which will be much appreciated when the UK mobile networks offer improved connectivity.
When it comes to battery tech, the Pixel 2 XL packs a much larger cell compared with the smaller model (3450mAh vs 2700mAh). All the same, either new Pixel 2 handset will last well into a second day after a full charge, even with a fair bit of use. The Pixel 2 XL is slightly better, but there’s really not much in it.
You also get quick charge support from the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 as well, for those frantic moments before leaving the house when you realise your phone’s close to dead. This works well on both blowers, although there’s no support for wireless charging.
Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL: Cameras
The original Pixel phones sported the same camera tech, and it’s no change for the latest releases. Both the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 deliver a 12.2-megapixel rear camera with f/1.8 aperture lens, as well as an 8-megapixel front-facer.
DxOMark scored the new Pixel cameras an impressive 98, thanks in part to its improved HDR+ mode, and it’s easy to see why. This allows you to take great shots even in high contrast situations, packing loads of detail into every frame. You get a new Portrait mode, to add background blur on demand using either the front or rear cameras, and this too works wonderfully.
You can also record up to 4K resolution video, with combined OIS and EIS functionality to cut down judders when moving around. Sadly these handsets max out at 30 frames-per-second and we noticed some audio issues when recording outside.
Check out our in-depth Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL camera review for all you need to know.