As expected, Google has introduced its 2017 flagship smartphones, the Pixel 2 and its larger version, the Pixel 2 XL. Featuring all aluminium bodies and OLED displays, the Pixel 2 smartphones unlock an amazing array of new Google technologies.
Google claims that the Pixel 2 are the perfect combination of hardware, software, and artificial intelligence. Let’s start with the hardware. The Pixel 2 is the smaller of the two, with a 5-inch Full HD OLED display. The larger Pixel 2 XL, on the other hand, feature the new 18:9 aspect ratio and a 6-inch panel with a QHD+ (2880 x 1440) resolution.
Both smartphones have an all-aluminium body, save for the top of the back area – it’s made from a gently-curved coloured glass. The fingerprint sensor is still located at the rear, while the top and bottom of the display feature stereo speakers. There is, however, no 3.5mm audio jack. As for the internals, they’re similar to most 2017 flagship phones: Snapdragon 835 processors, 4GB RAM, and a choice of 64GB or 128GB of storage. Both phones are rated IP67 for dust and water resistance.
As smartphones made by Google, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will run on pure Android Oreo. On the Pixel phones, they feature a new home screen, with a persistent search box – Google says this change was to make search easier to reach (instead of being near the top of the screen). There is also a new Always On Display, which takes advantage of the inherent properties of OLED displays.
On top of that, Google is introducing a new way to summon Google Assistant on the Pixel 2 smartphones: Active Edge. Essentially, it’s the same feature on the HTC U11, allowing users to squeeze the sides of the phone to perform an action on the phone. Google says that Active Edge will still work even when there’s a case on.
And then there’s the main feature of the Pixel 2 that really unlocks Google’s unparalleled prowess in artificial intelligence and machine learning: the cameras. Both Pixel 2 smartphones feature a 12.2MP f/1.8 rear camera with OIS. It uses dual-pixel technology that allows for faster autofocus, and, using its computational photography algorithms, allow for a Portrait Mode despite not having a second sensor. Portrait Mode is even available for the 8MP front camera, too.
The Pixel 2 camera impressed DX0mark so much, it got a near-perfect score of 98.
And, just like last year, Google is offering unlimited storage on Google Photos for all images captured with the Pixel 2 smartphones. According to Google, last year’s Pixel users saved up a massive average of 23GB in photos and videos in a year, so having unlimited storage is a big plus.
The rear camera is also used for another of Google’s interesting new features: Google Lens. It is similar to what Samsung envisioned with its Bixby Vision feature on the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 smartphones, but with the power of Google’s knowledge graph, this may just work as Samsung wished Bixby Vision could.
When activated, Google Lens will be able to provide contextual information based on what the user is showing on the camera. If the user points the camera at a famous landmark, Google Lens can bring up useful information about the location; the same goes for other things as well – it appears to be Google Image Search on steroids. It can also scan email addresses.
The Google Pixel 2 will be available in three colours: Just Black, Clearly White, and Kinda Blue, while the Pixel 2 XL will come only in two colours: Just Black, and Black and White. The Pixel 2 will be priced from $649 (about RM2,740) and $749 (about RM3,170) for the 64GB and 128GB respectively, while the Pixel 2 XL will retail for $849 (about RM3,590) for the 64GB model and $949 (about RM4,010) for the 128GB variant. Both will be available in slightly more countries globally than the original Pixel, and will start shipping from 17 October.