Apple and Samsung have dominated the smartphone market for quite some time offering consumers premium flagship devices each year. To say Google is a dark horse competitor would be somewhat of an understatement.
With the launch of the Pixel 2 XL, Google has shaken the playing field by capitalizing on its pure software approach offering intrigue to both Apple and Samsung loyalists. The Pixel 2 XL is simply not just a great alternative, but a great rival.
As a Samsung consumer for over six years, the Galaxy line has continued to push the envelope offering aesthetic innovation with curved displays to useful multi-tasking functionality with the Note series. These are staples that make Samsung great, yet dull in the long run.
The Pixel 2 XL works around this sentiment by pushing clean performance with a pure Android experience. Similar, to what Apple has done with the iPhone, the Pixel 2 XL is a phone that measures to the very strengths of its company with amazing AI & software mechanics.
Having owned the device for two months, here are three reasons that make the Pixel 2 XL a great smartphone to buy.
1. True Android – The Pixel 2 XL is a device that runs Google’s stock Android operating system, meaning owners get faster and newer updates first compared to other companies like Samsung and LG. These companies typically layer their own version of Android, known as a “launcher’ which weaken the longevity of the phones performance. The Pixel 2 XL performs extremely well with stock Android allowing multiple apps to run at once without lag. Battery life is great, you literally get up to 18 hours with moderate use. At 15% battery life, it takes about 40 minutes to charge getting you back to 80%.
2. Camera – The biggest draw with this device for me was the camera. The Pixel 2 XL has a fantastic camera that captures amazing pictures. With a 12.2-megapixel single rear camera, Google offers HDR shots that produce a more naturalistic look and feel. The camera performs extremely well shooting in bright and low light situations. With an 8-megapixel front facing camera, Google manages to produce impressive portrait shots by maximizing its software mechanics. Subjects get isolated very well from the background with little to no overlap. Video quality is good too, you can shoot 4K at 30 frames per second and FULL HD at 60 frames per second.
3. Google Assistant – “OK Google” you have finally made AI worthy of a conversation. Although the Google Assistant can be found in most Android phones, the Pixel 2 XL manages to integrate the Assistant with a squeeze feature called “Active Edge”. This feature allows you to interact with the Google Assistant without shouting “OK Google” and it is extremely effective. I found myself using the Google Assistant more than ever with this feature for checking the weather, setting timers, changing Spotify playlists, to simply Googling something without typing in Chrome. The Pixel 2 XL does a great job of enabling you to use the Assistant for practical utility around apps like Gmail, Calendar, Messages, and Maps.
By no means is the Pixel 2 XL a flawless device. The Pixel 2 XL has garnered some extreme criticism surrounding its POLED screen and lack of a headphone jack.
The screen’s color is not as saturated as Samsung’s Note 8/S8 or Apple’s iPhone X, which is a little disappointing. Also, if you do not own wireless headphones be prepared to buy some. The Pixel 2 XL does come with a headphone jack adapter, but it's more of a hassle than a fix.
If you can get past these things, then I highly recommend you check out a local Best Buy or watch a quick YouTube unboxing video. Starting at $850, Google has produced a great phone that can compete with Samsung and Apple.