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Pixel 2 Reviews: Iterative Update Lacks 'Wow Factor' But Still 'Best Android Phone You Can Buy'

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Two weeks after first unveiling the Pixel 2 at an event in San Francisco, reviews of Google's latest smartphone have now been published online. Many of the reviews written on the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL are positive, with multiple articles referring to the smartphones as the best Android devices on the market, as well as legitimate competitors to Apple's iPhone series. The only slight negatives appear to surround Google's decision to aim for functional, more iterative updates over flashier feature additions.

Like most reviews posted today, The Verge was more impressed by the design and look of the Pixel 2 XL than the smaller Pixel 2, calling the latter phone "humdrum" with "big, chunky bezels" that don't compare favorably to the XL's smaller bezels and larger 6-inch screen. The site noted that each device's Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 4GB of RAM resulted in a snappy UI, running "better overall than Samsung's or LG's" version of Android.



The Verge described an all-day battery life that "lasts until bedtime just fine," and said that the Pixel 2 is "easily a contender for best smartphone camera" with photos that are "way sharper than the iPhone 8 and the Note 8." Although the site had qualms with the 2 XL's display quality -- calling colors "muted" -- the overall takeaway came down to being impressed by the smartphone's snappy functionality, despite a lack of "razzle dazzle."
The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL do not razzle dazzle. It's not just the somewhat disappointing screen on the Pixel 2 XL, it's that Google has gone out of its way to do things that are functional instead of flashy. Instead of going bezel-less, it added front-facing speakers. Instead of a million camera effects, it focused on one or two, while making the core camera experience much better with machine learning. The list goes on.

The Pixel 2 has many, many things going for it. Were it not for a few problems -- the screen, the slightly inelegant design, and (yes) the lack of a headphone jack -- it might have received the highest score we've ever given a phone. As it is, it's a great phone, but not quite a home run.
TechCrunch compared the second iteration of the Pixel line -- focusing its review on the Pixel 2 XL -- to an "S" generation of the iPhone, meaning that the Pixel 2 is an "evolution" of a smartphone that was already solid, but lacks a central "wow factor." Still, the site was impressed by what Google accomplished with a single-lens camera system, describing "admirable" performance in low- and mixed-light settings, and mostly positive early impressions from Google's AI-powered "Lens" feature, which automatically tags objects in pictures.



Even though the Pixel 2 XL runs for upwards of $800, TechCrunch ultimately stated that Google's smartphone shows "what can be done without having to charge users $1,000 for a device."
The Pixel 2 doesn't make a particularly compelling upgrade case for users of last year's model. The hardware isn't a radical departure, and many of the new software features will be coming to the first-generation model -- after all, Android support for older devices is one of the key tenants of Google's first-party software approach. The device also doesn't push the boundaries of what a mobile device is as much as other recent flagships.

The new phones offer a glimpse at that future and, in the case of the device's camera, show what can be done without having to charge users $1,000 for a device.
Ars Technica looked at the performance of the Pixel 2, calling Google's build of Android for the new smartphones "the most highly optimized, smoothest, and fastest build of Android I have ever seen." Although the site had similar problems with the OLED display as The Verge -- Ars called it "an ugly graniness" most detectable in dark environments -- and the "dated aesthetic" of the 5-inch Pixel 2, its final impression was that Google's new smartphone is "the best Android phone out there."

The Pixel XL, Pixel 2 XL, and iPhone 8 Plus via Ars Technica

Every single animation goes off without a hitch. Scrolling is flawless. There are additional, exclusive animations on the home screen like bounce scrolling and folder opening that add to the buttery smooth feel. It's amazing--head and shoulders above every other Android phone out there.

With the Pixel, you get an iPhone-like update experience, a cohesive software package, and super fast UI performance. It offers a harmonious device with a single, cohesive design language and none of the junk that slows your phone down. In 2017, that's enough to merit the title of "Best Android phone."
Interestingly, Ars Technica also pointed out that the Pixel 2 marks Google's first foray into its own custom designed system on a chip (SoC), packed into the smartphone in addition to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC. Although not active yet, the chip is said to be "dedicated exclusively to camera image processing" on the Pixel 2, and will eventually make processing photos "faster and more efficient than ever." Google calls the SoC the "Pixel Visual Core," and it includes an eight-core Image Processing Unit capable of more than three trillion operations per second.

For more Pixel 2 reviews, check out the following sites: CNET, Business Insider, Engadget, TIME, Wired, ZDNet, CNN Tech, and Venture Beat.

Article Link: Pixel 2 Reviews: Iterative Update Lacks 'Wow Factor' But Still 'Best Android Phone You Can Buy'
 

drewyboy

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Jan 27, 2005
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So in other words, if you have to have the shiniest thing, the Pixel line is not it. If you want one of the best cameras, it sounds like the Pixel 2 is the one to get.

This is exactly what I'm looking for. Camera is my #1 priority for a smartphone. So far, everything I've seen is Pixel 2 handily beats iPhone 8.
 
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drewyboy

macrumors 65816
Jan 27, 2005
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This is kind of what I figured, but I just can't get behind the design. Already outdated.

Function over fashion any day of the week. Apple could learn a thing or two, especially on the MPB line from others.
[doublepost=1508252270][/doublepost]
I want the iPhone to have the best camera.

Too bad that you have to upgrade to the top of the line to have it. I applaud Google's approach. Same hardware across the line, you just pick the size of the phone you want.
 
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macs4nw

macrumors 601
So in other words, if you have to have the shiniest thing, the Pixel line is not it. If you want one of the best cameras, it sounds like the Pixel 2 is the one to get.....
My take-away of the reviewers is that as the devices get better and better, the expectations for them seem to outpace the offerings. Relatively speaking, with a solid camera, the 2XL seems decent value-for-money.
 
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BriSpe

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Aug 25, 2010
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So in other words, if you have to have the shiniest thing, the Pixel line is not it. If you want one of the best cameras, it sounds like the Pixel 2 is the one to get.

This is exactly what I'm looking for. Camera is my #1 priority for a smartphone. So far, everything I've seen is Pixel 2 handily beats iPhone 8.

If this is your priority than don't look at some numbers and look at pictures taken with both devices and compare them. iPhone 8+ pictures easily beat the P2 pictures. Of course mostly it's a matter of taste but I find iPhone pics also sharper
 
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BruceEBonus

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Sep 23, 2007
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Derbyshire, England
It also has reduced it's features like Apple by removing the headphone jack and for many Samsung is the default Android maker. However Huwaei seem to be gaining ground as even the diehard Samsung fans realise that value for money must also overrule so called loyalty. It's not just Apple who have to worry about the world waking up to this and cannot keep relying on their past glory to get them through. I need a new phone. But I will wait til early November when the X cones out. The Note 8 is the superior model and is £870. If it comes down further after this I may just go for it of it drops below the £800 mark. Even though most will automatically rule ou t the X for £1000 even £800 is a lot for a mobile phone.
 
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convergent

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May 6, 2008
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Seems like a decent phone, but unless Google greatly changes their market approach, it will continue to be a niche player.
 
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Razeus

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Jul 11, 2008
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The Pixel 2 XL looks decent, but not sure what the heck they were thinking on the smaller Pixel 2. Especially at that price.
 
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DNichter

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Apr 27, 2015
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Function over fashion any day of the week. Apple could learn a thing or two, especially on the MPB line from others.
[doublepost=1508252270][/doublepost]

Too bad that you have to upgrade to the top of the line to have it. I applaud Google's approach. Same hardware across the line, you just pick the size of the phone you want.

The iPhone is both fashionable and functional. I am assuming the MBP is because of the Touch Bar? I don't see that limiting function in any way, but alright.
 
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kuwxman

macrumors 6502a
Jul 25, 2009
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Olathe, KS
Or can't buy, because Google is terrible at making and selling these things.
Truth. I've been on the wait list since the pre-order date and have heard nothing. Every single Nexus and now Pixel release has been a failure in terms on having available stock. You would think they would learn but nope.

That and their exclusivity BS with Verizon. The phone can be purchased on the Play Store just fine with financing, but to REALLY sell these they need to be available in carrier's stores too.
 
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gnipgnop

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Feb 18, 2009
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That "way sharper than iPhone 8 or Note 8" photos comment and the fact that Google has a dedicated SoC for the camera makes me wonder if the sharpness is digitally applied and not from optics.
 
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tkukoc

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Sep 16, 2014
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Can use the same title for iPhone X... of course no one will because it's Apple.
 
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Kiro

macrumors member
Sep 15, 2015
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Function over fashion any day of the week. Apple could learn a thing or two, especially on the MPB line from others.
[doublepost=1508252270][/doublepost]

Too bad that you have to upgrade to the top of the line to have it. I applaud Google's approach. Same hardware across the line, you just pick the size of the phone you want.

Google fooled you well. Just compare the hardware specs of pixel 2 and pixel 2 xl. There are quite some differences for the screen (apart from the obvious schreensize).

But like you said, the approach itself is quite humble.
 
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