Google Pixel 2 XL Review | A flagship Android phone that wants to take on the iPhone X and Galaxy S8.

Black and White - Back and Front

EDITOR’S REVIEW

Google Pixel 2 XL 64GB

S$ 1298 at Lazada.sg 

PERFORMANCE Excellent performance, Long battery life, Truly impressive camera, Water resistant, Android 8.0 is powerful and fast

USING IT Easy to use, easy to setup, and very responsive.

TECHNOLOGY : Pure Android 8.0 without the bloatware

VERDICT : Despite losing the cherished 3.5mm headphone jack, the Pixel 2 XL makes up for it with a mix of unique and sought-after features like a stellar design, waterproofing, Active Edge and a truly impressive camera.

RATING: 8/10

 

Expectations were high for the second-generation Pixel phones, and Google hasn’t disappointed. This year’s flagship – the 2 XL – is better in almost every way, but it does come at a higher price.

With its 6in screen, this isn’t a small phone. But thanks to minimal screen bezels it isn’t as big as you might imagine.

It feels exceptionally well made, and although it’s tall, it’s not too wide to comfortably hold in one hand and not top heavy. The aluminium has a rough texture and feels good to the touch. It also means it doesn’t get covered in fingerprints.

At 175g, it’s the same weight as the new iPhone X which has a marginally smaller screen at 5.8in. It’s roughly the same thickness, but taller because of bigger top and bottom bezels.

Of course, there’s no notch and as a bonus, there are front-facing stereo speakers. These sound great and are ideal for watching YouTube videos or playing games. They don’t have much bass, but they’re loud.

 

What we like about the Google Pixel 2 XL

Device Setup

The quickest way to get most of your data transferred from your old Android phone or iPhone is by using the Quick Switch Adapter (included in the box). Once you initiate the transfer you can proceed with setting  up your Pixel while that transfer is happening in the background.

Lockscreen, Launcher and Homescreen

● Always on Display: With just a glance, you can always see the time and date as well as icons for your notifications. If a notification comes in, it will show up for a few seconds before collapsing into the notification icon.

● Now Playing: If you want to know what song is playing, just look at your Pixel to see what it is. The song title and artist of music playing around you will appear on your Always on Display. Double tap on the song to go to the Assistant, where you can learn more about it, watch the video on YouTube, or save the song for later so you can listen to it again from your favorite music app. This is done locally on your Pixel itself, and only for music, so no audio information gets sent to Google. You can even use the feature in airplane mode. The database of songs gets updated weekly.
○ Now Playing can be enabled in Settings>Sound>Advanced>Now Playing
○ Subscriptions are required for Spotify. Link your accounts to the Assistant to use them with Now Playing.

● The At-a-Glance space at the top of your home screen lets you easily see the latest updates on the most important parts of your day — the weather, upcoming calendar events, and more coming soon. Tap on any item in the At-a-Glance space to get more detail.

● The quick search bar is located at the bottom of the home screen. You can use it to search the web as well as some content on your phone. Try typing a few letters like “ca” and you’ll see suggested searches, as well as matches from your phone like contacts and apps. You can even drag out app icons from the list of matching apps if you want to add them to your home screen.

● Notification dots let you know if you have an unread email or text, or a new shared album in Google Photos. Try long pressing an icon with a dot to see the notification in context. You can even dismiss the notification from there.

● App shortcuts: Long pressing on an app icon will also bring up app shortcuts. For example, long press the camera icon to invoke “Take a selfie” or “Take a video” or the Calendar icon to invoke “New event” or “New reminder.” You can also long press on a shortcut and drag it directly onto your home screen.

● Picture-in-picture makes it easy for you to do two things at once like check your email while video calling with Duo, or navigating with Google Maps

● YouTube full screen: When you go full screen in YouTube on the Pixel XL, you can pinch outwards to allow the content to expand to fill the entire 18:9 screen for a beautiful immersive experience with no black bars on 16:9 videos.

 

Camera

● Low light photos and videos: Great capturing of photo using the default settings.

MVIMG_20171227_205839

 

● Portrait Mode delivers high-quality bokeh effects: Click on the hamburger menu; select Portrait and take a photo of a person or small object. The bokeh effect works best when the background is a good distance behind the person or object, just as with an SLR. You can also get bokeh effects when taking selfies with the front-facing camera!

Example in the photo below, the menu at the back of the crab leg are blurred while the front object is sharp

MVIMG_20171227_194425.jpg

 

 

● Fused video stabilization combines optical and electronic image stabilization to give you steady video without a fancy rig.
○ Switch camera to video mode by tapping the video mode button next to the shutter button
○ Open the hamburger menu, then select Settings and choose any resolution including 4K@30fps and 1080p@60fps
○ Take a video while walking or shaking to try video stabilization. The preview is stabilized lightly and equally in all modes including 4K. You’ll need to review the final video to see the results.

● Motion photos captures a few seconds of video with each shot. It’s set to auto mode so when you view one of the photos you took on Pixel 2, just toggle the button in the top right and you’ll see the video as well as the image. This feature is powered by a combination of Pixel’s fused video stabilization and also Motion Stills stabilization for incredibly smooth playback.

MVIMG_20171228_171908

● Pro controls:
○ Focus and Exposure lock: Tap the viewfinder, then tap the lock icon that appears in the upper right.

○ Exposure Compensation: tap the viewfinder (especially on your subject) and then drag up or down anywhere on viewfinder.

MVIMG_20171228_171754

● Camera filmstrip: In Pixel 2 the camera filmstrip is powered by Google Photos. Just hit the round thumbnail in the bottom right and edit or share right from the Photos app.

 

● Face retouching: Google worked with professional photographers to develop a face retouching feature that helps get rid of today’s blotches, pimples, or scratches, so you look the best you can — but still just like you.

● AR Stickers: Take photos and videos with interactive AR stickers built right into your Pixel 2 camera. You’ll be able to add your favorite characters to your photos and videos, express yourself with playful emojis and set the scene for your very own stories.

Moves

● Open camera app: Just press the power button twice. This is the fastest way to open the camera.

● Flip camera: Open the camera app and then double twist the device to swap between front-facing and rear-facing camera. Snap a selfie!

● Notifications: Swipe down on the fingerprint sensor to bring down notifications.

Google Lens

● Google Lens: Google has introduced a preview of Google Lens, just for Pixel users, in Google Photos. Right now, Lens can recognize places like landmarks and buildings, artwork that you’d find in a museum, media covers such as books, movies, music albums, and video games and help you read and take action on text like emails, phone numbers and urls. It makes it easier to search the things you come across and learn more about what’s in your photos. It’ll come to Google Assistant.

● To try Google Lens in Google Photos, just take a photo, view it in the filmstrip or Photos and then tap the Lens icon. Or, open Google Photos and try Lens on your existing photos of landmarks, books, and posters.

 

Google Assistant

● With Active Edge, you have a new easy way to get help from your Assistant: in addition to saying “Ok Google” or long-pressing on the Home button, you can now just squeeze the sides of your phone to get started with your Google Assistant. This works even if you keep your phone in a case.
○ You can adjust Active Edge sensitivity when you first activate the feature (the first time you squeeze), or by telling the Assistant to “Increase Active Edge sensitivity”, you can also always find it in settings under “Active Edge”.
○ If you want to to say “Ok Google” you’ll need to train the phone to recognize your voice if you didn’t do it during setup.

● Your Google Assistant is the easiest and fastest way to get things done. You can ask it things like:
○ Turn on my hotspot or Turn on Flight Mode
○ “Tell me about my day” and you’ll hear a helpful summary about your day: what’s the weather, how long your commute will take, when your first meetings starts and more.
○ Set an alarm for 7am tomorrow
○ Take a selfie
○ Text my Mom saying I’m going to be five minutes late

● And the best thing? Google Assistant is available in Singaporean English.

Smart Storage

● Smart Storage will automatically clear older photos and videos that have already been backed up when your device is full. This setting can be found in Settings > Storage > Smart storage. Tap on Smart Storage to configure how many days of original quality photos to keep on the device (the default is 60 days). To try this, you’ll need to use your Pixel for a while and fill it up with a lot of content!

● Free up space manually by going to Settings > Storage and hit the “Free up space” button to find items to remove.
This includes finding items in your Downloads folder and apps that haven’t been used recently. Or ask your Assistant to free up space

 

Content

● Download the Spotlight Stories app on Google Play for exclusive Pixel content. Google Spotlight Stories is the Oscar nominated and Emmy award-winning platform for immersive storytelling and storytellers.

● Spotlight’s latest short film, Son of Jaguar, from the creator and director of Book of Life, Jorge Gutierrez, will be available exclusively on Pixel 2. It’s a story of a wrestler in the most important match of his life, the once mighty masked luchador faces his legacy, his family, and what it means to be part of something bigger than himself.

● These Spotlight Stories can be viewed in mobile 360, with Cardboard, or Daydream, and push the boundaries of what can be achieved visually and sonically on the Pixel 2.

 

Phone & Messages

● Spam protection lets you see warnings about potential spam callers and report suspicious calls. You will see the spam warning screen when you get calls from telemarketers, fraudsters and spammers.

● Business Caller ID and local business search — longtime favorites of our users, these two features use Google’s vast Maps corpus to let you know who’s calling before you pick up and to quickly find businesses right in the Phone app. Experience it by dialing a number of a restaurant or store (e.g. IKEA at (65) 6786 6868) and the name of the business will appear on your screen. Similarly, you can type the name of a business into the search box at the top of the dialer screen and google will lookup the phone number and dial for you. Try searching for a local restaurant (e.g. New Ubin Seafood).

● Call blocking lets you block numbers at the Android OS level, preventing unwanted calls and text messages based on one integrated block list. In your call log use the “Block/report spam” option

● Duo integration in phone dialer lets you to start a video call right from your dialer, contacts list or upgrade an existing audio call to a video call. Regardless if the user you are calling is on an Android or iOS
○ You have to register for Duo to be able to make Duo calls from the dialer

 

Accessories (and Bluetooth)

● Fast pair aims to solve one of the most frustrating features of accessories: pairing! When a compatible set of earphones are turned on and near the PIxel 2, the phone will detect them and show a notification with the name and image of the earphone. With a single tap on the notification, pairing is done between the headphones and the phone. As a last step you can directly download the app for the headphones to control features and learn more.
● Google includes a UBC-C to 3.5mm adapter for those who prefer to use their existing 3.5mm headsets.

● Made for Google products will feature a badge on the packaging so you know they’ve been certified to meet Google’s compatibility requirements.

 

Wallpaper

● Pixel 2 features 4 collections of exclusive wallpapers. To view the full set, long press on your homescreen and select Wallpapers.
○ Living universe sources beautiful imagery from Google Earth. Look carefully and you may find a few easter eggs hidden in earth’s majestic gems! Also in this collection is the Your whirled collection which features an ever evolving art piece created from local wind patterns in your location.
○ Come alive is all about you and what you do with your Pixel 2. Create your own art with Gooey or get moving and see how your Pixel 2 glimmers as you’re on the go.
○ Come and play and In the shadows are two static wallpaper collections that add even more diversity to the offerings.

 

Do give this phone a try, you will like the speed and camera features.

 

 

 

 

 

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