- Truly amazing camera
- The best version of Android
- Nice display
- Boring design
- Huge bezel
- Review Price: £629
- 5-inch 1080p display
- Android 8.0 Oreo
- Snapdragon 835
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB storage
- 12-megapixel camera
- 9-megapixel selfie camera
- Active Edge
Editors Note: We’ve updated this review to reflect how the Pixel 2 compares to current generation phones and has survived long-term use. These include updates detailing how it stacks up to key rivals, like the Galaxy S9, iPhone X and OnePlus 6.
What is the Google Pixel 2?
The Pixel 2 is the smaller smartphone in Google’s current line-up, sitting below the named Pixel 2 XL.
10 months on from its original launch, the Pixel 2 has stood the test of time well and is still one of the best small-form-factor Android phones around. Despite being more expensive we’d still recommend it over Apple’s dinky iPhone SE.
However, with the fabled Pixel 3 rumoured to be debuting sooner rather than later and Google still charging a hefty £629 for it, the Pixel 2’s time in the sun is coming to a close. We’d recommend waiting a couple of months to see what Google has planned for this year’s flagship as a result. If that’s not an option read on for an indepth look at how the Pixel 2 compares to this year’s flagships.
Pixel 2 – Design
The Pixel 2’s design was pretty old fashioned when it first launched in October 2017. Midway through 2018 it sticks out like a sore thumb, especially when stood next to other flagships, like the Galaxy S9 and iPhone X. Instead of having a mixed metal and glass body, the Pixel 2’s mainly made from aluminium.
The back has a stoney-like finish. It’s harsh and textured; strange at first but, ultimately, super-nice. It’s far grippier in the hand than shiny aluminium and isn’t as slippery when sat on a table the same way a glass back is.
The only design flourish is the glass ‘shade’ that sits just above the metal main body, covering the camera sensor and flash. Aside from adding contrast to the metal, this is where all the cellular and Wi-Fi antennas live.
Giving them plenty of space should help connectivity, but it also means there are no antenna bands elsewhere. Over the last 10 months the glass proved surprisingly scratch resistant, but be warned a single drop can turn in into a mosaic pattern of cracks. The below happened after a two foot fall from a coffee table onto a wooden floor.
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The front also feels a little old-fashioned. Unlike the Pixel 2 XL or Samsung Galaxy S9, the Pixel 2 has a huge chin and forehead either side of the 5-inch display. The bezel here is more substantial than seen on the iPhone 8. Overall, the Pixel 2 isn’t much smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S9 or Huawei P20, but those sport a much bigger 5.8-inch screen.
It seems odd that Google has taken this design route, especially since more and more device makers are opting for a bezel-less look. At least Google has used that extra space on both ends of the phone to add dual front-facing stereo speakers – but it’s still hard to forgive.
Like most flagship phones, the Pixel 2 is IP67-rated for water-resistance. Another, less desirable, trend Google has decided to follow is the removal of the headphone jack. I can only assume the decision was taken to enable waterproofing, but it’s a shame. And even though you get a USB-C to 3.5mm port dongle in the box and there are plenty of ‘Made for Google’ USB-C headphones coming soon, it’s annoying nevertheless.
Google Pixel 2 – Screen
There isn’t a whole lot to get excited about with regards to the Pixel 2’s screen. As in the first iteration of the device, it’s a 5-inch, 1080p AMOLED panel that looks good but is far short of stunning.
AMOLED panels are renowned for offering more saturated colours, perfect blacks and better contrast over their LCD counterparts. But I’m sure that the main reason Google opts for these panels is because OLED is necessary for Daydream VR to work – which, of course, is a big push for Google.
I’m a huge fan of AMOLED displays, but they’re not perfect. The panel on the Pixel 2 edges towards the warm side, so you’ll likely find that whites will have a slightly orangey tinge. Note that Google doesn’t offer any capability to adjust colours on the display, which is annoying if you prefer a slightly cooler screen.
Related: What is IP67?
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Probably the single biggest feature lacking from the panels on both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL is support for high dynamic range, or HDR. The ability to playback HDR10 and Dolby Vision content from the likes of Amazon and Netflix is available on the Galaxy Note 8, LG G7 and Apple’s iPhone X – but it isn’t available on the Pixel 2. This is by no means a deal-breaker, but it’s an odd feature to leave out when Google Play Movies and YouTube offer HDR support.