Google just announced their newest flagship smartphone – the Pixel 2. And in the seemingly redundant world of smartphones, it also appears to be a bit of a bold step in a new direction; in keeping with Google’s minimal and utilitarian preferences, the phone is surprisingly simple and not very flashy – unlike many of it’s competitors. That isn’t to say it’s ugly or plain – it’s still quite good looking, it’s just not quite the sleek, glass, ultra-thin device we’re used to at this point. The screen isn’t edge-to-edge, like the S8 or iPhone. Instead, the phone gives off a very useful and practical vibe – and that’s exactly what they intended it to be.
Two versions of the Pixel 2 will be released – the 5-inch, 64gb Pixel 2, and the larger 6″ Pixel 2 Xl, which starts at $849. 128gb versions are available for each. The screens are OLED, with a contrast ratio of 100,000:1; the iPhone 8 has a ration of 1,400:1. They can be set to always-on, showing time and notification icons on a black background. Resolution is a trusty 1920 x 1080p on the Pixel and 2880 x 1440 on the Pixel 2. The rest of the hardware is a standard Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, OLED screens, a 12-megapixel rear cameras, and an 8-megapixel selfie camera. (Yes, we now call them “selfie cameras”, not “front camera”.) First looks at the Pixel 2’s cameras seem very positive; they’re dual sensor, which means that every pixel is made of two smaller pixels; there’s optical image stabilization, as well as a new electronic image stabilization; aperture goes as wide as f1.8 – pretty impressive for a smartphone; and they calibrate each and every phone lens separately, to deal with distortions. They’ve also included the obligatory self-portrait mode.
Another interesting step Google took was ditching the headphone jack, following Apple’s lead, and releasing a pair of wireless earbuds. They will not, however, be including headphones with the Pixel 2 – a nice way to grab some extra money, for sure.
Google is, of course, well integrated into the phone software; you can activate Google Assistant simply by squeezing the side of the phone – which also silences the phone when it’s ringing. There’s a Google Search button at the bottom of the home screen, and the phone now supports Google Lens, which automatically detects objects in pictures, like books, movie posters and business cards. There’s also a feature that can detect music – like Shazam, but always running.
Overall, the Pixel 2 is a solid smartphone with a few of it’s own unique innovations – but it’s also reliably a smartphone, and doesn’t dare to get too bold in too many places. It should be fun to try out, and good alternative to both Apple and Samsung.