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Google has unveiled the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, two of the most advanced phones on the market.

The Android handsets are designed to compete with the best mobiles around, including Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Note 8, and Apple’s latest iPhones. 

Google says it’s focused on improving battery life, storage and camera quality, but some consumers may feel slightly disappointed by their design.

Design

The original Google Pixel and Pixel XL may have been celebrated, but it wasn’t because of their design. Unfortunately for many, their successors look very similar.

The Pixel 2 features very prominent bezels, making it look clunky and somewhat outdated compared to many of 2017’s flagships. The Pixel XL 2 looks more modern but still has a fairly prominent “forehead” and “chin”, unlike the “edge-to-edge” Samsung Galaxy S8, Note 8 and iPhone X. 

This means the new Pixels aren’t anywhere near as attractive as some of the handsets they’re competing directly with. 

They all feature a two-tone rear, similar to the original Pixels, with a small pane of glossy glass sitting on top of the aluminium at the back. It’s a unique look that’s designed to help the Pixel brand stand out.

The Pixel 2 comes in three colour schemes: Kinda Blue, Just Black and Clearly White.

The Pixel XL 2, meanwhile, is available in Just Black and Black & White.

Screen

The most notable difference between the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 comes in the size department. 

The Pixel 2 has a 5-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 AMOLED screen, while the Pixel XL 2 has a curved 6-inch, 2,880 x 1,440 pOLED display, which makes it both larger and sharper than the regular model. 

Features

Both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL come with either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage, and come with a fast-charging battery and Google’s voice-activated Google Assistant baked in.

Like the HTC U11, the Pixel 2 has a special frame embedded with sensors, which you can squeeze to launch software features or execute commands.

I enjoyed using it on the U11, as it has the potential to solve common issues. For instance, it’s much easier to snap a picture one-handed with a squeeze than with the push of an awkwardly located button.

Google says 15 minutes of charging will provide up to seven hours of usage, and the phones are also water- and dust-resistant to the IP67 standard.

Camera

The phones are euqipped with a 12-megapixel rear camera with an f1.8 aperture and optical image stabilisation.

One of its main selling points is Portrait Mode, which uses machine-learning to capture “professional-looking” shots with a blurred background, to make the main subject stand out. You can take Portrait Mode shots on the front-facing camera too.

Google says the Pixel​’s camera is also calibrated for augmented reality, and showed off a demo using virtual characters from Stranger Things.

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Android Oreo

Unsurprisingly, the latest version of Android – 8.0 Oreo – comes pre-loaded on the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2. It’s actually a key selling point for the smartphones. 

They run a pure version of Android that hasn’t been tampered with or spoiled by the addition of unwanted bloatware and strange skins. It’s Android as Google intends it to be.

Other Android smartphone manufacturers tend to put their own spin on the software, which can damage the user experience because the tweaks are often designed to promote the company’s own apps and services. 

Major Android updates can also take a long time to come to handsets with software tweaks. That won’t be a problem with the Pixels, which will receive updates as soon as they’re ready. 

Price and release date

Both handsets are available to pre-order right now, but Google is staggering their release dates.

The Pixel 2 costs £629 for 64GB of storage and £729 for 128GB, and will come out on 19 October, while the Pixel 2 XL costs £799 for 64GB of storage and £899 for 128GB, and will come out almost a month later on 15 November.

You can register your interest with EE here.



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