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Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: Did Google just make the perfect Android phone?

To say that Google‘s first Pixel smartphone was well-received when it first launched is perhaps a big understatement. The tech world loved Google’s new handsets and now, everyone is looking forward to seeing what the search engine giant has in store for their second round of Pixel smartphones.

At long last, the time has come. These are Google’s brand new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones.

Much like the first set of phones, Pixel 2 will see two variants: A small one called the Pixel 2 and a big one called the Pixel 2 XL.

Pixel 2 XL

This, is probably the flagship everyone’s looking forward to because it’s as chic as a 2017 flagship handset gets. In front, this new phone sheds most of the thick bezels on its predecessor and fills it out with a whole lot of screen. 6 inches, to be exact and the phone will be pushing a juicy Quad HD+ resolution (2880×1440 pixels) across an 18:9 aspect ratio POLED display. Google says that it comes with a wide colour gamut and comes with a circular polariser so you can use it with sunglasses. Oh, it’s also curved at the corners like the LG G6 and Xiaomi Mi MIX 2, plus its Daydream ready.

Despite the minimal bezel approach, though, Google still managed to cram a pair of dual front-facing speakers in the top and bottom bezel which is amazing news. However, this feature isn’t without its compromises as Google had to ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack on their new handset.

Inside, it’s powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of RAM with two storage options: 64GB and 128GB. It’s also got a decent 3,520 mAh battery to keep the lights on and a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner that Google says is the fastest one yet. And then comes the good news for those clamouring for water resistance on Google’s new phones because the Pixel 2 XL will also come with IP67 water resistance!

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One aspect that makes the Pixel 2 XL very un-2017, however, is the fact that this new handset from Google only features one primary rear camera — rather than the popular dual-camera setups we see on this year’s flagships. There’s no optical zoom, no ultra-wide angles and no monochrome sensors. Instead, the Pixel 2 XL features a single 12.2-megapixel 1.4 micron f/1.8 aperture camera that comes with optical image stabilisation and electronic image stabilisation, both of which activate during video recording.

The camera takes a burst of shots with short exposure times to avoid blowing out the highlights and combines them together to produce stunning images in an instant. They’ve also increased the dynamic range and improved texture and sharpness plus added an improved autofocus system.

Despite the fact that it only has one camera, Pixel 2 also has a “portrait mode” feature and uses machine learning to blur the background. This is thanks to the Pixel 2’s dual pixel sensor that can capture two perspectives (right and left view) while machine learning blurs the background. It also works on the 8MP f/2.8 aperture selfie camera!

As a result, all of this combines to produce the best smartphone camera the world has ever seen…according to DxO Mark. Pixel 2 earns a record-breaking score of 98 on the renown camera testing site, smashing both the iPhone 8 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note8.

On the software side of things, Google’s Pixel 2 XL comes with a new always-on display and something called Active Edge. With Active Edge, you can squeeze your phone to activate the Google Assistant which makes it kind of like the HTC U11’s Edge Sense (surprise, surprise). It’s also got something called “Now Playing” where the Assistant can pick up music that’s playing in the background, recognise it and tell you what’s playing on your always-on display. Google says it does everything locally so nothing gets sent to Google.

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Pixel 2

If a big screen and larger price tag is not your style, you can always opt for the smaller Pixel 2 instead, as it comes with a lot of the features its larger brother packs. It’s also powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor, it’s also got 4GB of RAM, it’s also got 64GB and 128GB storage options, it’s also got dual front-facing stereo speakers, it’s packing the same 12.2MP camera, and it’s also IP67 water resistance.

However, it does set itself apart from the Pixel 2 XL in the display department. Instead of a slim-bezeled large QHD+ display, you’re getting a more conventional 1080p Full HD OLED display (16:9 aspect ratio) that measures 5 inches. Still, this display does pack features like 100000:1 contrast ratio, true blacks and 95% DCI-P3 coverage.

That said, it also doesn’t have a headphone jack which is just awful news but at least both it and the Pixel 2 XL come with an adapter plus Bluetooth 5.0 support.

Of course, the smaller Pixel 2 also comes with the same software and software features you’d find on the XL version — including Active Edge — and will also launch with Android 8.0 Oreo.

The Pixel 2 is priced at USD649 (about RM2,754) for 64GB and USD749 (about RM3,178) for 128GB storage variant. Meanwhile, the Pixel 2 XL will retail for USD849 (about RM3,602) for 64GB of storage and USD949 (about RM4,027) for 128GB of storage.

Pixel 2 will come in three colours — Kind of Blue, Just Black and Clearly White — while the Pixel 2 XL will have two colours — Just Black and Black and White. For a limited time, Google will include a Google Home Mini with each Google Pixel 2 purchase. Pixel 2 will be available in Australia, UK, US, India, Germany and Canada first with Singapore, Spain and Italy coming next.

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