Tech Review: Google Pixel 2 XL on Verizon Wireless

Google is back with their second version of the Pixel smartphone.  The Pixel 2 XL is the bigger of the 2 new models.  With a 6″ screen it’s direct competition with the Galaxy Note  8 and the new iPhone X.

My first impression is that it feels like a solid phone!  It’s nearly all screen on the front with no home button.  On the back you’ll find the camera (only 1 where other phones use 2) and the fingerprint scanner.  The screen looks great and I really love the rounded corners but you’ll quickly notice that it doesn’t cover the entire face of the phone like the new iPhone X, Galaxy phones and the Essential phone.  Does that matter?  I’m not sure it does.  It takes away form the wow factor but in the end the functionality is the same.  There are some complaints about the display that I’ll get to below.

Performance is exactly what you would expect from a top of the line Android phone.   The interface is buttery smooth.  The bragging point for the Pixel is that it’s pure Google.  It runs Android as Google intended it to be, no special interfaces, icons or bloatware.  As an Android guy for years, I can really appreciate this.  It also helps with performance.

Google had a few years with their Nexus phones where they were still working to perfect their cameras.  The Pixel 2 has the perfect camera.  It takes amazing pictures with both the front and rear camera.  It easily stands up with the latest from Samsung and Apple.  Even without two cameras on the back of the phone Google has a portrait mode that does as good of a job as portrait mode with the new iPhone X.

Speaking of pictures, one huge selling point for the Pixel is that Google provides free photo and video storage in the Google Photos app through 2020!  This could be a huge deal for anyone who needs to back up their moments in the cloud and don’t want to pay a fee to do it.  At $5/month this will save you $120 over 2 years.

I also really like the always-on screen mode.  It shows a clock and notifications even when you have the screen turned off.  It uses the OLED screen in black/white mode so it barely sips on the battery.  It’s a great way to check out your latest e-mails and texts at a glance even when your phone is sitting on your desk or countertop.

Screen Problems?  

There have been a lot of complaints online about the screen.  Frankly, I don’t see it.  Ok, I do see what they’re talking about.  When you turn the screen slightly on an angle it takes on a blue tent.  Others have also said there is color burn-in.  It’s a problem with the P-OLED screen technology and not so much the Pixel itself.  Personally, it doesn’t bother me.  I don’t think I would have even noticed it if I hadn’t read about it online.  Google has issued an update that doesn’t fix the problem but helps alliaviate it.  None the less, you should know that people are complaining about this.

Conclusion

The Pixel 2 XL is a solid phone.  It’s not the “wow”est phone out there.  I still hand that distinction to the iPhone X and new Galaxy phones from Samsung.  What you do get is pure Android, a great camera and unlimited cloud storage.  You also get a price that’s a little more affordable than the competition.

The Google Pixel 2 XL sells for $850 directly from Google or from Verizon Wireless.