As an iPhone user – and someone naturally inclined to iOS as my primary operating system – it takes something special from the world of Android to get me interested. With this year’s Google Pixel smartphones finally arriving in India, I decided to try it out. It’s supposedly the best that Android can offer this year.
Turns out, I took two full days with the Pixel 2 XL before I sat down to write my initial impressions of it. I’m glad my bosses haven’t noticed that. To be fair to them, I admit that’s late, but I wanted to spend some time soaking in what a signature Android flagship has to offer. Both in terms of experience and features. ALSO READ: Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL India prices start at Rs 61,000 up to Rs 82,000; here is when they go on sale in India
The way it looks and feels
I’ve been using the iPhone 8 with a silicone case on. With the two together, the cumulative weight should have been at par with the Google Pixel 2 XL. To my surprise, the Pixel 2 XL feels a lot lighter. Google’s done a brilliant job at creating a device that’s feather-light for its size, albeit metaphorically. In the true sense, the weight of the Google Pixel 2 XL ought to be compared to the iPhone 8 Plus.
On paper, the Google Pixel 2 XL weighs 175 grams. The iPhone 8 in comparison weighs in at 138 grams. You get the idea. Add in the silicone case weighing 45 grams and the weights are comparable. When was the last time you could discern 10 odd grams? If anything, the iPhone 8 should’ve felt much lighter. It’s a smaller phone at the end of the day. But to the contrary, it’s the other way round. That’s accomplishment on part of the Pixel designers I’d say.
The dual material used in the body of the Pixel 2 XL can go either way for users. Some love it. Some hate it. A play of color tends to excite some. I had access to the ‘Just Black’ edition of the device. Most of my friends seem to prefer the Black and White edition.
Under the hood
The Google Pixel 2 XL is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, and an 8-core chip that Google refers to as Pixel Visual Core. Google claims the Image Processing Unit on the SoC of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones is capable of 3 trillion transactions per second. The device comes with 4GB RAM and is available in two storage variants – 64GB and 128GB. ALSO READ: Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel: What’s different?
The Google Pixel 2 XL has a 12.2 MP primary camera and an 8 MP front facing camera. The Pixel 2 XL can record video over a wide range of resolution and frame rates – 2160p at 30fps, 1080p at 30/60/120fps and 720p at 240fps. The Pixel 2 XL also has stereo speakers. Audio and charging happens via a USB Type-C connector. Goodbye audio via your beloved 3.5-mm jack.
The much talked about blue screen
So much has been written about the device and the screen which glares with blue. Unfortunately, I unboxed the Google Pixel 2 XL anticipating a screen that leans to the cooler side of the color spectrum. It was a bias created by much of what I read about the device. I’ve seen many phones that have a cooler color output. And if you haven’t heard of any such reports, you’d not notice anything substantial. It’s apparent only if you tilted the device to extreme angles. Since I have adaptive brightness and night light on, the screen naturally turns warmer during the time it matters the most.
You can squeeze the phone to access Google Assistant. The Assistant is one area where Google does better than Apple. When I’m talking to Siri, I find myself altering my natural accent a bit, at the risk of sounding like a machine myself. Google gives me the privilege of being myself. It understands us desis much better. Besides, what I find interesting with Google is the Indian voice that responds back. She sounds south Indian to me.
Google Assistant is also more functional than Siri, or at least comes across as more evolved, in terms of context, localization and functionality, Google has done a better job than Apple it appears. Now it may not be entirely functional, but still better. While I could access Settings at ease, I couldn’t find a way to go to the Home screen using a voice command. I tried saying ‘Go Home’ and it took me home. Via Google Maps. I happened to be sitting at home while trying it. Now figure the route. It had the current location with a margin of error, routing me by foot to the location I had saved. Intelligence, even artificial intelligence can have a sense of humor.
I got the device on a Friday, and without plugging in the charger even once, I’ve managed to update the device over Wi-Fi to the latest security patch, installed a few apps and updated a few files, as well as snapped a few pictures. As on Sunday evening, the device still has 25 percent of battery life in it. I’ve even been listening to music over a Bluetooth device. I’m pretty conservative with screen on-time, given that I use an iPhone which is infamous for its battery life. The Pixel 2 XL has a 3520 mAh battery, and it doesn’t let you down.
This is all I can say about the device without falling into the temptation to judge it based on my overall experience. Stay tuned for a more detailed review of the Pixel 2 XL, here on BGR.