Google Pixel 2 XL Review

Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued.

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Our Verdict

The Google Pixel 2 XL is a great smartphone, especially if you’re looking for the best low-light camera.

For

  • The battery lasted over 12 hours during our tests.

Against

  • There are issues with the screen Google had to mitigate with software updates.
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The Google Pixel 2 XL features a 6-inch pOLED display.

The Google Pixel 2 XL features a 6-inch pOLED display.
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The Pixel 2 XL runs on a stock version of Android Oreo.

The Pixel 2 XL runs on a stock version of Android Oreo.
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Squeezing the sides of the Pixel 2 XL brings up Google Assistant.

Squeezing the sides of the Pixel 2 XL brings up Google Assistant.
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You can access Google Lens through the photos app.

You can access Google Lens through the photos app.
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There have been issues with screen burn-in on the Pixel 2 XL, but Google quickly addressed the problems with mitigating software.

There have been issues with screen burn-in on the Pixel 2 XL, but Google quickly addressed the problems with mitigating software.
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The back of the Pixel 2 XL is made of glass and aluminum.

The back of the Pixel 2 XL is made of glass and aluminum.
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The Pixel 2 XL has one of the best rear smartphone cameras.

The Pixel 2 XL has one of the best rear smartphone cameras.
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The Pixel 2 XL’s fingerprint scanner is on the back of the device.

The Pixel 2 XL’s fingerprint scanner is on the back of the device.
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The volume and power buttons are on the right side of the Pixel 2 XL.

The volume and power buttons are on the right side of the Pixel 2 XL.
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The Pixel 2 XL doesn’t have a headphone jack, but it includes a USB-C to 3.5mm converter for your headphones.

The Pixel 2 XL doesn’t have a headphone jack, but it includes a USB-C to 3.5mm converter for your headphones.
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You can’t expand the Pixel 2 XL’s storage.

You can’t expand the Pixel 2 XL’s storage.
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Its minimal openings around the edges contribute to the Pixel 2 XL’s IP67 rating against dust and water ingress.

Its minimal openings around the edges contribute to the Pixel 2 XL’s IP67 rating against dust and water ingress.
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The Pixel 2 XL is a larger, sleeker phone than the Pixel 2.

The Pixel 2 XL is a larger, sleeker phone than the Pixel 2.
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The Pixel 2 XL has an always-on display that lets you see the time and date without waking your phone.

The Pixel 2 XL has an always-on display that lets you see the time and date without waking your phone.
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We reviewed the Pixel 2 XL in Just Black, but it also comes in Black & White.

We reviewed the Pixel 2 XL in Just Black, but it also comes in Black & White.

Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.

Despite a few issues early on, the Google Pixel 2 XL has proven itself to be a top-tier smartphone. Even without the dual lens/apertures other flagships use, it has one of the best smartphone cameras thanks to software enhancements.

Design

It’s odd how the Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 2 seem to be two entirely different phones. From the back, they look the same, but the phones are different from the front. The Pixel 2 is boxy, thick-bezeled and has a 16:9 aspect ratio, while the 2 XL has thin bezels and a narrower 18:9 aspect ratio. Ultimately, the Pixel 2 XL look more like other current-generation phones, and in our opinion, it is the more attractive of the two versions.

The Pixel 2 XL is water-resistant, with an IP67 rating against dust and water damage, so it can survive being immersed in water up to 1 meter deep for an hour. Because of this, it doesn’t have a headphone jack. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with USB-C compatible headphones, though it includes a USB-C to 3.5mm converter.

You can purchase the Google Pixel 2 XL in Black & White or Just Black. It is available through Verizon or from Google, and the unlocked version can be used on all major carriers.

Display

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL also have different screens. The smaller Pixel 2 has a 5-inch, 1080p OLED display, compared to the 2 XL’s 6-inch, 2880 x 1440p OLED display. However, the 2’s screen has some distinct advantages over the one on the 2 XL.

Shortly after its release, there were reported issues with the Pixel 2 XL’s screen. It doesn’t display as vibrantly as other phones, there’s a blue shift when you view the screen at different angles, and most worryingly, it shows signs of screen burnout pretty rapidly.

Google quickly addressed these concerns with software patches and updates. You can now boost the color on the display with a saturated mode to help with the first issue. The company also released a few software changes to help mitigate or slow screen burn-in, which can happen to any OLED display. Additionally, Google extended the warranty on both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL to two years.

Camera

One of the best things about the Pixel 2 XL is its camera. Unlike other large flagship phones, the XL has a single 12MP shooter with one aperture setting, and it manages to do more with the single lens than many dual-rear-camera setups. The XL uses intelligent software rather than additional hardware to capture amazing images. It’s one of the best cameras on a smartphone, especially considering its stellar low-light photography and portrait mode on both the front and rear cameras.

Performance

The Google Pixel 2 XL is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor. Its performance in benchmark tests was good, though not as impressive as that of the iPhone X or Galaxy S9+. In real-world use, it never felt slow or glitchy.

It has 4GB of RAM, and you can choose between 64GB or 128GB of built-in storage. You can’t expand storage with an SD card, but Google makes up for this somewhat by offering free, unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos.

As for battery life, the Pixel 2 XL lasted over 12 hours in tests conducted by our sister site, Tom’s Guide – longer than almost any phone we’ve reviewed in the past three years. During this test, the phone continuously surfed the web over LTE until it died. The XL is compatible with rapid charging as well, so you can top up quickly. Google advertises you can get up to seven hours of normal use out of a 15-minute charge.

Google Assistant

There are tons of neat features on the Pixel 2 XL, including the amazing Google integration. It currently features a preview of Google Lens, which provides information about the buildings, landmarks, books and other things you take photos of. You can squeeze the sides of the phone to bring up Google Assistant – a feature we found more useful than the Bixby button on the Galaxy S9.

Overall, the Google Pixel 2 XL is a great phone. Even with its screen problems, we think it’s a contender among the top flagship smartphones on the market, and it absolutely has one of the best smartphone cameras. It’s stock version of Android, smart camera and Google integration make it one of the most enjoyable phones to use as well.

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