Mitlov's Pixel 2 XL review

Discussion in 'General Smartphone/Handheld/Wearable Discussion' started by Mitlov, Apr 6, 2018.

  1. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    So after a lot of debate, I went and got a Pixel 2 XL. Got a 128 gb black model from Verizon. I've had it for a few days and am ready to offer some initial thoughts, and answer any questions people may have.

    So how's the screen?

    This was the biggest controversy when it was new. The plus side: any issues with graininess or uneven lighting are simply not present on my unit. Likewise, the colors, when the screen is set to "saturated," are perfectly punchy and attractive to my eyes, and I'm used to Samsung devices. (They're not quite as vibrant as your typical stock Samsung-overboosted colors, but still vibrant).

    There IS very pronounced off-center blue shift. However, this is not nearly as much of an issue as you'd think from watching video reviews. Why? Because there's no blue tint when looking straight on, and when I'm watching media, it's always straight-on. Whereas video reviews almost always show the screen from off-axis.

    How about the ergonomics?

    Perhaps one of the best, and least mentioned, aspects of the phone. The matte aluminum case is grippy and solid feeling. No need for a case to keep if from slipping away from you! And the flat sides give you a far more secure hold than the thinner sides of my S7 Edge did. It's a heavy phone, but in a reassuring, solid-brick sort of way, kind of like Nokias of yore.

    The fingerprint sensor is well placed (no camera smudges) and works very, very well. Far fewer false negatives than my Galaxy S7 Edge fingerprint sensor.

    My Galaxy S3 went in a case because it felt slimy. My Moto X 2014 went without because it was excellent ergonomically. My S7 Edge went in a case because it felt slippery, and the bezels were so thin I'd accidentally trigger the screen. This, like the Moto X 2014, feels like it was actually intended to be used without a case, so that's what I'm doing.

    Let's talk about audio.

    The good news is the stereo front-facing speakers are good. Not brilliant, but good, and respectably loud. These used to be common on Android flagships, and I think they should make a comeback. They don't add too much in the way of top and bottom bezels, but add a lot of utility if you ever need to show a friend a video or something like that.

    The bad news. Yes, after all the "still has a headphone jack" jabs with the Pixel 1, they removed it on the Pixel 2, and for no valid reason. And they don't include USB-C headphones in the box. And it turns out that USB-C headphones aren't even really a thing yet, unless you want to pay $150. So buy a couple extra dongles. And to add insult to injury, a dongle that includes both USB-C and 3.5mm audio simultaneously is still listed on Google's page as "coming soon" many months after the phone launched, and similar devices on Amazon all seem to get two-star reviews.

    Thankfully, Google's own USB-C-to-3.5mm dongle is $9 and gives you good audio quality. I'm just buying one for every device I frequently plug in. It's a thumb in the eye. But not a deal-breaker for me.

    Camera?

    OH MY GOD. This is the phone's selling point. Front-facing and rear-facing are both incredible. The ability to get truly incredible photos by just pointing and shooting in auto-everything settings cannot be overstated for people like me who use their phone as their primary camera. The dynamic range for outside scenery shots is just ridiculously well done.

    Portrait mode also works very, very well in my experience. I thought it was a gimmick until I tried it with my boys and, in the first couple attempts, got stuff I'd be willing to frame and put on the walls.

    Gimmicks?

    Squeezing the phone to launch Google Assistant? It's a gimmick, but it's not a bad one, and if you don't want to use it, deactivate it and you'll never know it's there. Interestingly, Google is getting zero heat over the fact that you can't remap this function to a different app besides Google Assistant. Compare with the heat Samsung is getting over the non-remappable Bixby button. Just sayin'.

    There is no equivalent to the iPhone X's Animoji or the S9's AR Emoji. I'm quite okay with that omission.

    Exclusive live wallpapers may be a gimmick, but they're actually really well done here. Most previews focused on the aerial photos with tiny details in movement (hot air balloons drifting over Monument Valley, cars driving down a road in a Hawaiian mountainous forest, etc). But my favorite is "marvelous marble," where an extremely detailed planet earth rotates and moves in the background, including some rotations caused by flipping between homescreens, and the lit side/unlit side of the planet is based upon the actual time of day, and which side is facing you is based on where you are in the world.

    Performance.

    I have to eat crow because I've often pooh-poohed people who say vanilla Android is so much faster and smoother than skinned, based upon the severe intermittent lag issues my Nexus 9 has always had, and the relatively good experiences I've had with my S3 and S7 Edge. But this thing, based upon my first week with it, genuinely is game-changing for me. It's so incredibly smooth and buttery, a dramatic step up from my S7 Edge (which I didn't consider problematic) and even a step up from my iPad 5.

    I don't run benchmarks because they're silly and irrelevant for real-world use. But in terms of real-world use, this thing is FAST.
     
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  2. scjjtt

    scjjtt A Former Palm User

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    Well done Mitlov - enjoy your phone.

    Sent from my LG G4 using Tapatalk
     
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  3. EdmundDantes

    EdmundDantes Mobile Deity

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    I wonder how useful a dual-dongle USB-3.5 would be? I can see some situations where it would be useful; but I like your idea of buying a couple of appropriate dongles and keeping them with the accessories and not the phone. Better yet would be putting a jack back on the phone (out of our control).

    HTC used to make a great phone; but they seem now to follow and not lead. They got influenced with the glass-backed phones, etc. They should have evolved their dual-front-speaker aluminum flagship. The problem was they always seemed to incorporate one fatal flaw into each iteration that made it somewhat undesirable.
     
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  4. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    The dual dongle is important for charging while streaming audio... To my desktop speakers at work, to my car stereo, etc. Those are just tot use cases, but they're ones I would use daily instead of periodically giving up music while I recharge.
     
  5. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

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  6. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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  7. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

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    They're next to each other
     
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  8. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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  9. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

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    They're next to each other
    2018_04_12_16.35.47-1.png
     
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  10. weegie

    weegie Mobile Deity

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    Awesome Mitlov, glad you made a decision and are happy with it.
    Thanks for taking the time to let us know your thoughts, bare Android definitely has a different feel with fluidity, more like iOS with a "good battery" or maybe even slightly better.
     
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