5 things you missed from the Pixel 2 launch

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are both now available to pre-order, and with premium designs and high-end specs you might well want to get an order in.

But while things like their dual stereo speakers and DxOMark-leading cameras have got a lot of attention, there are some interesting aspects of these phones that you might have missed, ahead of their impending presence on our best phones list.

With that in mind we’ve created a list of five things that are worth knowing, but may have got drowned out in all the Google Home Max, Google Pixel Buds and Google Pixelbook news.

1. They can tell you what song is playing without you having to ask

A small but potentially very useful feature of both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL is that if you enable the always-on display you can also have it always be listening out for songs, so it can tell you what’s playing without you having to ask.

It even works without an internet connection thanks to a combination of machine learning and a constantly updated database of songs. 

So it won’t be using up your data and hopefully won’t be too harsh on battery life – although that remains to be seen.

2. They have an eSIM

We were skeptical of rumors that the Pixel 2 would have an eSIM, but it turns out that they were right.

An eSIM is a permanent, built-in SIM card, which theoretically allows you to change network without changing your SIM card, and the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are the first phones to have one, though we have previously seen them in the likes of the Apple Watch 3.

This has the potential to make changing networks a lot faster and simpler, as you won’t need to wait for a new SIM card to arrive, but in practice the eSIM can only currently be used with Google’s Project Fi network. For every other network you’ll have to use the nanoSIM slot that’s also included.

3. The Pixel 2 XL is only marginally larger than the Pixel XL despite having a much bigger screen

The Pixel 2 XL has a 6.0-inch screen, yet at 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9mm it’s only slightly larger than the 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.5mm Pixel XL, which has a significantly smaller 5.5-inch screen. So if you’re worried the phone will be too big, you might not need to be.

But the standard Pixel 2 doesn’t have the same size reductions, coming in at 145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8mm, while the original Google Pixel is 143.8 x 69.5 x 8.5mm.

That makes the Pixel 2 a tiny bit longer and wider, despite the fact that both phones have a 5.0-inch screen. You can blame the bezels on that, as while they’ve all but been removed from the Pixel 2 XL they’re still sizeable on the Pixel 2.

4. You’ll get three years of guaranteed updates

One of the best things about buying a Pixel or Nexus phone is that you get guaranteed updates and that they arrive more or less on day one.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are no exceptions, with Google promising at least three years of software updates for each of them. That means you should get Android P, Q and even R.

Given that most Android phones aren’t on Android Oreo yet and a very large number aren’t even on Android Nougat that’s good to know.

5. They come with Bluetooth 5.0

This feature isn’t unique to the Pixel 2 range, as a number of handsets this year have come with Bluetooth 5.0, but it’s still worth noting as it’s a significant upgrade on what’s come before.

Bluetooth 5.0 works at four times the range of previous versions, meaning - for example - that your music won’t cut out when you take the phone you’re streaming it from out of the room housing your Bluetooth speaker.

It also offers twice the speed and eight times the broadcast messaging capacity. So data can be sent faster, and all that extra capacity means you can connect to multiple devices at once.

However, to make the most of Bluetooth 5.0 the devices you’re connecting your Pixel 2 to will need to have Bluetooth 5.0 as well, so unless you’ve recently upgraded your gear these benefits might not immediately come into play.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.