Google Pixel 2 review

Still has one of the top smartphone cameras

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  • Stunning 12.2MP camera that shoots great low-light photos
  • The software behind it makes it better than Samsung's camera
  • The camera app could use a couple more features

The camera is the best part of the Pixel 2 experience. Pictures are consistently in focus and true-to-life while still looking vibrant. Color accuracy is what Google gets right.

That actually doesn’t do this camera justice. Photos taken in low-light conditions, likely a dimly lit restaurant, looked as if we had turned on the lights when using the Pixel 2. Everything seemed a lot darker when using the iPhone 8 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 8, which you’d expect to be the two smartphone camera leaders.

Watch our camera review of the the Pixel 2 below. 

Google’s 12.2MP main camera, with an f/1.8 aperture, and 8MP selfie camera, with an f/2.4 aperture, bests its competition in almost all ways. It has a background-blurring portrait mode both on the front and back camera, 240fps slow motion video and settings that get deeper than any Google camera before today.

The default camera software isn’t perfect, however. Both Samsung and LG make it easier to snap a timed photo with a convenient hand gesture, while Google forces you to tap buttons. In group photos, this either results in an awkward face for the photo-taker who lunges to press the button while holding the phone out, or having to configure the timer while the group waits. We also miss the easy swipe-to-switch gesture to transition between the main and selfie cameras, which both Samsung and LG do so well. 

The photo quality is best-in-class, even without a second telephoto camera, and the video quality is steady with electronic image stabilization. This phone has optical image stabilization (OIS) this year and proves steady in our tests, more so than the original Pixel phones.

If you’re looking for the best camera on a mobile phone, you’re not going to be disappointed with your photos. It’s now the leader among smartphone cameras.

Battery life

  • Smaller 2,700mAh battery still gets all-day battery life
  • Battery saving tricks can extend the battery life further
  • Fast charges, but no visual power meter when phone is off

The Google Pixel 2 battery lasts all day with moderate use, which you may not expect given its rather small 2,700mAh battery size. It saves power in a number of important ways.

Its 1080p screen is a secret weapon to burning fewer unnecessary pixels, even when the screen remains bright. Google also has fairly smart Android Oreo battery saving options right in the notification shade. This can help extend the battery life beyond a day if you’re careful enough.

Running a looped HD video at full brightness and at a full charge resulted in 86% remaining in the battery life tank. That’s about average for smartphones of this size. You’re not going to be disappointed, but you’re also not going to be impressed with how this one performs.

While the Pixel 2 charges quickly thanks to fast charging, we’re sad that Google hasn’t found a way to display the battery life percentage whenever you charge a turned off phone. Every other Android phone can do this. When charging a phone from 0%, it’s impossible to tell if it’s at 10% or 100% unless you boot up the phone mid-change. That’s a bit annoying.

Matt Swider