Google Pixel 2 XL review

A really impressive smartphone with an absolutely killer camera

If you have the money to go big with the Google Pixel 2 XL, you’ll get a heck of a lot in exchange. It’s a plus-sized phone that rolls up the very best smartphone design cues put forward in 2017, including a tall, pixel-dense display that’s perfect for watching 2K content and hopping into the Google Daydream View headset. 

However, it’s worth pointing out that it isn’t the thinnest phone out there, nor is it the most powerful if you're parsing through raw specs. Sure, its bezels are slimmed down over last year’s model, but they still stick out like a thumb compared to what we’ve seen on the iPhone X and Essential Phone. Lastly, its price tag hangs dangerously near the $1,000 mark.

But when it comes to photography, sheer ease of use and the peace of mind brought by the guarantee of future updates, there’s no better Android phone on the market.

View our overview of the Google Pixel 2 below.

Who's this for?

The Google Pixel 2 XL is the ideal smartphone for the entertainment fanatic who craves big screens for movies and gaming, forward-thinking, slim bezel-clad design and of course, photography. 

It’s also quite a fashionable phone, launching alongside several “Made for Google” accessories that really bring it to life.

As mentioned, you really need to want the best on the market in certain areas to justify the cost of this phone. The person that prides performance over value will enjoy what's on offer here, as there are better phones on paper to go for.

But if you just want a phone that's big, powerful and will take photos that regularly make you think 'wow', then this is the phone for you.

Should I buy it?

Despite its shortcomings, the competition has only a small leg up on the Google Pixel 2 XL. Sure, the tiny advantage the Note 8 has in the bezel department will make this a deal-breaker for some, as will the lack of features on the Pixel 2 XL like a 3.5mm headphone jack, wireless charging and removable storage.

But what the Pixel 2 XL does have casts a pretty large shadow over the other flagship options. The camera, as mentioned many times before, is spec-defying and a sight to behold. In fact, it’s so good that it has influenced us to bring it on a honeymoon as our sole camera.

Additionally, the new Pixel Launcher is simply the best iteration yet and since we first turned on the Pixel 2 XL last week, it has quickly overwritten our muscle memory from the Pixel XL, which we used as our daily driver since it launched in 2016.

In terms of hardware and software, the Pixel 2 XL looks and feels like Google’s most cohesive, fully-realized attempt at a phone yet. Building off of last year’s learning, the company has crafted one of the smartest smartphones ever.

It offers a whole lot of promise today and perhaps more importantly, it will continue to improve in the years to come right alongside Google’s ever-intelligent services. 

First reviewed: October 2017

  • Not convinced? Try these options instead:

Competition

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is arguably the best phablet around, or the Galaxy S8 Plus if you want to save a bit of cash.

The reason we've gone for the Note 8 is that it's got a better camera and the option of the S Pen, which few brands have still - it might not be the cleanest interface, and Bixby irks, but it's still one of the most complete smartphones on the market right now.

iPhone 8 Plus

Look, we know that you're probably not going to buy the iPhone if you're an Android fan, but hear us out.

The main strengths here are: wireless charging, more power and a price that's not totally dissimilar, with a good camera and the same stable Apple experience you'll get throughout the range.

It depends what you like really, but the glass back of the supersized iPhone has impressed a few people we've shown it to so it might be worth a look.

Google Pixel XL

Last year's bigger Pixel is still a nice choice - if you can find it. It's likely to be go offsale soon, but given it's got a screen that we're still pretty enamored with it might be worth checking out.

It lacks the stereo speakers we enjoy so much on this phone, and it's still a touch expensive for what you're getting. However, with a stellar camera on board and more power than a good section of people will probably need, it's a worthy consideration if you like what you see above but it's too expensive.