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October 8, 2017

Google Pixel 2 XL vs. Google Pixel XL: Is it worth the upgrade?

by John_A

The original Google Pixel and Pixel XL fast became two of the most-loved Android smartphones ever, and for good reason. Not only did they offer excellent specs, but they also boasted a slick software experience and top-tier cameras. Now, however, there are follow-ups: The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

How do the two plus-sized phones compare? We put them head to head to find out.

Specs

Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel XL

 

Size
157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm (6.2 x 3.0 x 0.3 in)
154.7 × 75.7 × 8.5 mm (6 × 2.9 × 0.3 in)
Weight
6.2 ounces (175 grams)
5.92 ounces (168 grams)
Screen
6.0-inch pOLED
5.5-inch AMOLED
Resolution
2880 x 1440 pixels
2560 × 1440 pixels
OS
Android 8.0 Oreo
Android 8.0 Oreo
Storage
64GB or 128GB
32GB or 128GB
SD Card Slot
No
No
NFC support
Yes
Yes
Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
RAM
4GB
4GB
Connectivity
GSM / HSPA+ / LTE / CDMA
GSM / HSPA / LTE / CDMA
Camera
Rear 12.2MP, Front 8MP
Rear 12.3MP, Front 8MP
Video
4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 120 fps, 720p at 240 fps
4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 120 fps, 720p at 240 fps
Bluetooth
Yes, version 5.0
Yes, version 4.2
Fingerprint sensor
Yes
Yes
Other sensors
Gyroscope, accelerometer, magnometer, barometer, proximity sensor
Gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, barometer, proximity sensor
Water Resistant
Yes, IP67
No
Battery
3,520mAh
3,450mAh
Charger
USB Type-C
USB Type-C
Quick Charging
Yes
Yes
Wireless Charging
No
No
Marketplace
Google Play Store
Google Play Store
Color offerings
Just Black, Black and White
Very Silver, Quite Black, Really Blue
Availability

Unlocked, Verizon

Unlocked, AT&T, Verizon

Price
Starts at $849
Starts at $670
DT Review
Hands-on
4.5 out of 5 stars

As we expected, in this situation it really is a matter of “newer is better.” We’re not surprised — it would be strange if the successor to the original Google Pixel XL wasn’t an improvement.

For starters, the Google Pixel 2 XL offers a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip, which is Qualcomm’s latest and greatest chip and promises to deliver a super fast and responsive performance. That’s compared to the Snapdragon 821 — which is 2016’s flagship processor. It’s an excellent chip in its own right, but it just can’t compete with the newer processor. Both phones have 4GB of RAM.

There’s more storage on the new phone too — while the original Google Pixel XL offered either 32GB or 128GB of storage, the Pixel 2 XL steps things up to 64GB or 128GB of storage, doubling the amount on the base model.

Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

Design, display, and durability

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The design of the original Google Pixel XL turned some heads when it first launched thanks to the half-glass back, and that design choice has been refined a little in the Pixel 2 XL. Instead of half of the back being covered in glass, only the top quarter or so is — and that glass ends before the fingerprint sensor. Of course, there are other design choices on the Pixel XL that set it apart — like the beautifully rounded corners on the display and the tiny bezels on the front, which really help push the phone’s design into 2017.

Speaking of the display, it’s gotten a small upgrade. That’s largely thanks to the aspect ratio change — so while the original Pixel XL offered a 5.5-inch 2560 x 1440-pixel AMOLED display, the new Pixel 2 XL kicks things up to a pOLED display that sits in at 6-inches and a resolution of 2880 x 1440 pixels. The density of the displays is more or less the same thanks to the larger display on the Pixel 2 XL.

The new phone is also a little more durable. For starters, less glass on the back is less glass that you could accidentally smash. On top of that, Google has given the phone an IP67 rating, meaning it will be able to withstand up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.

The Pixel 2 XL offers a better design, display, and durability. It’s the clear winner here.

Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

Battery life and charging

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The battery life hasn’t changed all that much for the Pixel 2 XL, and Google still hasn’t given the phone wireless charging — thanks to the fact that the back is largely made from metal. While the Pixel XL offers a 3,450mAh battery, the Pixel 2 XL offers a 3,520mAh battery. Both phones have a USB-C connector, and both offer fast charging. It’s a tie here.

Winner: Tie

Camera

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The camera on the original Google Pixel XL was one of the best smartphone cameras of 2016, and it seems like that’s not going to change in the Pixel 2 XL. While the standard Pixel XL offers a 12.3-megapixel camera with an aperture of f/2.0, the new Pixel 2 XL boasts a 12.2-megapixel camera with a f/1.8 aperture, meaning it should be slightly better in low light situations.

Early reviews suggest that the new phone’s camera is even better than the original in almost every way, but on top of the hardware, Google has spent a lot of time on machine learning to improve the camera’s software — meaning that, while the phone does not offer a dual-sensor camera, it does still offer cool portrait-mode effects, among other things. The Pixel 2 XL has been rated as the best smartphone camera so far by DxOMark.

The Google Pixel 2 XL has the slight edge here thanks to its better software and larger aperture.

Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

Software

Google’s self-built phones are known for offering stock Android, with only a few tweaks to put Google’s features front and center and to offer a nice clean experience. Both the Pixel XL and Pixel 2 XL currently offer Android 8.0 Oreo, and both will eventually get the same Android launcher.

That launcher offers some pretty sweet features. For starters, the search bar is back in the Google launcher, and is found at the bottom of the phone’s display. At the top, you’ll get important information about your day or about the weather, which is a nice addition.

One nifty feature on the Pixel 2 XL that you won’t find on the original is Active Edge. Just like the HTC U11, you can squeeze the edges of the phone to launch Google Assistant or snap a selfie.

Winner: Pixel 2 XL

Pricing and availability

The Google Pixel 2 XL has only just been announced, and as such its availability is a little limited at this point. The phone comes in at $850 for the 64GB version, which is a lot of money. You can get it for yourself unlocked on both the Google store, or through Verizon.

The standard Google Pixel XL is still available through the Google Store, and it’ll cost $670 for the 32GB version. Of course, you could also get it through Verizon, where it also costs $670. It’s likely the price will be cut at some point in the near future, considering the fact that it’s now an aging device. Still, because of its lower price the original Google Pixel XL is the winner here.

Winner: Google Pixel XL

Overall winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

There’s no surprises here — the Google Pixel 2 XL is simply a better phone than the original. While the original Pixel XL is cheaper, the Pixel 2 XL offers better specs, design, display, and camera. Is it worth the extra $200? If you have the money, then yes, it is. If not, however, the standard Pixel 2 is an equally awesome phone, but if you must have the larger display the Google Pixel XL is an excellent choice.




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