Today at the Google event the successor to the highly rated Google pixel was announced, the and Pixel 2 XL. I take a look at what Google brings to the table as it continues its journey to build market share in the smartphone sector.
Design & Build
Google continues the design and style from the original pixel into its new flagship smartphone with slight modifications. The all aluminium body remains, with a soft sculpted back giving it a sleek and comfortable feel. The bold glass visor on the original remains albeit taking a small portion of the back. The fingerprint sensor retains its home on the back of the phone and Google now claim it to be the fastest unlocking sensor compared to the phones on the market today. As seen in many flagship phones gone is the headphone jack as the future for being truly wireless is promoted. On the other hand, the Pixel 2 now comes with dual front-facing stereo speakers which are precision tuned to deliver the perfect balance between volume clarity and frequency response. Pixel 2 now comes IP67 dust and water resistance, a feature many wanted that was lacking in the original. The Pixel 2 will come in 3 colours; Just Black, Clearly White and Kinda Blue, while Pixel 2 XL come in Just Black and Black & White.
Pixel 2 comes with a 5 inch full HD OLED display, The screen intelligently selects which specific pixels need to be turned on while the rest stay black taking advantage of the OLED properties. The Pixel 2 XL comes with a 6-inch P-OLED display technology. The display is curved at the edges to give minimal bezels and great full-screen immersive viewing experience. The screen supports 18:9 QHD+ resolution giving it 538 dpi producing great detail on whatever is displayed on the screen. Both Pixel’s have been optimized for virtual reality and come DayDream ready.
Apart from the displays being different Google has kept everything else the same between both Pixel 2 variants and that goes for the internals powering the phone. Pixel 2 comes equipped with a Snapdragon 835 processor which is paired up with 4GB of RAM ensuring the phone can handle anything that’s thrown at it smoothly and without any issues. The phones come with a large internal battery that is stated to have all day performance and this is backed up with fast charging, Google claiming 15min charge can give up to 7 hours of battery life. Both phones come in two storage variants of 64GB and 128GB.
The highlight of the original Pixel was its camera and in Pixel 2 they aim to better it. The trend seen in other flagships is to adopt a dual camera setup but the Pixel 2 bucks the trend and continues to go with a single lens but with improved and enhanced technology.
The lens on the back now comes with a dual-pixel sensor, which means each pixel is made up of two smaller pixels coming in at 1.4μm. To compensate for the smaller pixels the apertures is now f/2.0, which lets more light to enter the lens and for the sensors to pick up. Pixel 2 now combines both optical and electronic image stabilisation to give smooth videos and sharp detailed photos. Its well and good having these great camera specs but what can be done with them? Google has this covered;
- Portrait Mode: Pixel 2 takes advantage of its dual-pixel sensor to give its user to create Bokeh effect photos making the person stand out with a soft blurring of the background. This effect isn’t just reserved for the rear camera, Portrait mode also works on the front facing 8mp selfie camera. Portrait mode also works on objects with Google’s machine learning helping it distinguish between foreground subject and background.
- Motion Photos: These are similar to Live photos seen in iPhone, where the camera is able to automatically record a 3 seconds before a photo is taken to make moving pictures similar to GIFs and Boomerangs seen on social media. The short recording combined with machine learning also helps eliminate blur and unwanted distortion that may occur in the process.
- Augmented Reality Stickers: Now the pixel will let you put live stickers into a scene that you are filming or taking a photo of. This takes the ARCore Framework that Google has been building over the past couple of years and pushing forward in a similar vein to Virtual Reality.
As you can see Google approach has been to have good hardware and team it up with optimised software to produce great output and this is clearly present in the route it has taken for the Camera and photos.
Pure android married with high-end specs was the perfect combo for the Pixel. Pixel 2 comes with pure Android as expected with extra features to enhance the experience as a whole.
Search & Google Assistant
A change in the Pixel launcher now brings the Google Search bar to the bottom of the screen making it easy to access for the user and access the web and Google’s knowledge graph to get answers at their fingertips. Google assistant has been core to Google in its development of a connected ecosystem; In Pixel 2 assistant can be activated by the traditional “Ok Google” trigger phrase but now a squeeze of the Pixel’s edges also starts it up. This feature called “Active edge” was seen in HTC’s recent flagship outing and with Google buying the smartphone department from HTC it was able to incorporate it into the Pixel 2.
Google Lens was announced at Google IO this year, a feature that is able to make use of the camera and machine learning to retrieve information of what is being filmed or photographed. This feature is now coming to Pixel devices including the original and will be continually tested and updated by Google expanding its knowledge of identifying what is seen through the lens and in photos.
This is a Shazam Esq feature brought to Pixel 2 that will let the microphone pick up music that is playing in the surrounding environment and retrieve information such as what track it is who the artist is via a locally stored database.
Overall there are many more features that Android Oreo will bring to Pixel 2 and this will continue to grow as the pure iteration of android grows and matures.
Pixel 2 continues the hardware software and connectivity cornerstones set by Google last year and incorporates them deeply with each other to bring a fully optimised device that puts the user front and centre. Pixel 2 has taken its aim at iPhone X and while it’s clear Apple will continue to dominate in sales numbers in the near future, the long-term future sees google put its stamp on the smartphone market and push all its OEMs and Apple to innovate and create producing user-centric devices.
Tech Off Melon!!