Pixel 2 Reviews: Iterative Update Lacks 'Wow Factor' But Still 'Best Android Phone You Can Buy'

Two weeks after first unveiling the Pixel 2 at an event in San Francisco, reviews of Google's latest smartphone have now been published online. Many of the reviews written on the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL are positive, with multiple articles referring to the smartphones as the best Android devices on the market, as well as legitimate competitors to Apple's iPhone series. The only slight negatives appear to surround Google's decision to aim for functional, more iterative updates over flashier feature additions.

Like most reviews posted today, The Verge was more impressed by the design and look of the Pixel 2 XL than the smaller Pixel 2, calling the latter phone "humdrum" with "big, chunky bezels" that don't compare favorably to the XL's smaller bezels and larger 6-inch screen. The site noted that each device's Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 4GB of RAM resulted in a snappy UI, running "better overall than Samsung's or LG's" version of Android.

pixel 2 xl by The Verge


The Verge described an all-day battery life that "lasts until bedtime just fine," and said that the Pixel 2 is "easily a contender for best smartphone camera" with photos that are "way sharper than the iPhone 8 and the Note 8." Although the site had qualms with the 2 XL's display quality -- calling colors "muted" -- the overall takeaway came down to being impressed by the smartphone's snappy functionality, despite a lack of "razzle dazzle."

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL do not razzle dazzle. It's not just the somewhat disappointing screen on the Pixel 2 XL, it's that Google has gone out of its way to do things that are functional instead of flashy. Instead of going bezel-less, it added front-facing speakers. Instead of a million camera effects, it focused on one or two, while making the core camera experience much better with machine learning. The list goes on.

The Pixel 2 has many, many things going for it. Were it not for a few problems — the screen, the slightly inelegant design, and (yes) the lack of a headphone jack — it might have received the highest score we've ever given a phone. As it is, it's a great phone, but not quite a home run.

TechCrunch compared the second iteration of the Pixel line -- focusing its review on the Pixel 2 XL -- to an "S" generation of the iPhone, meaning that the Pixel 2 is an "evolution" of a smartphone that was already solid, but lacks a central "wow factor." Still, the site was impressed by what Google accomplished with a single-lens camera system, describing "admirable" performance in low- and mixed-light settings, and mostly positive early impressions from Google's AI-powered "Lens" feature, which automatically tags objects in pictures.

pixel 2 by techcrunch


Even though the Pixel 2 XL runs for upwards of $800, TechCrunch ultimately stated that Google's smartphone shows "what can be done without having to charge users $1,000 for a device."

The Pixel 2 doesn’t make a particularly compelling upgrade case for users of last year’s model. The hardware isn’t a radical departure, and many of the new software features will be coming to the first-generation model — after all, Android support for older devices is one of the key tenants of Google’s first-party software approach. The device also doesn’t push the boundaries of what a mobile device is as much as other recent flagships.

The new phones offer a glimpse at that future and, in the case of the device’s camera, show what can be done without having to charge users $1,000 for a device.

Ars Technica looked at the performance of the Pixel 2, calling Google's build of Android for the new smartphones "the most highly optimized, smoothest, and fastest build of Android I have ever seen." Although the site had similar problems with the OLED display as The Verge -- Ars called it "an ugly graniness" most detectable in dark environments -- and the "dated aesthetic" of the 5-inch Pixel 2, its final impression was that Google's new smartphone is "the best Android phone out there."

pixel 2 comparisons by arstechnica

The Pixel XL, Pixel 2 XL, and iPhone 8 Plus via Ars Technica

Every single animation goes off without a hitch. Scrolling is flawless. There are additional, exclusive animations on the home screen like bounce scrolling and folder opening that add to the buttery smooth feel. It's amazing—head and shoulders above every other Android phone out there.

With the Pixel, you get an iPhone-like update experience, a cohesive software package, and super fast UI performance. It offers a harmonious device with a single, cohesive design language and none of the junk that slows your phone down. In 2017, that's enough to merit the title of "Best Android phone."

Interestingly, Ars Technica also pointed out that the Pixel 2 marks Google's first foray into its own custom designed system on a chip (SoC), packed into the smartphone in addition to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC. Although not active yet, the chip is said to be "dedicated exclusively to camera image processing" on the Pixel 2, and will eventually make processing photos "faster and more efficient than ever." Google calls the SoC the "Pixel Visual Core," and it includes an eight-core Image Processing Unit capable of more than three trillion operations per second.

For more Pixel 2 reviews, check out the following sites: CNET, Business Insider, Engadget, TIME, Wired, ZDNet, CNN Tech, and Venture Beat.

Top Rated Comments

Crosscreek Avatar
51 months ago
None of the phones seem to WOW me any more including Apple except for the price they expect consumers to pay.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
drewyboy Avatar
51 months ago
This is kind of what I figured, but I just can't get behind the design. Already outdated.
Function over fashion any day of the week. Apple could learn a thing or two, especially on the MPB line from others.
[doublepost=1508252270][/doublepost]
I want the iPhone to have the best camera.
Too bad that you have to upgrade to the top of the line to have it. I applaud Google's approach. Same hardware across the line, you just pick the size of the phone you want.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
drewyboy Avatar
51 months ago
So in other words, if you have to have the shiniest thing, the Pixel line is not it. If you want one of the best cameras, it sounds like the Pixel 2 is the one to get.

This is exactly what I'm looking for. Camera is my #1 priority for a smartphone. So far, everything I've seen is Pixel 2 handily beats iPhone 8.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
T Coma Avatar
51 months ago


With the Pixel, you get an iPhone-like update experience,
So is that supposed to be a pro or a con?

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/battery-issues-since-update.2069726/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/constant-spinning-wheel-with-ios-11.2071994/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/ios-11-0-3-bug-fixes-changes-and-improvements.2077044/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/ios-11-1-beta-3-bug-fixes-changes-and-improvements.2078209/

Etc., etc.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BornAgainMac Avatar
51 months ago
I want the iPhone to have the best camera.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bitfactory Avatar
51 months ago
My how times have changed - now it's Android users paying full price for a phone that's literally half the speed of iPhones.

Good times.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iphone 12 colors 2021

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived last October in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
iCloud General Feature

iCloud+'s New Custom Email Domain Feature Now Available in Beta

Wednesday August 25, 2021 7:48 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey, users with a paid iCloud+ storage plan can personalize their iCloud email address with a custom domain name, such as johnny@appleseed.com, and the feature is now available in beta. iCloud+ subscribers interested in setting up a custom email domain can visit the beta.icloud.com website, select "Account Settings" under their name, and select ...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Full iPhone 13 Feature Breakdown: Everything Rumors Say We Can Expect

Tuesday August 31, 2021 7:50 am PDT by
With the launch of Apple's iPhone 13 lineup believed to be just a few weeks away, we have compiled all of the coherent rumors from our coverage over the past year to build a full picture of the features and upgrades coming to the company's new smartphones. For clarity, only explicit improvements, upgrades, and new features compared to the iPhone 12 lineup are listed. It is worth noting that...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...
macbook air deals

Deals: Amazon Drops Price of 256GB M1 MacBook Air to New Low of $849.99 ($149 Off)

Friday August 27, 2021 6:16 am PDT by
Amazon today introduced new low prices on the M1 MacBook Air for both 256GB and 512GB storage options. To start, you can get the 256GB model for $849.99, down from an original price of $999.00. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. Only Silver and Gold are...
maxresdefault

New MacBook Pro Models Coming at WWDC, Suggests Leaker

Monday May 24, 2021 1:27 pm PDT by
New MacBook Pro models are coming at WWDC, according to leaker Jon Prosser who has a mixed track record when it comes to predicting Apple's plans. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Prosser provided no additional information, but there are new 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models in the works. The new MacBook Pros will feature the most radical redesign to the MacBook Pro ...
calculatorapp

iOS 11 Bug: Typing 1+2+3 Quickly in the Calculator App Won't Get You 6

Tuesday October 24, 2017 2:03 pm PDT by
A bug in the built-in Calculator app in iOS 11 is getting some major attention this week, despite the fact that it's been around since iOS 11 was in beta testing. At issue is a calculator animation that causes some symbols to be ignored when calculations are entered in rapid succession. You can try it for yourself: Type 1+2+3 and then the equals sign into the Calculator app quickly. Due to...
maxresdefault

'Being James Bond' Retrospective Will Be Free to Watch Through Apple TV App

Tuesday August 31, 2021 8:25 am PDT by
Update 9/7/21: "Being James Bond" is now available to watch through the Apple TV app. Ahead of the theatrical release of James Bond film "No Time To Die" on October 8 in the United States, a 45-minute retrospective titled "Being James Bond" will be available to watch for free through the Apple TV app, according to Deadline. The story from MGM is said to feature Daniel Craig reflecting ...
ted lasso notchless phone

No, That Notchless iPhone Spotted in 'Ted Lasso' Isn't the iPhone 13

Tuesday August 31, 2021 2:15 am PDT by
Recent sightings of a notchless iPhone in highly popular Apple TV+ comedy "Ted Lasso" have led to sensational headlines suggesting this is a canny bit of product placement on Apple's part and that the iPhone 13 will be notchless. In actuality – and this could go without saying – the phone in question is very likely just showing a poorly superimposed display added in post-production. Notchless ...