Google has announced the second generation of its Pixel smartphones, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, a followup to the original smartphone that packed what Google called “the best smartphone camera ever” when it was announced in October 2016.
While the Pixel 2 looks almost identical to its predecessor, the 2 XL has seen some substantial design changes: it’s jumping from a 5.5-inch display up to a 6-inch display, and that display now covers almost the entire face of the phone. It’s not a perfectly edge-to-edge look, but there are just the trimmest of bezels at the top and bottom of the screen. The OLED displays have pixels that can individually be left off while others are turned on, resulting in a 100,000-to-1 contrast ratio that’s 10x better than other smartphones in this class.
It seems the Pixel 2 will retain its title of “best smartphone camera ever.” DxOMark gave the original Pixel phone a score of 89, the highest at the time. Google says Pixel 2 has been given an overall score of 98 by DxOMark, the highest score of any smartphone camera on the market today — by comparison, the Apple iPhone 8 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 both have a score of 94.
Google hasn’t gone the trendy dual camera route with the Pixel 2: it has a single 12.2-megapixel f/1.8 rear camera with optical image stabilization. On the front of the phone is an 8MP camera.
There’s also a new Portrait mode. This feature uses computational photography and machine learning to blur the background. Unlike Apple’s implementation, which uses dual cameras for depth detection, the Pixel 2 does portrait mode with a single camera. Each pixel in the Pixel 2 is a dual pixel that detects the scene from two perspectives.
Portrait mode even works on the front-camera, allowing for beautiful “shadow depth-of-field” selfies.
Other features in the Pixel 2 include super fast charging, water resistance, the fastest fingerprint sensor, 7 hours of power with 15 minutes of charging, and a new Google Lens feature for detecting useful info in photos.
The specs are pretty straightforward for a 2017 flagship smartphone: both phones have Snapdragon 835 processors, 4GB of RAM, and an option for 64GB or 128GB of storage. They each have front-facing stereo speakers and OLED displays, though the smaller Pixel has a 1080p resolution (for a density of 441 PPI) and the larger version has a 2880 x 1440 resolution (for an even denser 538 PPI). Though there is some bad news this year: the headphone jack is gone.