Squeeze to launch Google Assistant. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian
There’s no headphone socket, but Google bundles a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box
Setting up the Pixel 2 XL using a cable to another Android smartphone or iPhone is great, rapidly transferring media, text messages, apps and settings
Google Lens recognises landmarks from photos surprisingly well, even relatively obscure local landmarks, and will pick up phone numbers, URLs and identifies media artwork
Unlimited full-resolution photo and video backup to Google Photos is included with the Pixel smartphones
Google Assistant has much tighter integration into apps on the Pixel 2 XL, so you can command it to perform device actions from taking a selfie to opening the Guardian in Chrome
The Pixel 2 XL is water resistant to IP67 standards (immersion to a depth of 1m) matching the
iPhone 8 Plus, not the higher IP68 rating (1.5m depth) of the Samsung Galaxy S8+ Google’s live wallpapers are beautiful, and come with elements of motion such as waves lapping at a shore
The stereo speakers are good, making watching videos on the big and wide 6in screen great, but they lack bass
The Pixel 2 XL costs £799 with 64GB of storage or £899 with 128GB of storage and are exclusive to EE, Carphone Warehouse and the Google Store in the UK. For comparison, the
6.2in Samsung Galaxy S8+ costs around £680 with 64GB of storage (£779 at launch), the 5.8in Galaxy S8 with 64GB costs under £540 (£689 at launch), the 6.3in Galaxy Note 8 with 64GB costs under £820 (£869 at launch), the 5.5in OnePlus 5 with 64GB costs £449 and the 5.5in iPhone 8 Plus with 64GB costs £799. Apple’s upcoming 5.8in iPhone X with 64GB of storage will cost £999. Verdict
There is no question that the Google Pixel 2 XL is the best Android experience money can buy. It is the fastest-feeling, slickest and smoothest Android has ever been, putting it well on par with the quality of iOS.
The Pixel 2 XL also one of the more interesting looking devices, but does not push the boundaries of phone design quite like the minimal bezels of the
Samsung Galaxy S8. That’s not to say it looks like a phone from 2016 or earlier, but it doesn’t quite have the same feeling when you hit the power button and you see the screen doesn’t completely fill the front. The lack of a headphone socket and wireless charging is disappointing.
The battery life is great, the camera is absolutely fantastic, the screen looks good, the front-facing speakers are loud and crisp, and the textured body is easy to grip. As an overall package the Google Pixel 2 XL is the best big smartphone of the moment, but I’m not sure it’ll be enough to tempt iPhone users away from Apple. It’s quite expensive, but is still a full £200 cheaper than the upcoming iPhone X, and similar to
Samsung’s Galaxy S8+.
If you were contemplating a big top-end smartphone, the Pixel 2 XL should be in your top three at least, which should have everyone but Samsung and Apple very worried.
Pros: very fast, long battery life, great screen, squeezable sides, latest version of Android and rapid updates, interesting built-in AI, water resistant, fantastic camera, unlimited photo and video backup
Cons: expensive, no expandable storage or removable battery, no headphone jack, no wireless charging
The always-on ambient display is easy to read even outdoors. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian Other reviews