The Google Pixel 2 XL has been my favourite device of all time, but there are a few let downs that make me reconsider picking up another Pixel device in the future.
The main reason behind all of that is the way Google manages quality control and deals with issues, but more on that later.
The Pixel 2 XL has a design that in my opinion has aged fairly quickly. The front top and bottom bezels look gigantic in 2019, but to me, that’s something I actually like about this device. The now called thick bezels allow me to comfortably use the phone in a horizontal or vertical orientation without any accidental touches on the sides.
The back in my opinion is still beautiful, the metallic frame, rear panel and the glass on the top still looks stylish and very elegant – kind of wish the Pixel 3 would have stick with the panda colour combo, but I guess a skin can easily fix that.
Overall, the Pixel 2 XL looks great in 2019, although many will dislike it’s big bezels. I believe that the excellent build quality and stylish design will hold up fairly well in 2019 and in the coming years.
HARDWARE & SPECIFICATIONS
Both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM and either 64 or 128GB of storage. Here I have the 128GB storage variant, but the 64GB version shouldn’t differ by any bit. Both devices have Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB-C on the bottom and a fingerprint scanner on the rear.
As you might already be aware, the 3.5mm headphone jack is long gone, but at least an adapter is provided in the box. One thing I have to mention about these dongles is that they break very easily and I can’t count how many times I’ve read people saying that it broke for them. Perhaps consider buying a few extra ones from eBay to be safe, or upgrade to wireless earphones.
- Bliiq Hummingbird Wireless Earphones Review
- Creative Outlier One Plus Wireless Earphones Review
- Anker SoundBuds Slim Wireless headphones review
Overall, it’s a feature packed device and the only thing missing from it is wireless charging. I have always wanted a phone that would support it, but I would never go for that feature alone, and it’s the same this time around – I don’t miss it, but for those who are used to it, this could be a big drawback. For that very specific feature, you may want to take a look at the new Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL.
The Pixel 2 XL is also IP67 certified, meaning that you shouldn’t worry about spilling some water and dust on it by accident – though I would advise against having any contact with water in the future – to avoid any issues whatsoever.
Overall, it’s still a very good hardware and I think it will hold up fairly well even in 2019. In terms of specs, this is still a very capable device.
The Pixel 2 XL has a massive 6” P. OLED display at QHD resolution and an 18:9 aspect ratio – sounds familiar so far. The display is HDR 10 certified, meaning that it supports a wider range of colour gamut, therefore it can show you more and brighter colours on the screen – making the content overall more enjoyable. If you’re wondering, I rarely noticed the blue shift issue on the display, and it would never bother me as I have always held the device directly in front of me.
The sunlight visibility is excellent, and it allowed me to see the contents on the screen in all lighting conditions.
I am one of those who have left the colour calibration on “natural” and I personally have no complaints about the display, other than the blue shift. As for others, many people still hate the display as it’s not as colourful enough– even in saturated mode – as for example a Samsung OLED display.
I’ve downloaded and used Nova launcher on day one – and it worked seamlessly. I have never come across a small sluggish animation or any performance issues – and even when I did, a quick restart has fixed all of my problems. After using the device for nearly a year, it still performs as if I would have just taken it out of its box – I absolutely love how fast it is.
The Pixel 2 XL might have an outdated high-end chipset, but believe me when I say it runs and performs just as fast as a late 2018 high-end flagship. For those on the budget, I would still strongly recommend the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL series in 2019, that is, if you want to save money and still have a phone that performs like it should.
You can play games without any issues, multitask and even have multiple apps open in the background without any slowdowns whatsoever – when I first put it under my usual tests, I was amazed how optimised the stock operating system was – and I am still trying to find other devices that can come close to this in terms of performance. From my experience, I have only had similar experiences on a stock like OnePlus 6T and the not so stock like Xiaomi Mi 8. Samsung, LG and Sony had occasional slow downs and become a little sluggish after some time.
One issue that I still come across is RAM management. Having 4GB of RAM might not be ideal for power users as applications are increasingly becoming larger and more demanding. I occasionally switch back and forth between a few applications which usually have to reload – this is especially annoying if you are using apps like Facebook, Twitter and the whole feed will simply jump back to the top.
The battery is 3520mAh and it has power delivery that allows you to charge at 10.5W. This is certainly not the fastest, but I found it more than enough on a daily basis.
Running Android 9 Pie, the battery has become slightly worse than on Android 8.0, but it still allows me to have 4 to 5 hours of Screen On Time by using apps like Twitter, Reddit, Chrome, Spotify and perhaps a little gaming here and there.
So, in terms of performance, the Pixel 2 XL still performs extremely well and in fact, much better than other devices after having used them for a year, at least from my experience.
The issues are the things where this gets a little more interesting. I have made a video previously describing my 2 main issues – way before I started using the device more and more on a daily basis.
First, The Wi-Fi is terribly bad on the Pixel 2 XL. I started having issues around February 2018 and it doesn’t seem like Google has done much to improve this – although the issue seems to be gone for most, I still suffer on a daily basis.
The issue is, whenever I cover the top glass on the back with my palm, the Wi-Fi will drop connection really fast making me wait far too long to buffer videos, play games and just in general, browse the web. Games will usually disconnect and change to mobile data and the same can be said with watching videos, using up my limited amount of 4G data. The way the WiFi can be covered up so easily is just a terrible execution, even though the router is only a few meters away from my device.
Second, From January, up until October I had issues with the charging port. Whenever I attempted to use the USB-C cable that was provided with my device, it just wouldn’t charge. It would always connect and disconnect and result in not charging.
When I would flip the USB-C cable over, it would simply just not work at all. I have pointed out this issue to Google and they were happy to provide another cable for free of charge. Later, the same thing happened and I decided to send my phone back and replace it with a new one. Later on, once I did a more in-depth research into this sort of issue and reading a few other people who were facing the same issues and not getting it solved by getting a replacement, I decided to cancel mine and buy another third party cable – which surprisingly had no issues charging my Pixel.
I have first contacted Google in May and I have been forever waiting for Google to either send me another pair of USB-C cable, or fix the issue. Back in October, I have contacted them again and I was politely told to wait – even though at this stage I was waiting for over 5 months. Now, truth to be told, Google did actually manage to fix this issue and around November my issue was gone. There were no announcements, I have never received either an email reminding me that the issue has been fixed, nor I have ever received my USB cable.
I understand that Google gets a ton of similar issues on a daily basis, but I am truly disappointed in the way this was handled. An average user who isn’t as tech savvy as I am could have spent a lot of additional money on getting other charging cables from Google itself (which obviously would have had the same issue) and third parties – I am very disappointed really concerned about how Google deals with issues both internally and publicly.