Hands-On With The New Google Pixel 2 XL Smartphone

October 4, 2017 - Written By John Anon

A little earlier today Google announced and unveiled its new ‘Pixel phones’ for 2017, the Google Pixel 2 and the Google Pixel 2 XL. Of the two, the Pixel 2 XL is not only the larger device, but also the more premium, positioning this one as Google’s true flagship smartphone for 2017. Now that the event has come to an end, we were able to take a closer look at the Google Pixel 2 XL and see if it does live up to the expectation of being Google’s 2017 phone.

What is immediately clear (and especially when comparing to the standard Google Pixel 2) is that the Pixel 2 XL does depart from some of the design language used for the Pixel line so far. While the back of the device largely resembles last year’s model (and identical to the standard Pixel 2), the front of the device is far from similar to the Pixel 2, or last year’s models for that matter. This is due to the Pixel 2 XL making use of more of a bezel-less design. This is not quite the level of bezel-less seen with other recent smartphones as this is more of an edge-to-edge type of bezel reduction with the top and bottom bezels (although also reduced) still present. In either case, the larger and slimmer display on offer is one of the central and most obvious design changes you will note when you first look at the new Pixel 2 XL smartphone.

Another clear design change comes with the sides of the device, as while they generally look like standard sides, they are not. As this is where you will find the Pixel 2’s new Active Edge feature. Which means the user can gently press the sides of the phone and activate a pre-set feature – like for example taking a photo/selfie or launching Google Assistant. Which is a very similar feature to what HTC brought to market with its U11 smartphone. However, the difference here is that the squeezing action is far more subtle and is therefore much less noticeable. You do know you are squeezing the sides, but its sensitivity is so good that you do not feel you are. In the limited time we had to test the feature out, it does seem as though it works pretty well with a good response time and requiring little effort when pressing.

Sticking with the front panel and another obvious change is that the new Pixel 2 XL comes with front-facing dual stereo speakers. Something which will greatly please those who preferred this hardware feature on earlier Nexus models. Although with the addition of the dual speakers comes the removal of the 3.5mm jack port. As Google has opted for the Pixel 2 XL to be a non 3.5mm jack phone which means buyers will either have to make use of a Bluetooth pair of headphones with this phone, or use the standard USB Type-C headphones included in the package. As already mentioned, the back of the device has seen significantly less change compared to the front and is far more reminiscent of last year’s models, sporting the same two-portioned back with glass covering the top portion. Although the ratio of glass to no-glass has changed this year with the metal back taking up much more of the back plate. Which has a knock-on effect to one aspect of the rear casing design – the fingerprint reader.

It is not that the fingerprint reader has moved or is positioned differently but instead it is no longer positioned underneath the glass panel. Which if nothing else does mean that users will be less likely to leave fingerprint marks on the glass when trying to use the fingerprint reader. Speaking of which, Google claims this is a new and redesigned fingerprint reader so you can expect even faster unlocking times and more accurate readings more often. Take a look at our full gallery of images below for a closer look at the Pixel 2 XL from all sides.