Pixel 2 XL Boasts Stock Android Oreo, Always-On Music ID

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Google just officially announced its next-generation Pixel family entailing two devices, with the larger one coming in the form of the Pixel 2 XL, the company's most premium smartphone offering to date. While both the Pixel 2 and its larger counterpart are packed with high-end hardware specifications, they also offer numerous special features, with the Pixel 2 XL seemingly being even (slightly) more packed on this front than its smaller sibling. As the Alphabet-owned tech giant finally detailed its latest and greatest Android flagship in an official capacity, it's time to take a look at all unique characteristics and capabilities of the product that's meant to take on the likes of the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone X this holiday season.

The most obvious new feature of the Pixel 2 XL compared to the 2016 series is its design; the handset boasts a nearly bezel-less aesthetic with a screen that stretches alongside its long edges and leaves little room for the top and bottom bezels. The smartphone is also visibly taller than the original Pixel XL, featuring a 6.0-inch display panel with a QHD+ resolution of 2,880 by 1,440 pixels amounting to an aspect ratio of 18:9, or 2:1. The tall image format is seeking to eliminate black bars from widescreen videos and provide users with a phablet that's easier to hold by being narrower, and is also the latest design trend in the smartphone industry which has already been adopted by numerous original equipment manufacturers over the course of this year, including Samsung and LG. The latter in all likelihood manufactured the Pixel 2 XL and the overall aesthetic of the device is in line with LG's recent product design strategy; Google's latest Android flagship looks somewhat similar to both the LG G6 and V30, with its screen being reminiscent of what LG refers to as the FullVision panel.

Unlike the original Pixel XL, its Android 8.0 Oreo-powered successor is IP67-certified for resistance to dust particles and water, with this particular feature addressing one of the most common complaints related to the 2016 device, but not all changes Google is introducing this year are making the Pixel 2 XL more versatile. Most notably, the company opted to do away with the 3.5mm headphone jack, announcing that change exactly one year after debuting the first Pixel series by mocking Apple for the omission of the same port on the iPhone 7 series with the tagline "3.5mm jack – satisfyingly not new." The popular audio port is no more and you'll have to use a USB Type-C dongle to connect your conventional headphones to the Pixel 2 XL, though Google claims that its port is now capable of delivering a digital audio experience of a significantly higher quality. On the bright side, the highly anticipated Google Lens AR app is now finally launching on the Pixel 2 XL and its smaller counterpart in a stable capacity, and another industry first comes in the form of an (optional) always-on music recognition service which will identify any songs playing in your surroundings and detail them on your lock screen.

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Just like it was the case last year, all consumers who purchase the Pixel 2 XL or its smaller counterpart are eligible for unlimited Google Drive storage for photos and videos they record on their smartphones, with the Mountain View, California-based internet giant pledging it will preserve their multimedia without any kind of aggressive compression, making sure that the quality of original files is left intact after they've been uploaded to the cloud. This particular offer only applies to video content until the end of 2020, though photos recorded with the Pixel 2-series devices can be uploaded to Google Drive with no limitations so long as you have them on you. On the wireless front, the Pixel 2 XL brings support for the latest Bluetooth standard in the form of Bluetooth 5.0 and also ships with NFC compatibility, as well as two front-facing stereo speakers. The new pOLED screen found on the Pixel 2 XL is also capable of displaying a Wide Color Gamut, consequently allowing for more accurate and natural color reproduction. This particular functionality isn't entirely unique in the world of smartphones but it is new in the context of Google's own offerings.

Another unique feature of the Pixel 2 XL comes as part of the Active Edge technology which is essentially a rebranded version of the HTC U11's Edge Sense solution entailing a pressure-sensitive frame which can be squeezed and act as a physical app shortcut of sorts or allow you to activate the Google Assistant by exerting some pressure on your smartphone. Finally, while the fingerprint scanners found on the original Pixel family were one of the fastest in the industry, Google apparently managed to improve their design for the Pixel 2 series and make them even more efficient, claiming that they're now the fastest in the world.