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Google Pixel 2 XL review: Only for the pure of Android

By James Lu & Alvin Soon - 15 Nov 2017

Benchmark Performance, Battery Life & Conclusion

Performance Benchmarks

Like many other flagship smartphones this year, the Pixel 2 XL runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core (4x2.35 GHz Kryo & 4x1.9 GHz Kryo) processor with 4GB RAM and an Adreno 540 GPU.

  Google Pixel 2 XL Samsung Galaxy Note8 OnePlus 5 (8GB RAM/128GB) HTC U11 Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 Apple iPhone 8 Plus (256GB)
  Google Pixel 2 XL Samsung Galaxy Note8 OnePlus 5 (8GB RAM/128GB) HTC U11 Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 Apple iPhone 8 Plus (256GB)
Launch SRP
  • From S$1398
  • From S$799
  • From S$998
  • From S$699
  • From S$1548
Operating system
  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Dream UX
  • Android 7.0.1 (Nougat) with Oxygen OS 4.5
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with HTC Sense
  • Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) with MIUI 8
  • iOS 11
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core (4x2.35 GHz Kryo & 4x1.9 GHz Kryo)
  • Samsung Exynos 8895 octa-core (4x2.3 GHz & 4x1.7 GHz), 10nm process
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa-core (4 x 2.45GHz Kryo & 4 x 1.9GHz Kryo)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • Apple A11 Bionic hexa-core
Built-in Memory
  • 4GB RAM
  • 6GB RAM
  • 8GB RAM
  • 6GB
  • 6GB RAM
  • 3GB RAM
Display
  • 6.0-inch / 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (538 ppi) / pOLED Display
  • Always-On Display
  • 6.3-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (522 ppi) / Super AMOLED Infinity Display
  • Always-On Display
  • 5.5-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401 ppi) / AMOLED
  • 5.5-inch Main / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (~550 ppi) / Super LCD 5
  • 5.99-inch / 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (402 ppi) / IPS
  • 5.5-inch Retina HD / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401ppi) / IPS
Camera
  • Rear: 12.2-megapixel, f/1.8, OIS, phase detection & laser autofocus, dual-LED flash
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/2.4
  • Rear: Dual 12-megapixel telephoto f/2.4 and 12-megapixel wide-angle f/1.7, OIS, 2x optical zoom
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.7
  • Primary Rear: 16-megapixel, f/1.7, contrast detection autofocus, EIS, LED flash, 1.12 µm pixel size
  • Secondary Rear: 20-megapixel, f/2.6, phase detection autofocus, LED flash, 1.00 µm pixel size
  • Front: 16-megapixel, f/2.0, 1.0 µm pixel size
  • Rear: 12-megapixel, f/1.7, phase detection autofocus, OIS, dual-LED flash
  • Front: 16-megapixel, f/2.0
  • Rear: 12-megapixel, f/2.0, PDAF, two-tone flash, 4-axis OIS, 1.25µm pixel size
  • Front: 5-megapixel
  • Rear: Dual 12-megapixel, (f/1.8, 28mm & f/2.8, 56mm) with phase detection autofocus, OIS, and quad LED (dual-tone) flash
  • Front: 7-megapixel, f/2.2 FaceTime HD camera
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 15 (up to 800Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, GLONASS, NFC
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 16 (up to 1Gbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, DLNA, USB Type-C, USB 2.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, DLNA, USB Type-C, USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Display, USB Type-C 2.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 4G+ LTE Cat 12 (up to 600Mbps), dual-band, hotspot, Bluetooth v5.0, A2DP, LE, GPS, GLONASS, Lightning connector
Storage Type
  • 64GB internal storage
  • 64GB internal storage (UFS 2.0)
  • 256GB (MicroSD)
  • 128GB internal storage
  • 128GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 256GB
  • 256GB internal storage
  • 256GB internal storage
Battery
  • 3,520mAh
  • Fast Charging
  • 3,300mAh
  • Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • Wireless charging
  • 3,300mAh
  • Dash Charge
  • 3,000mAh
  • Quick Charge 3.0
  • 3,400mAh
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
  • 2,675mAh
Dimensions
  • 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm
  • 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm
  • 154.2 x 74.1 x 7.25 mm
  • 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9mm
  • 150.5 x 74.6 x 7.7 mm
  • 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5 mm
Weight
  • 175g
  • 195g
  • 153g
  • 169g
  • 187g
  • 202g

Sunspider Javascript

SunSpider JavaScript measures the browsing performance of a device when processing JavaScript. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance, but also assesses how optimized a particular platform is at delivering a high-speed web browsing experience. 

The Pixel 2 XL performed about as well as the other 835-powered smartphones, but was no match for either the Note8 or iPhone 8 Plus. For what it's worth, I couldn't tell any difference in actual real world browsing performance between the Pixel 2 XL and the Note8.

 

Quadrant

Quadrant is an Android benchmark that evaluates a device's CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performances. While the Pixel 2 XL was the worst performer in this benchmark, its 37683 score is still quite respectable. The OnePlus 5 and HTC U11 both scored higher thanks to having more RAM. Having said that, the Galaxy Note8 was way ahead on this benchmark.


 

 

3DMark Sling Shot

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback. The test also includes impressive volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. We're running this benchmark in Unlimited mode, which ignores screen resolutions.

Surprisingly, the Pixel 2 XL was one of the best performers on this benchmark, showing that extra RAM doesn't always make a difference. The iPhone 8 Plus is still the leader for this benchmark.



 

Battery Life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

The Pixel 2 XL has a fairly respectable 3,520mAh battery. Thanks to its power efficient pOLED display and the battery life improvements in Android 8.0 Oreo, the Pixel 2 XL lasted eleven and a half hours in our video looping benchmark.

The Pixel 2 XL supports fast charging and comes with an 18W USB-C power adapter that gives it seven hours of battery life - or about 40 percent charge - in just 15 minutes. Do note that while there were some rumors circulating that the Pixel 2 XL could support up to 27W charging with a third-party adaptor, Google has since clarified that, while the USB port on the Pixel 2 XL is technically capable of supporting 27W charging, the circuitry and battery itself are not - you'll get the fastest charging rate by using the supplied adaptor.

It's worth noting that, despite the glass panel on the back seeming to suggest it would, the Pixel 2 XL does not actually support wireless charging.

 

Conclusion

The Google Pixel 2 XL is an interesting phone that has a lot going for it, but also some major drawbacks to take note of.

For starters, while we like the extra-tall 6-inch screen, the pOLED display itself leaves much to be desired with noticeable graininess and color banding issues. The rear camera has the capability to be one of the best we've seen, and takes amazing stills, but its Portrait Mode is lacking and the UI feels unfinished. And while Google gives you unlimited photo storage for life on Google Photos, internally, you only get 64GB, which is woefully inadequate (if you can get your hands on the 128GB version, this is a much better option, but locally, Singtel is only bringing in the 64GB option). 

It's also difficult to get your hands on a Pixel 2 XL. Right now, the only official option locally is to sign a 2-year contract with Singtel, and Singtel's handset prices for each of their six combo plans are a little on the high side.

All things considered, the Pixel 2 XL probably isn't the phone for everyone. Pure Android fans will love being the first to get updates, security patches, and new features like Google Lens, but with so many other flagship smartphones out there, and with most Android manufacturers now offering a UI experience that's fairly close to stock Android anyway (yes, even Samsung), you may be better off choosing a phone without so many caveats. If you really have to have a Pixel smartphone, I would actually consider importing the smaller Pixel 2 instead. While it has a more conventional design, it does have a Full HD AMOLED display, which doesn't have the same issues plaguing the Pixel 2 XL's pOLED display.

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8.0
  • Design 8.5
  • Features 8
  • User-Friendliness 8
  • Performance 8.5
  • Value 7
The Good
Pure Android OS
Tall 6-inch display in a 5.5-inch size body
Excellent still photos in good light
The Bad
pOLED display has issues
Only 64GB internal storage
Portrait and Panorama modes could be better
Only available on Singtel contract and pretty expensive
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