Google Pixel 2 review: Hands on with Google’s iPhone 8 challenger

Google’s inevitable iPhone 8 riposte is here. It was obvious Google would throw its hat into the ring once again, following the success of the iPhone 7-beating Pixel last year. The Pixel 2 is primed to make a much more hard-hitting point this year: there’s always a spot for Android in your pocket.

READ NEXT: The best smartphones of 2017 (so far)

Google’s annual “Made by Google” event has passed, with the firm announcing a handful of different products under the Google name. We got our greasy mitts on all of them, from the Pixelbook 2-in-1 laptop to the pint-sized Google Home Mini, but we’re here to talk about the Pixel 2.

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Google Pixel 2 review: UK release date, price and specifications

Screen: 5in Full HD OLED
CPU: Octa-core 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Storage: 64GB and 128GB
Camera: 12-megapixel f/1.8 OIS
UK price: £629 and £729 
UK release date: 19 October 2017

Google Pixel 2 review: Design, key features and first impressions

Google’s Pixel handsets are the torchbearers of Android and are the firm’s top-tier flagships. A double act, both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are near-identical in terms of design, but with one obvious difference.

If you’re already familiar with last year’s effort, 2017’s design won’t surprise you. The Pixel 2 XL and its regular-sized alternative retain the two-tone design of their predecessors. Again, you either love it or loathe it.

From the front, both phones look indistinguishable from 2017’s other flagships, but turn them over and we’re treated to the same mash-up of glossy glass and matte aluminium. The glass panel isn’t so chunky this time around, taking up roughly 1/8th of the rear, but the differences end there.

The circular fingerprint reader still sits on the back, and you’ll find a solitary USB Type-C port on the bottom for charging. The left-hand edge houses both the power button and volume rocker.

Are we missing something? Yep, the Pixel 2 doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack. A surprising move considering Google’s mockery of Apple last year, so you better invest in a good pair of Bluetooth headphones. Or alternatively, get familiar with the supplied USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter. There’s also IP68 dust- and water-resistance.

Google’s “Active Edge” activates Google Assistant and you can ask it a question without pressing a single button. Think of it as the same as the HTC U11 feature, but now with machine learning to know when it’s an actual squeeze instead of an accidental one.

Despite rumours suggesting otherwise, the Pixel 2 is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 processor, as opposed to the as-yet-unannounced Snapdragon 836 chipset. That’s not to say the 835 is no slouch by any means; 2017’s latest and greatest flagships are all powered by it.

The processor works in tandem with 4GB of RAM and a choice of either 64GB or 128GB of storage. Like last year, there’s no microSD expansion, but you’ll find a 3,520mAh battery on the inside, up from last year’s 2,770mAh.

Sadly, the Pixel 2 doesn’t utilise the same edge-to-edge QHD display of the bigger, Pixel 2 XL, but instead, we’re treated to a regular 5in Full HD panel, bezels and all. It might be jarring to head back to the norm (especially after using the S8+ as my main device for months), but Google has plonked on a decent looking display nonetheless.

Last but not least is the camera. Again, we’re treated to an identical 12-megapixel rear snapper with f/1.8 aperture, but with optical image stabilisation (OIS) for seriously stable shots. I didn’t spend enough time with the camera as I’d have liked, but if last year’s Pixel is any indication of what to expect, I can’t see the Pixel 2 disappointing.

Google Pixel 2 review: Early verdict

Once again, Google is leading the charge when it comes to Android handsets. It might be sticking with same uninspired design as last year’s – and lacks the bezel-less display of its supersized sibling – but a much-needed processor upgrade and camera improvements should see the Pixel 2 rocket to the top of our smartphone hierarchy.

Here’s hoping the Pixel 2 makes the same lasting impression as last year’s effort. One thing’s for sure, we won’t have long to find out.

Processor Octa-core 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Screen size 5in
Screen resolution 1,920 x 1,080
Screen type AMOLED
Front camera 8-megapixel
Rear camera 12.2-megapixel
Flash dual-LED
Compass Yes
Storage (free) 64/128GB
Memory card slot (supplied) N/A
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 5.0
Wireless data 4G
Dimensions 145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8 mm
Weight 143g
Operating system Android 5.0
Battery size 2,700mAh

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