Google Pixel 2 XL review

GSMArena team, 30 October 2017.

Display

The Google Pixel 2 XL is equipped with a 6-inch QHD+ P-OLED display with 18:9 aspect ratio. This display is protected by a "3D" layer of Gorilla Glass 5, which is tapered all the way around and protrudes past the phone's frame. This is certainly an attractive design choice by Google.

The Pixel 2 XL's P-OLED panel offers a resolution of 1440 x 2880 pixels. These specs work out to 538 ppi - perfectly sharp even when subjected to extreme pixel-peeping scrutiny and offer plenty of details to use with the Daydream VR headset. The phone offers a "Display size" setting that adjusts the UI scaling with a separate setting for font size.

Display Settings - Google Pixel 2 Xl review Display Settings - Google Pixel 2 Xl review Display Settings - Google Pixel 2 Xl review Display Settings - Google Pixel 2 Xl review
Display Settings

The sub-pixel arrangement of the P-OLED display is unsurprisingly familiar. It's the Diamond Pentile matrix seen on most other phones with AMOLED screens.

Google Pixel 2 Xl review

We measured a maximum brightness of 496 nits on our Pixel 2 XL review unit, which is a solid number and about 70 nits brighter than the original Pixel XL. There is no auto brightness overdrive mode in a bright light unlike Samsung phones, which can go way higher than that. Still, combined with the deep blacks of OLED technology, you are guaranteed an infinite contrast ratio just like on Samsung AMOLED phones.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Max Auto) 0 647
Samsung Galaxy S8+ (Max auto) 0 647
Apple iPhone 8 Plus (Max Auto) 0.471 621 1318
LG V30 (Max Auto) 0.032 616 19250
HTC U11 (Max Auto) 0.373 583 1563
Huawei P10 Plus 0.335 547 1633
Apple iPhone 8 Plus (True Tone) 0.392 530 1352
Apple iPhone 8 Plus (Standard) 0.392 530 1352
Google Pixel 2 XL 0 496
HTC U11 0.308 483 1568
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 0 442
OnePlus 5 0 435
LG V30 0.002 414 207000
Samsung Galaxy Note8 0 412

The Pixel 2 XL posted a very respectable score in our sunlight legibility test. It's not quite up there with the Galaxy S8 and S8+, but it still surpasses the Note8 and also the LG V30 (with which it likely shares the screen panel).

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    4.768
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    4.658
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Play
    4.459
  • Oppo R11
    4.454
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Nokia 8
    4.239
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
    4.234
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    4.148
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    4.147
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
    4.124
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro (normal)
    4.096
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • LG V30
    4.022
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 8 (True Tone)
    3.957
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
    3.935
  • Lenovo Moto Z
    3.931
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • OnePlus 5
    3.914
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    3.818
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    3.812
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    3.804
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    3.767
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    3.765
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact
    3.729
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus (True Tone)
    3.725
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.688
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra
    3.597
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • LG G6
    3.556
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.526
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    3.456
  • HTC U Ultra
    3.453
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Huawei P10
    3.379
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    3.378
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Honor 8 Pro
    3.341
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Lenovo P2
    3.316
  • Honor 9
    3.289
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Nokia 5
    3.261
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    3.244
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    3.238
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Oppo F3 Plus
    3.218
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    3.206
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    3.19
  • ZTE Nubia Z17
    3.159
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • HTC U11
    3.089
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Sony Xperia XA1
    3.012
  • Sony Xperia L1
    2.994
  • Huawei P10 Lite
    2.974
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    2.92
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.893
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium (sRGB)
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Nokia 3
    2.871
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Lenovo Moto M
    2.813
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Huawei Mate 10 (normal)
    2.742
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    2.714
  • Meizu M5
    2.71
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    2.689
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Doogee Mix
    2.642
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4a
    2.635
  • Xiaomi Mi 5X (Standard)
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Meizu M5s
    2.58
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Xiaomi Mi Max 2
    2.561
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Lenovo K6 Note
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • Xiaomi Mi 5X (Auto)
    2.417
  • HTC 10 evo
    2.407
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Oppo F3
    2.376
  • vivo V5 Plus
    2.371
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Meizu M5 Note
    2.189
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (X20)
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Mi 4S
    2.095
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • vivo V5
    2.059
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

The Pixel 2 XL's screen has been the topic of some quite heated discussions since its release in the US (it launches in Europe next month). It's been taking heavy criticism for a number of observed issues.

Some users report a burn-in - where the screen would retain the outline of UI elements which it shows for a long time (like the navigation bar) even when they are not shown on the screen - all in a matter of several days. We didn't experience such issue on our Pixel XL 2 unit, though we probably haven't used the phone long enough for anything to stick on the screen.

Burn-in has always been a concern for OLED panels and manufacturers have been working around that for years now. Google is now promising to fight it by reducing the maximum brightness of the panel by about 50 nits. The company also claims it's an expected limitation by the technology.

Early reports of Android 8.1 reveal that the future update will dim the navigation keys from white to gray to help prevent burn-in. The keys would change from gray, back to white, when a button on the navigation bar is pressed.

However, the other major issue associated with the Pixel 2 XL's panel is not that easy to address.If you angle the Pixel 2 XL even slightly, nasty greenish-blue color shifts start taking over your display. Looking the display head-on seems to work out fine, but we are talking about a very narrow window here. Any angle past 15 degrees or so to the sides and the wave of cold blue creeps in. Top and bottom angles are a bit more forgiving, but not by a lot.

A heavy bluish cast sets in as soon as you look the screen at even a slight angle

Given the Pixel 2 XL's association with LG and the obvious panel similarities with the V30, we took a look at it as well. The V30 also suffers from unpleasant color shifts of nearly the same color and intensity. Just to clarify, the Samsung Galaxy Note8 - which we also roped in for testing, showed no such ailment. So Google can't exactly keep a straight face and blame this on inherent deficiencies of OLED technology.

The Pixel 2 XL's display is not incredibly color accurate either. Out of the box, we measured an average deltaE of 3.8 and a maximum of 5.5. And since Google didn't include any manual color correction options, this is as good of a tuning as you can expect.

It's not the worst reading we've seen but the unusual thing here is that the display is tuned with an unusually low color vibrancy - at least as far as AMOLED phones go. Colors look bland and dull and we still struggle to get used to this.

There is a Vivid color mode in the settings menu (this is the default setting), which brings a bit of extra "pop" to the color palette by about 10%, according to Google. The search giant is promising it will be delivering a software update which will allow users to increase saturation even further. We just wish Google offered more customization for screen tuning like Samsung and LG offer in their custom UIs so we can tune the display to our liking.

Connectivity

The Google Pixel 2 XL offers plenty of connectivity options. For starters, the Google Pixel XL supports up to Cat 15 LTE speeds (800/75 Mbps) [3x DL CA, 4x4 MIMO, 256-QAM DL and 64-QAM UL depending on carrier support]. 3G bands 1/2/4/5/8, and Quad-band 2G networks are also supported.

The Google Pixel 2 XL supports Sprint and Verizon's CDMA networks in the US and all other GSM carriers in the US and ROW. Both Pixel smartphones are also eSIM compatible for use on Google's Project Fi network in the US. For all other carriers, a nanoSIM slot is in order. There is no microSD card slot in the SIM tray.

The Google Pixel 2 also uses Bluetooth 5.0 + LE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and 2x2 MIMO. NFC connectivity offers mobile payments through your payment app of choice and communication with other NFC devices, tags, etc.

There's a new feature for Wi-Fi as part of Android 8.0. Wi-Fi scanning (usually used when Wi-Fi is switched off to help with location accuracy) is used to detect nearby Wi-Fi networks and will automatically turn on Wi-Fi and connect to a saved network when one is detected nearby. We're not entirely sure how this is much different from leaving Wi-Fi on all the time, but okay.

Wi-Fi network automatically turned on/off - Google Pixel 2 Xl review
Wi-Fi network automatically turned on/off

Google has removed the headphone jack for this generation of Pixel smartphones in favor of routing audio to the USB-C port - which supports USB v3.1 connectivity. GPS and GLONASS positioning systems are supported.

Instant Tethering is a relatively new feature that works with other Nexus or Pixel devices including the incoming Pixel Book. A Nexus tablet on the same Gmail account as the Pixel 2 XL can prompt you to connect to the phone's cellular connection by automatically turning on its Hotspot and tethering to the network. This requires both devices to have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi switched on.

Battery life test

Battery capacity gets a minor bump over the previous generation (~2% increase). The Pixel 2 XL has a 3,520 mAh non-removable Li-ion power pack, which is a fairly large battery to power the large 6-inch QHD+ display. By contrast, the LG V30 has a slightly smaller 3,300 mAh battery.

Battery endurance was quite good with the Pixel 2 XL. Although the overall score is better, not all aspects of battery life have been improved.

In our endurance tests, the Pixel 2 XL gathered 26:58h of talk time, 10:29h of web browsing, and 11:45h of video playback. Talk time was about 7 hours shorter on the new Pixel 2 XL than the Pixel XL got last year, but web browsing and video playback saw slight improvements in endurance over the Pixel XL, despite the added resolution. The Pixel 2 XL yielded an overall battery endurance score of 88h, 10h longer than the Pixel XL.

Google Pixel 2 Xl review

Our endurance rating indicates how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Google Pixel XL for an hour each of telephony, web browsing and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern so our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

We can attribute the increase in overall score (despite the drop in call endurance) to the improved standby times that come courtesy of Android 8. While standby times aren't shown in our scores, they are weighed and calculated in our overall scores.

Unlike many of its competitors, which mostly use some version of Qualcomm Quick Charge or a proprietary charging standard, the Pixel 2 XL uses the universal standard for USB-C charging called Power Delivery 2.0. We put it to the test by plugging the Pixel 2 XL to the included 18W (9V @ 2A or 5V @ 3A) charger with a totally depleted battery.

The battery charged from 0 to 35% in 30 minutes. We do admit that this charging rate felt a bit slow, so we gave the test a second go and ended up with the same result. However, we let the phone charge for another 30 minutes longer and found an interesting advantage of Power Delivery 2.0.

Even though the battery only charged to 35% in the first half-hour, it was able to reach 71% in the end of the full hour of charging. This means the rate was consistent in the first hour of charging and did not slow down once it reached half capacity. By contrast, many Quick Charge smartphones tend to switch to a slower wattage once the battery has reached 50%.

Reader comments

  • Santhosh

I am currently using a physical sim in my phone and is there an option where I can get a secondary sim thru e-sim? Appreciate if anyone can clear my doubt. Thanks..

  • bob

that's a shame

  • Anonymous

No it doesn't