Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL Review

It's not as elegantly designed as an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy phone.

Google-branded smartphones first made their debut with the Nexus One handset back in 2010, made in collaboration with HTC and designed to offer a pure Android experience. The company brags that the Pixel 2's camera is the best one on the market, having earned the highest marks ever for a phone from DxO Mark, a respected image rating group.

Google notes that the IPU uses two domain-specific languages: Halide for image processing and - no surprise there - TensorFlow for machine learning applications.

Now Google is looking to build upon its Pixel prowess with the Pixel 2. By shifting this workload from the all-purpose processor to a dedicated custom image processor, Google expects processing to be 500% faster on its new Pixel phones, at a tenth of the energy cost compared to the default image processing in the Snapdragon 835 SoC. The camera on the original Pixel performed well and the new one scored best-ever ratings on a leading industry benchmark. More importantly, the technology works offline, meaning it doesn't have to communicate with external servers in order to obtain the information about a certain song.

The feature correctly identified paintings of obscure figures in American history at a museum in New York, and it knew which Starbucks I was standing in front of, out of several in the neighborhood.

You can see the results in the image just above.

The Pixel 2 also introduces a "portrait" mode, which blurs out backgrounds to focus attention on the subjects. The difference is pretty stunning.

Which brings us to the Pixel, first introduced last year as true Google phone, carrying the company logo for the first time and meant to be a watershed moment for Google's hardware business. It will go live with the upcoming Android 8.1 Oreo Developer Preview, which will launch in the coming weeks.

Outside of the HDR+ access for developers, Google also says that they have a whole bunch of stuff lined up that'll be able to take advantage as well.

When selecting a wallpaper on the Pixel 2, choosing and applying one with mostly dark colors will darken certain elements of the UI so that they're much more fitting for the wallpaper you've selected.

What you get in the $650 Pixel 2 is a great workhorse. And the home screen now prominently shows the next appointment on your calendar, ensuring you never forget a theater showtime or restaurant reservation. But the devices are running a lovely, uncluttered version of Android that weaves in the very latest Googley innovations and a handful of inspired tricks. One big fear for users, however, is burn-in. Take a picture of a London landmark, for example, and Lens can tell you what building you are looking at and then tell you more about it. As we discover more interesting tidbits about these new Google phones, we'll be sure to share. Especially tricky is the act of stretching your thumb to the top of the display, to drag down the notifications bar.

One-time heavyweight uber-prospect Todd Duffee was also dumped unceremoniously in the last year, falling by the wayside after losing to Mike Russow and complaining about life as a starving fighter.

Note that by heading to your Pixel's storage menu inside of the settings, you can also clear your cache and junk files away. Here's how they avoid burn-in. The Pixel 2 gets a 5-inch AMOLED screen, with a traditional 1920×1080 16:9 resolution. The very first Pixel phone managed to squash most, but not all, of those doubts. This is common these days, as more power comes through software updates rather than hardware.

The badNo headphone jack, Active Edge is gimmicky, poor viewing angles. It is similar enough to its predecessor to be recognizable as a Pixel yet changes enough that it feels like a completely different beast altogether.

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