There has been no shortage of controversy surrounding Google's latest cell phone, the Pixel 2 XL, since it was launched less than a month ago. While initial reviews showed the Pixel 2 line in a very positive light, the display of the Pixel 2 XL dominated the discussion on the Internet days later. Problem after problem kept popping up, from poor viewing angles to branding, and Google tried to respond.
Since the error in the display developed rapidly and a reaction was to be expected at any time, I decided to publish my review of the Pixel 2 XL until the situation calmed down. This also gave me more time to analyze the phone, especially its display, and to present my opinion based on facts. So, if you want to get a complete judgment on why the Pixel 2 XL's display is not up to date and what (if any) software can improve, see the "Display" section below on this page.
Aside from the phone's display, Pixel 2 XL has a lot of great technology. This phone is almost the perfect Android device, and it hurts when its display keeps it from perfecting. I still think the Pixel 2 XL is a phone that you should buy.
First, let's talk about the basics.
The Pixel 2 XL has a 6.0-inch p-OLED display with 1440 x 2880 pixels and narrow bezels: the first and only phone in Google's product range with an impressive screen-to-body ratio. Not surprisingly, the Snapdragon 835 SoC, 4 GB of RAM, and either 64 or 128 GB of internal storage are powered. On the back is a 12.2-megapixel camera with a 1: 1.8 lens and OIS, combined with an 8-megapixel sensor on the front. And the battery? 3520 mAh.
All of this hardware has also resulted in a very expensive smartphone. The Pixel 2 XL is now priced at $ 849 for the 64GB model, or a whopping $ 949 if you want the 128GB model. You essentially pay an additional $ 200 for the larger display, since the smaller Pixel 2 offers almost identical hardware for $ 649.
In terms of design, the Pixel 2 XL is hands down the best looking handset ever launched by Google. I found last year's pixel ugly, with thick bezels and an uncomfortable glass plate on the back. The Nexus 6P that came before wasn't much better. However, the Pixel 2 XL is a much more sophisticated handset.
Yes, there is still the striking glass top on the back, but it's much better integrated into the design. The metal body fits perfectly in the hand and the matt coating makes gripping easier. The edges are rounded on all sides, the seams between glass and metal on the front are narrow and in general this phone is comfortable to hold. In addition, it only has this premium touch with a pleasant, modern, minimalist aesthetic that fits with Google's current design strategy.
The Pixel 2 XL is reserved on the back, but on the front everything is party. The 6.0-inch 18: 9 OLED occupies most of the usable space with a decent screen-to-body ratio of 76.4%. Google has checked all boxes from a design point of view. Even if the frames are not as small as those of competitors like the iPhone X and the Galaxy Note 8, we like it.
As an advocate of the detail, I have found that the bezel is not straight. It's 8.5mm down and 12mm up, which makes the front of the display look misaligned. This is one of the things you cannot miss when you first see it. Therefore, a note to Google here: perfect symmetry is best.
On a positive note, Google (or is it LG?) Has managed to stuff stereo front speakers into the case, making it ideal for content and game consumption. The speakers are loud and decent for a smartphone.
Google installed front speakers, but removed the headphone jack, which I personally don't like. There is still no good reason why a phone cannot contain both a 3.5mm audio jack and USB-C. You can still connect wireless headphones and USB-C headphones to a phone with USB-C and 3.5mm audio. In addition, the entire USB-C to 3.5mm audio dongle situation is a garbage fire. I am disappointed that Google had to make such a decision. Locking in the headphone ecosystem is becoming a real thing, and that's a shame.
No wonder the Pixel 2 XL has a fingerprint sensor on the back, which was the standard for the last three phone generations from Google. It is in the perfect position for ease of use and, in my opinion, surpasses many other implementations for unlocking fingerprints or facial recognition technologies at this stage.
The Pixel 2 XL is waterproof, which is another necessary component. Water resistance is one of those properties that are essential for a top-end smartphone these days. However, do not use the Pixel 2 XL in salt water.
If you are wondering whether the Pixel 2 XL or Pixel 2 is easier to hold and use, this crown goes to the smaller Pixel 2. Still, I had no problems holding or operating the Pixel 2 XL and its large display. even in one hand. The screen is spacious, but the small frame size supports usability.
For minor problems, the camera protrudes slightly from the body, which can cause it to scratch after frequent use. There is no microSD extension typical for Google smartphones, although this would have been a good addition considering that adding an additional 64 GB of internal storage costs $ 100.
Display: hardware problems
The most controversial aspect of the Pixel 2 XL is its display. Google has used a LG p-OLED panel (6.0 ", 2880 x 1440, 18: 9 ratio) that offers all the advantages and problems with a higher aspect ratio. For example, 16: 9 videos are displayed with pillar boxing unless you zoom the video in. The good news is that most popular applications now support extended aspect ratio.
Before discussing the Pixel 2 XL display issues, I wanted to address some of the more basic features and the things that Google did right. With OLED technology, the panel essentially has an infinite contrast and deep black tones. deeper than any LCD can offer. The advantage is that colors burst more than an LCD screen and the display uses less power to produce black. In addition, OLED panels are thinner, so the phones themselves can be thinner.
OLEDs also tend to have lower persistence and shorter pixel response times than LCDs, making them more suitable for VR applications. Daydream VR is an important pillar of Google's Android and pixel strategies. So it made sense for them to use OLED.
In some aspects, the display is quite similar to other OLEDs. Due to its high pixel density (538 ppi), a diamond sub-pixel arrangement is used that has less "real" details than the RGB strip used in LCDs. This is not a big deal with this type of pixel density. The brightness is also pretty typical at 437 nits (100% APL). Samsung's flagship phones are higher than this with their sunlight modes, but most other OLED smartphones don't fall below the acceptable 400-nit mark. The Pixel 2 XL is not difficult to see outdoors.
However, it is clear that LG's OLED mobile display technology is several generations behind Samsung, the market leader. There are several basic hardware issues with this panel – issues that Samsung has solved through years of technical improvements – that cannot be fixed by software updates.
Look at the Pixel 2 XL directly with a white screen …
The first problem is the biggest one: terrible viewing angles. Even the slightest deviation leads to a noticeable shade of blue, so you have to look at the display directly to get an ideal experience. I'm not 100% sure whether this is a problem with the control panel itself or another aspect of the display composition like a filter or another level, but it is a hardware problem that is immediately obvious. Samsung solved this problem a long time ago, so LG has to work hard to solve this problem with its next generation technology.
… and look at it at an angle
Uniformity is also an issue. This is usually not discussed in any smartphone test, as most OLEDs and LCDs are relatively even. The Pixel 2 XL's OLED has striking areas that are more yellow / reddish than others. In my test device, the middle area is a little too red in relation to the top and bottom. This is particularly noticeable if the display uses a white background. I have also seen some devices that are less uniform than my display.
LG's OLED technology is also more grainy than Samsung's. This is a unique problem that I haven't seen on many LCDs either. The grain appears as light, almost dust-like spots on the entire display. This is particularly noticeable at lower brightness and when displaying uniform white colors, e.g. B. when displaying the background of the Gmail or Twitter apps. In my opinion, this isn't as big a problem as viewing angles or uniformity, but with the grain, the display doesn't feel as sharp or clear as most other flagship phone displays.
The last hardware problem that has seen widespread reports is image burning / saving. My device suffered after about 4 days and it only gets worse after a few weeks. If you display a gray full screen, the outline of the navigation bar is clearly visible. With the Pixel 2, which uses a Samsung OLED, the burn-in is practically invisible.
I have tried to reduce the fire using a number of techniques, e.g. B. Running through a series of colors for hours, but this had little impact on the visibility of the fire in areas. I have to see how this affects over time as the display worsens with increasing use. The good news is that Google's latest software update includes some techniques that help reduce burn-in over time.
So what can you do about the Pixel 2 XL's hardware problems? Well, not a lot. These are all inherent problems with the hardware itself, so it cannot be completely solved by software. However, I will say that the only really noticeable problem in daily use is the poor viewing angles. If you don't look closely and try to figure out certain problems, you won't notice the regularity and grain problems every day.