Google Pixel 2 XL Review Part 1 of 2 | Early Impressions of the Design, Display and Performance

Pixel 2 XL is the second in line in the Pixel smartphone lineup, and the first to finally make it onto the shores of Singapore. Now that Google is confident enough to bring it to several more countries than before, is the Pixel 2 XL a device worth getting? Read on to find out more about Google's current flagship product.


The display of the Pixel 2 XL is nothing to scoff at. Making use of LG's OLED technology, the Pixel 2 XL has a beautiful display. When it comes to viewing 16:9 videos, black bars that appear on the sides of the device are not noticeable, even in the dark. This is thanks to OLED display producing deep blacks that mask parts of the screen whose pixels are turned off.

Despite some owners reporting that the screen having burn-in issues, there is none with our unit. YMMV though.

When it comes to third-party support of the aspect ratio, it can be a little tricky. Applications or games that do not support the 18:9 resolution can display some odd behaviors. One such example can be seen below, where the game expects the on-screen navigation bar to remain, but the Pixel 2 XL automatically hides them. As a result, there is a black gap on one side of the screen, reducing the level of immersion that the game would have otherwise provided.

This is as expected as contents have not been created/adapted to it. Additionally, it is more of the fault of the Android and developers, and less on the aspect ratio itself.

Initially, there were obvious differences between the Pixel 2 XL's display when compared to other smartphones. One big one would be the screen being a lot more 'washed out' and was not showing as wide of a range of colors. Thankfully, Google released a new patch in November which enabled a "Saturated" color setting, together with several other improvements and fixes. This made the screen colors more vivid and display a wider range of colors, like many are used to. So, make sure you do update your device to the latest version to take full advantage of the OLED display.

Following Motorola's Active Display, Google also implemented their version of Always-On Display. Your notifications can now be easily viewable without lifting a finger. It can also be especially handy if you have a phone dock.


Following the 18:9 aspect ratio trend, Pixel 2 XL now has a 1440 x 2880 pixel 6-inch display. This resulted in a longer body that allows for more content to be seen at once, which is also IP67 water and dust resistant now! *Hurray* On the other hand, this made the notification bar and fingerprint sensor harder to reach with just a single hand. This can make features like Swipe Fingerprint for Notification quite inconvenient.

The fingerprint sensor's location might not be to one's liking. Yes, your finger naturally rests at the proximity of the sensor when the device is in using it. However, I still find myself missing the sensor being at the front. This can be due to how convenient it is to unlock the device on the go, as your thumb are instinctively placed on the sensor while pulling it out of the pocket. Additionally, it is also much easier to unlock the device when it is placed on the dock/table, with no need to pick up the phone.

The speakers of the Pixel 2 XL is by no means special or amazing. However, using it still feels and sounds great all thanks to the speakers being dual front-facing. This is more apparent when using it, after coming from a smartphone with bottom or rear-firing speakers. Music sounds clearer, with the audio being played in your ears' direction. Ah... Dual front facing speakers, you have been missed.

Like its predecessor, the Google's latest flagship sports the iconic mix of glass and aluminum back. This mix of glossy and matt finish makes the rear of the device look striking and unique. Not to mention, the aluminum material has a extremely grippy feel which makes holding the device more comforting than holding an all-glass device such as the S8 or iPhone X.

The entire product also feels 'homely' with the addition of their Fabric cases. The design choice of the textured fabric can be seen being plastered all over their lineup - from their Google Mini to the case of the Google Pixel Buds. The soft and textured feel it has helps the phone blend in with the clothing or furniture around you, which makes using the Pixel 2 XL feel 'at home'.


Powered by the latest Snapdragon processor, the Pixel 2 XL's performance is nothing to scoff at. Although benchmarks cannot simply be a basis of how well the device performs or is in everyday use, it still provides a good baseline. Below are the benchmark results of the Pixel 2 XL.

When it came to first impressions, the Pixel 2 XL did a great job. Not only did it look great, handling it also felt comfortable. There were some slight flaws with the device, but so far, the pros outweigh the cons.

Do check out our in-depth review of the entire User Experience of the smartphone.

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