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.
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.
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|
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
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%.