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Google Pixel 2 review: Hands on with Google’s answer to the iPhone 8

Google’s inevitable iPhone 8 riposte is here. It was obvious Google would throw its hat into the ring once again, following the success of the iPhone 7-beating Pixel last year. The Pixel 2 is primed to make a much more hard-hitting point this year: there’s always a spot for Android in your pocket.

Google’s annual “Made by Google” event has just wrapped up, with the firm announcing a handful of different products under the Google name. We got our greasy mitts on all of them, from the Pixelbook 2-in-1 laptop to the pint-sized Google Home Mini, but we’re here to talk about the Pixel 2.

Google Pixel 2 review: UK release date, price and specifications

Screen: 5in Full HD OLED
CPU: Octa-core 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB and 128GB
Camera: 12-megapixel f/1.8 OIS
UK price: £629 and £729
UK release date: 19 October 2017

Google Pixel 2 review: Design, key features and first impressions

Google’s Pixel handsets are the torchbearers of Android and are the firm’s top-tier flagships. A double act, both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are near-identical in terms of design, but with one obvious difference.

If you’re already familiar with last year’s effort, 2017’s design won’t surprise you. The Pixel 2 XL and its regular-sized alternative retain the two-tone design of their predecessors. Again, you either love it or loathe it.

From the front, both phones look indistinguishable from 2017’s other flagships, but turn them over and we’re treated to the same mash-up of glossy glass and matte aluminium. The glass panel isn’t so chunky this time around, taking up roughly 1/8th of the rear, but the differences end there.

The circular fingerprint reader still sits on the back, and you’ll find a solitary USB-C port on the bottom for charging. The left-hand edge houses both the power button and volume rocker.

Are we missing something? Yep, the Pixel 2 XL doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack. A surprising move considering Google’s mockery of Apple last year, so you better invest in a good pair of Bluetooth headphones. Or alternatively, get familiar with the supplied USB-C to 3.5mm adapter. There’s also IP68 dust- and water-resistance.

Despite rumours suggesting otherwise, the Pixel 2 is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 processor, as opposed to the as-yet-unannounced Snapdragon 836 chipset. That’s not to say the 835 is no slouch by any means; 2017’s latest and greatest flagships are all powered by it.

The processor works in tandem with 4GB of RAM and a choice of either 64GB or 128GB of storage. Like last year, there’s no microSD expansion, but you’ll find a 3,520mAh battery on the inside, up from last year’s 2,770mAh.

Sadly, the Pixel 2 doesn’t utilise the same edge-to-edge QHD display of the bigger, Pixel 2 XL, but instead, we’re treated to a regular 5in Full HD panel, bezels and all. It might be jarring to head back to the norm (especially after using the S8+ as my main device for months), but Google has plonked on a decent looking display nonetheless.

Last but not least is the camera. Again, we’re treated to an identical 12-megapixel rear snapper with f/1.8 aperture, but with optical image stabilisation (OIS) for seriously stable shots. I didn’t spend enough time with the camera as I’d have liked, but if last year’s Pixel is any indication of what to expect, I can’t see the Pixel 2 disappointing.

Google Pixel 2 review: Early verdict

Once again, Google is leading the charge when it comes to Android handsets. It might be sticking with same uninspired design as last years – and lacks the bezel-less display of its supersized sibling – but a much-needed processor upgrade and camera improvements should see the Pixel 2 rocket to the top of our smartphone hierarchy.

Here’s hoping the Pixel 2 makes the same lasting impression as last year’s effort. One thing’s for sure, we won’t have long to find out.

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