Pixel 2 - Google's next smartphone unveiled

Last year, Google’s own-brand smartphone range was launched, in an attempt to help the search giant compete directly against Apple’s all-conquering iPhone. Cut to 12 months later and the Pixel 2 has landed, in both standard and XL forms. So how does it stack up in comparison with the iPhone X and its other major rivals?

Smart simplicity

Something which Google was keen to emphasise during its announcement of the Pixel 2 range is the idea that although these devices are more advanced than their predecessors, they should also be easier for people to use from day to day. Quite how this ideology will manifest itself in practice remains to be seen, but at the core of the user experience is the all-new Android 8.0 operating system, also known as Oreo. This boasts various advantages over earlier versions of the platform, including start-up times that take half as long as in the past, along with picture-in-picture capabilities, to expand upon existing multitasking features.

Another big selling point of these devices is their always-on displays and associated functionalities. By making use of OLED panels, which consume minimal power compared with traditional backlit LCD screens, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will be able to provide information at a glance, without requiring the user to press any buttons to fire up the display. The time, date and notifications will always be there, making the lock screen more engaging.

Aside from the touch sensitivity of the display itself, there will be other ways to interact with these phones, without relying on physical keys. Much like HTC’s recent flagships, they will respond to being squeezed, meaning that the Google Assistant service can be activated in an instant, with home buttons becoming a thing of the past.

More real than real

Augmented and virtual reality technologies are permeating many different marketplaces at the moment, and Google is not looking to be left behind in this arms race. Hence the Pixel 2 range is ready and willing to offer support for VR via its high-res displays, as well as a range of clever software that can augment any scene at which the camera is pointed in real time. Animated characters can interact with actual physical subjects and there will be tie-ins with major movie and sporting franchises, including Star Wars, to add yet more interactivity and content. In fact, the entire camera setup has been adapted specifically to work well in this mind-bending way. With an emphasis on artificial intelligence and how it influences some of the phones’ key features being apparent in the launch presentation, even more exciting things are just around the corner.

Output changes

As suspected, the Pixel 2 does away with the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack, meaning that it can no longer stand out from Apple’s latest handsets by claiming to cater to music lovers who do not want to use Bluetooth earbuds or use an adapter. To counteract criticism, Google has dramatically improved the integrated speakers, which should provide impressive audio playback capabilities. This in itself is not a unique feature, as HTC has championed this area of smartphone hardware in the past.

If people who pick up the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL are forced to carry around yet more expensive accessories and add-ons so they can enjoy all of its multimedia potential, the argument for investing in mobile phone insurance will be stronger than ever. With gadget insurance that can cover several devices, you can pair cheap phone insurance with protection for headphones and other items, so that you have a backup plan when disaster strikes.