Google has been making flagship phones for years, but last year's Google Pixel is arguably its most successful phone to date. With a great camera, an eye-catching design, and running a clean version of Android without any of the junk found on other phones, the Pixel was one of our favorite phones.
Google has just announced the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, and it seems like they're better in every way. But how do they stack up to the top phones on the market like the iPhone 8, iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S8, and the Galaxy Note 8? Here's how they compare by the numbers.
Google is sticking with a similar design to last year's Pixel with the Pixel 2, highlighted by the two-tone back and a rear-mounted home button with a built-in fingerprint sensor. It's a bit weird if you're used to unlocking your phone with the home button on front, but you get used to it, and Google claims the Pixel 2's sensor is the fastest around.
The Samsung S8, Note 8, and the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus all feature a home button on the front of the phone. The iPhones integrate the fingerprint sensor into the button while the Samsung phones have their fingerprint sensor on the back. That's been the source of a lot of complaints, though, as the sensor is tucked in among the camera and flash and can be difficult to find. The iPhone X features Apple's newfangled facial recognition unlocking system.
The other major design element on these phones is of course the display. Here's how the screen sizes differ:
Apple iPhone 8: 4.7-inch LCD
Google Pixel 2: 5-inch OLED
Apple iPhone 8 Plus: 5.5-inch LCD
Apple iPhone X: 5.8-inch AMOLED
Galaxy S8: 5.8-inch AMOLED
Google Pixel 2 XL: 6-inch pOLED
Galaxy S8+: 6.2-inch AMOLED
Galaxy Note 8: 6.3-inch AMOLED
While the screens on phones continue to get larger, we're actually seeing some big screen phones that are easier to hold in one hand. This is because phone makers are getting better at shrinking the bezels, the dead space that surrounds a screen. That means you get a larger display while the phones stay the same size.
Even still, we expect the 5-inch Google Pixel 2 to be easy to hold and use in one hand compared to some of the bigger phones on the market—especially if you're accustomed to the relatively small 4.7-inch iPhones. The 6-inch screen on the Pixel 2 XL is a big change from the 5.5-inch display on the original Pixel XL, but the phone has smaller bezels so it could be fine.
2. The Camera
Pretty much any top phone you buy these days is going to be fast, and Android and iOS both have access to all the top apps you're going to want. One area where there are still big differences? The camera.
Google's original Pixel featured a best-in-class camera that relied on Google's in-house "image fusion" technique to product amazing HDR photos. Despite relying on slightly older camera hardware, Google's Pixel was actually better and faster in low light than most of its competition.
Though we won't know for sure how the Pixel 2 does until we test it in our camera labs, the rest of the pack has caught up with Google. We've been blown away by what the iPhone 8 Plus, the Samsung S8, and the Galaxy Note 8 have been able to do in our camera labs. We expect the Pixel 2 to beat out the old Pixel, too, but it remains to be seen if it's still the best around, as Google claims.
3. Other Features
As you'd expect with a phone launch, Google showed of all kinds of fancy tricks that the new Pixel 2 can pull off: Launching the Google assistant by squeezing your phone; using Google Lens to identify phone numbers, objects, and other things in the real world; and an always-listening microphone that can tell you what song is playing around you, without you needing to ask.
While these things always sound cool, it remains to be seen how useful they will be in the real world, so we'll reserve judgement on these until we get our hands on the new phones to test.
Similarly, the new Pixels are also billed as "water resistant" (as are all the iPhone and Samsung models), but we won't know how resistant until we try them out.
Lastly, though it's not a "feature" so much as the lack of one, the most jarring difference for people upgrading from an older phone will be the lack of a headphone jack. The Samsung phones all still have one, but there's no longer an analog headphone jack on the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X, or the new Pixel phones. All of the jackless phones come with dongles to plug your analog headphones into the charging port (USB-C on the Pixels, Lightning on the iPhones), but you'll need to keep it with you.
4. The Price
The Google Pixel 2 is expected to retail for $649 for the entry-level 64GB model, with the Pixel 2 XL starting at $849. That makes the smaller Pixel 2 one of the cheapest flagship-quality phones you can buy, at least compared to the latest from Samsung and Apple. Here are the current list prices for unlocked entry-level models:
Apple iPhone 8: $699.99
Apple iPhone 8 Plus: $799.99
Apple iPhone X: $999.99 (pre-orders begin 10/27)
Samsung Galaxy S8: $724.99
Samsung Galaxy S8+: $824.99
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: $929.99
These prices fluctuate all the time, of course, especially if you take advantage of offers at various wireless carriers. But just looking at the list prices, the Google Pixel 2 models are competitively priced.