I have just spent the last month using both the new Samsung S9+ and a Google Pixel XL as a second device.
The difference is significant, with the Samsung Galaxy S9 + delivering a true top end smartphone experience, this comparison is akin to a Lexus being ranked alongside a top end Mercedes or BMW.
One aspires, and the others are already the benchmarks in luxury driving machines.
Google is trying and unlike Microsoft they won’t throw in the towel, in fact their acquisition of the HTC research and development division last year is set to deliver a team of engineers who were producing some of the best smartphones out there, the only problem was that HTC did not have a clue about marketing their devices alongside the likes of Apple and Samsung and to a degree Google.
Google has the marketing capability to deliver but what they needed to seriously take on Apple and Samsung is a Smartphone that will get them right up into the faces of their competition.
Their recent success in the wireless market, when within weeks of launching their mesh network offering they were stripping double digit market share away from the market leaders for the simple reason that it was the product doing the talking.
What the $1,249 Google Pixel XL has is some clever artificial intelligence (AI) though there were times when I was using apps like mapping that it drove me mad trying to drown me in information that I did not need.
For example, you enter a street address and immediately the screen splits and you are offered access to nearby restaurants, ATM’s, petrol stations etc when all you need is the address you are going to.
Running Android 8.1.0 this device is packed with the latest Google software and all roads lead to revenue of some sort for Google.
The device is fast as it has a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon chip with 4GB RAM under the bonnet.
It’s also extremely comfortable in the hand and like the two-tone approach where the back of the device is primarily white, and the textured metal rear panel is designed to stop the device from slipping off surfaces. There is also a black strip across the top where the camera is located.
What I don’t like is the slightly curved front glass screen which I suspect could crack if placed face down on the wrong surface.
Like the LG V30 this device also has control button on the back which is so easy to use.
The Pixel 2 XL comes with a six-inch screen, the prior model housed a 5.5-inch display, the quality of text and images to the screen was good and extremely clear what helps is the new aspect ratio, at 18:9, that delivers more data or resolution to the pOLED screen than its iPhone X rival, at 538 pixels per inch.
It’s also IP67 water-resistant and when compared to several other devices the 2XL charged the 3250mAh battery very quickly.
What I do suspect is that Google has a lot happening in the background on this device and if you are an information junkie you are going to love the amount of information that is available via Google services built into this device. However, it does suck juice, so I would be careful in how you configure this device and the apps you run.
What is neat with this device is that like the HTC U11 you can squeeze the sides of this smartphone to trigger Google Assistant, or while the phone is ringing to silence an incoming call.
As soon as you squeeze Google’s voice assistant activates very quickly, and what I suspect is that in the next model Pixel we will see a significant expansion on what devices can be managed via the voice assistant.
the 12.2-megapixel camera is as good as the new Apple X however for the price this device needs a dual camera.
The Samsung Galaxy S9+ has dual lenses and can deliver optical zooming.
What Google is doing is using their artificial intelligence to deliver smart processing and image enhancements.
The cameras autofocus, exposure, contrast, and accurate colour stacks up when it comes to shootout stats according to DxOMark Mobile add the Google AI and what you get is an excellent camera capability.
Other smart features in this phone include Google Assistant which, while not infallible, boasts the best search results and most accurate voice recognition of the voice assistants, plus an entire home screen of Google suggestions about what you might like to read on the web, your upcoming trips, and sports fixtures in which you’re interested, just one swipe to the right away.
The Pixel 2 XL addresses several problems found with the prior model including a lack of water-resistance and storage, I would have liked to see wireless charging and what I suspect is that the acquisition of the HTC R&D team will deliver the expertise to accelerate them to right up alongside Apple and Samsung.
The addition of AI features will get a kick along from a mix of Google and HTC engineers.
Google’s decision to ditch the headphone jack is an issue for some, my view is get over it and enjoy the benefits that the additional space inside the device delivers.
This is a high-end device but is still lacking key elements which is why I suspect Google punted millions on buying one of the best R&D teams around so next time round expect a beast.
The big plus is that the device is water resistant, has a very good camera and has a bucket load of storage, however I would have liked to have a slot to add additional SD storage, wireless charging and a face scanner for the price.
The squeezable sides are neat, but I still prefer to simply say “Hey Google” and as for price, shop around because this device is expensive and only you can make the final decision.