Saturday, 7 July 2018

Pixel 2XL 128GB

Panda Pure as the Driven Snow!
It was November 2017 when I first took a look at the Pixel 2 XL. It was an early review device with a rather nasty blue screen cast and with only 64GB of storage. Three reasons why I didn't take it that seriously, as a device that I could have for myself. And I wasn't prepared to pay £899 for one!

About a month ago, I was tempted by CPW dropping the price to around £700 and got one in, but it had a screen problem and I really started to lose hope in the whole project - particularly as Autumn 2018 should be bringing us a new Pixel anyway. But opportunity knocked and I snapped up a mint Panda version second hand 128GB version this week for under a Monkey. So I'm back with a few further thoughts on the Packin' Pixel!

I've had a Pixel 2 during that time, incidentally, recently enrolled into the P Beta Programme, but couldn't take it seriously as my primary phone as, for one thing, the screen is just too small for me now and secondly, I really don't feel like I can rely on the battery at a measly 2700mAh. Nice to have around to see what's what with latest Android, but not making the cut for my pocket. Pixel 2 now put back on Oreo and taken off the P Beta Programme. Anyone want it? Closest offer to £399 secures! Within reason! Boxed. Mint.

The Pixel 2 XL really is a lovely slice of hardware. It's big, about the same size as my Nokia 7 Plus without being so fat, beautifully made with glass/aluminium and the Panda colour scheme is the icing on the cake. The fingerprint scanner is just in the right place (as it can't be on the front) and the glass on the front curves away nicely into the edges.

The blue screen is still present when the device is tilted, evident more when looking at white screens and the Natural/Boosted/Saturated options in Display Settings does nothing to change that. When looking at a white screen and shifting the axis by 45% you will start to see the blue. So, it's better than that first review device, but not fixed. I guess that from thereon in, it's a question of how annoying that is to the user. I've convinced myself to ignore it! I wouldn't have done for £899!

Apart from that, the screen is a bright and vibrant OLED and I love the Always On display giving clock, day/date, notifications and charging icon. The P Beta brings a change to the latter, dropping it down the bottom and giving a percentage of charge at all times. The display also drops almost to the middle of the screen in P instead of here, towards the top. For me, the Always On display is a real killer-feature and ever since the Nokia Glance came along, I've always been naffed off when a device doesn't have it.

I have come to accept now that a 6" screen, or thereabouts, is indeed the new Goldilocks size. Balance of usability and size in hand/pocket has been shifted by 18:9 and tall as it may feel at first, the user gets used to it. Your mileage may vary of course as it's a personal thing.

It was great to get the front-facing kind-of stereo speakers again. As you may know, I don't really think that stereo is that important but a great sound is - and this unit is only really topped for volume/quality by specialist Razer/Marshall devices. It's certainly cracking. Again, a personal thing - I don't care what people say about good speakers not being needed, bluetooth, headphones, blah, blah - for me it's important and another killer-feature.

Even I have to admit that it's nice (maybe psychologically) to know that one has the best performing camera possible in one's pocket. I know, that sounds inconsistent of me having banged on about cameras in phones not worth fretting about, but I guess that if you're going to have a camera on your phone, you might as well have the best you can get - even if it is overkill for almost all uses the photos will be put to! The other devices which I have to hand don't come close to the clever Portrait Mode here.

Battery life is a tall order these days for me. I have been recently saying that 4000mAh and above is critical for comfort to get well past one-day use. The Razer Phone and Nokia 7 Plus have wow'd me recently. They are both true two-day phones now. And I'm talking 48 hours of mixed average use. This Pixel has a 3520mAh cell, which is actually not far off the 3800mAH of the Nokia. The Nokia benefits though from the Snapdragon 660 and the efficiencies that brings over 835. On initial testing, I'm finding that it's very good, but not as good. So 24hrs between charges, 6 or 7hrs SoT and brightness about 20% on the slider.

The real benefit though here is the Vanilla, bang-up-to-date version of Android - always. The cutting edge of what Google are doing. Nothing in the way. No bloat, no interference, no nothing. Pure as the driven snow! And for some of us, that's enough to forgive any other nit-picking. Not that there's much to nit-pick. It's a cracking device now at better prices, certainly, even new.

The only question now is about whether or not I trust the P Beta on it! I'd love to use the new bells and whistles available and as reported on PSC last week with +Steve Litchfield and +Zachary Kew-Denniss it really does feel very stable. I've only found one App that doesn't work. Very tempting! I'll decide soon! I'm very pleased to have it in hand though. It's taken a long time to get here, but probably knew I'd get there in the end!

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