[REVIEW] Google Pixel 2 XL

Android long blog My Opinion Review technology

Hello everyone!

With all the talks about burn in, image retention, blue hints, grey-ish hue on the display I wanted to post this review. I have used mostly Samsung devices. I have the Pixel 1 XL (possibly trading in) and the Note 8 currently. I’ll tell you at the end of this review what I’m going to do with the devices I have currently. It will also be in the tl;dr at the bottom.

I didn’t realize how long this would be until I was writing it up. I’m not shortening it. I’m sorry in advance but I try to answer any and all questions anyone may have during this review. If you have other questions, please let me know. I’m happy to answer them in the comments!

Setup

This process was easy. I decided to bring over everything from my Note 8 since it was the last device I used. I could use my USB-C cable I had laying around with the included adaptor and it transferred fast. The first startup was super quick, and I was shocked. Even reinstalling all the same apps to the Pixel 2 XL didn’t take long. That’s usually the one thing that takes forever because I have to go into the Play Store app and press “install” on each and every app (250+ of them). This one just installed them. I kept the phones connected just in case. I had other things to do but I think it took about 45-60 minutes for them to install. My note 8 took 2-3 hours just to get to the point where I was signing back into Lastpass, so I could sign back into all my apps. This is was definitely impressive.

I already unlocked the bootloader and I wanted to set everything up prior to rooting it. Unlocking the bootloader was easy enough, just like on my Pixel 1 XL.

Rooting

I always like to have Magisk installed when I root my phones. If you don’t know what Magisk is, take a look here: https://forum.xda-developers.com/apps/magisk/official-magisk-v7-universal-systemless-t3473445

It is the easiest way to root and still have access to Snapchat, Netflix, & Android Pay but seeing as it isn’t available for the 2XL yet. I went ahead and checked out Greenify & Naptime (the two reasons why I root) and they are usable without root. I just enabled the adb commands and I was able to save TONS of battery life while standby while also not losing the ability to use Snapchat & Netflix. Unfortunately, Android Pay doesn’t work with an unlocked bootloader (which I may revert since I don’t NEED root anymore, haven’t decided yet) but I have Samsung Pay with my Gear S3 Classic LTE.

Battery Life & Charging

I am posting this a day or two after setting up the device. The battery life is amazing. I don’t have any screenshots but right now I’m at 76% battery with 49m of SOT and the last charge was 13 hours 27 minutes ago. Android is stating I have about 14 hours 47 minutes left. During this last charge that I am referring to, I have been home most of the time.

Here are my settings:

  • Location: High Accuracy
  • Brightness: 20% or less.
  • DND & Night Light on at night (12am-9am).
  • Bluetooth on 24/7.
  • Mobile data ranges from full bars of LTE (or close to full) at home and 1-2 bars of LTE at work (poor signal).
  • WiFi on at home.

Yesterday’s charge though was pretty good. I was downloading 8.1 Beta (and installed it) and I was out of the house either at the T-Mobile Store or at Work from 9:30am until 9pm. Coming home for an hour (with the 2XL only) to let my dog out. I don’t have that data usage because when you update it resets your battery stats. So, I can tell you before the update I was at about 40% and I had it unplugged since about 11pm the night before and at that point it was 4pm the next day.

When I first got it, I didn’t let it die. I only let it get down to 30+% before I charged it but after I charged it I got down to 5% each charge which is when I took these screenshots.

Charging takes a while. On my first charge, I was sitting at my computer writing this up. I was planning to only be on my computer for about 30 minutes to an hour but ended up being at my computer for about 2 hours. That was going from 30% – 100%. That is bothersome but if I top up during the day and fully charge only at night, it doesn’t matter how fast it charges.

I mean if you are charging it at night why does it matter if it finishes charging at 2am or 5am if you sleep until 9-10am? It really doesn’t. Fast charging is nice to get more of a charge in those smaller sessions but as long as you get SOME charge, isn’t that all that matters?

Watch Compatibility

I have this paired with my Gear S3 Classic LTE and it works just like if I were to pair it to my Note 8. I was able to set up Samsung Pay and the watch works just fine. No Bluetooth issues when I’m near my phone and when I’m away from my phone I can send/receive texts/calls just fine.

I also have the Moto 360 v2 which isn’t currently set up but would work great if I were to use it.

Speakers

I was asked in my “ama” that I did a few days ago to play this video on max and to see if I have distinct crackling/rattling sound from the speakers.

I did, and it sounds like it shouldn’t be at max volume (gonna blow the speakers) but there is no crackling/rattling from either speaker.

Overall the speakers are amazing like they were on my 6p which I gave to my dad. They get nice and loud and I don’t have to worry about “cupping” my hand to direct the sound to me. They will be perfect for use at work where I watch most of my videos.

After testing them at work and comparing them to my Note 8 and my coworker’s Essential Phone, they are quieter for stereo speakers. Nothing you will notice at home but if you are out and about, they are noticeably quieter. If I remember correctly, my 6P was louder. When my parents visit again I’ll be able to really test this out but I’m pretty sure it was louder on my 6P.

Display

The display is fine. If you only read this sentence I want, you to know that the display “issues” are a minority of users (some of which don’t own the phone and have only seen it in stores) speaking out causing this to be more of an issue than what it is. If you want to know why I say that, read below.

I’ll start with the blue tint. The blue tint is visible on mine. See on my video. It isn’t that bad. I don’t use the phone when it is on an off angle. If I am, I am talking on the phone which doesn’t matter if I’m looking at the phone anyway. The blue tint doesn’t take away anything from what I am using it for. I don’t notice it on the always on display (most important thing to me) so noticing it other places, isn’t that bad.

Following this, I’m bothered by an issue with the default colored notification tray. As you can see in this picture.

Click here to make the picture bigger!

When you have the white/default colored notification tray you can see through to messages/whatever below it. It is annoying and almost looks like burn-in. The only way to disable that is by using a dark wallpaper (turning on ‘dark mode’). That is super annoying and one of the biggest things that I don’t like about the display but seeing how THIS is my biggest complaint, the display is fine.

Next, I want to talk about the physical display. By that I mean the curves and rounded edges. Seeing as I have the Note 8 I can tell you the curved display is weird. Especially seeing that the display doesn’t “pour” over the edges like the Samsung devices. It is unnecessary. Might as well have a flat screen like the V30 does. It does, right? The rounded corners seem weird on the top, but I get the overall design. It is nice. It doesn’t bother me that bad. The bezels are nice because when I am holding it with one hand I have some place to put my thumb without touching the display.

Anyway, the image retention/burn-in is not something to worry about. The people complaining about this are nitpicking and “pixel peepers”. Basically, that means that they are looking for issues. If you are not looking for issues you won’t find any issues. I did check for both and after a few days of usage, I do/don’t have it. I must be/was really looking to try and find it, so I’m not worried about it. I realize it shouldn’t be after this short amount of time, but this is something to RMA it over if it gets too bad. Not a big deal.

After 72 hours it doesn’t appear that my phone has it and I have it on a lot. Even though it is on a secondary line (getting T-Mobile rebate) I’m using it as my primary phone with the help of Digits. Anyway, here are 2 videos showing after 24 hours and then after 72 hours and you can see that no burn in is happening on my 2XL. https://photos.app.goo.gl/8D21FyDayQAHNyTu1

I use my phone to watch YouTube, read reddit via Reddit Sync, and for normal phone things (texts/calls). So, there is the potential for this to happen.

The always on display worries me but supposedly it moves around and if it does end up burning in then I will just get a replacement from Google. Not worried about that. The always on display is too dim for my needs. I wish it would brighten/dim depending on the ambient lighting. Maybe they will add this in an update? Even if they don’t, it is a minor concern.

I see the “grain” people are saying is in the display, but you must really be looking to notice it. Overall, the display is good. I don’t have any issues with it.

There is also an issue with “ghosting” where when you scroll the words/pictures ghost going up the page from pixels turning on that were off (from being black) which happens on my Note 8 as well. For my Pixel 2 XL it isn’t that bad. I’ve seen someone else’s that was bad (would RMA if I were them) but mine seems to be on par with my Note 8. There is a video about this:

It is as bad as that video claims. It sucks but if you want this phone you just must get used to topping up during the day instead of fully charging.

Camera

I don’t really take very many pictures, but I did for this review and here is an album of pictures I took with the Pixel 2 XL and a separate one with the Pixel 1 XL and then a separate one for the Note 8. All were taken in as close to the exact same spots around my home as possible. I tried to take some in random times of the day. I wanted to make sure I took some of the trees in my backyard to show the detail that the cameras can get.

Pixel 2 XL: https://imgur.com/a/k49oc

Pixel 1 XL: https://imgur.com/a/GQNCR

Note 8: https://imgur.com/a/yz08E

Note: I uploaded all of these to imgur because I wasn’t sure where I was going to post this when I was typing it up in Word.

Summary/tl;dr

I have decided to keep both phones. The Pixel 2 XL has everything I want. 6” display, front facing speakers, updates from google, ability to root, and google support. I’ve never had any issues with google support even if it is through Asurion. I have a caseology case on my phone and I love the phone. I have a screen protector but I’m not going to put it on until I’m sure I won’t have to RMA the device for the display. I don’t want to have to purchase more or go through trying to get another one because I RMA’d the phone, you know?

I decided to keep both because I knew I would have to open a new line for a few months and use my Pixel 2 XL on that line and it was easier keeping a phone on my main line while I did that. So, I have 2 lines right now and I think I want to keep it that way. I think I’m going to move my Pixel 2 XL over to Project Fi once I get the rebate and use it there for a while. Maybe I can move over and stop using my Note 8 + Gear S3 Classic (and sell them) altogether and stay with a Pixel. We will see!

Moving on, the only thing that would make this phone better is wireless charging. If the Pixel 3 XL has it, then I will upgrade. Otherwise, I am finally keeping a phone for longer than a year. It has been years since I have done that. That just shows how much I love this phone. Of course, the screen could be better like the Samsung display but meh. Maybe google will fix it? Even if they don’t I will adjust, and it is a small sacrifice I can make for saving money on my T-Mobile bill while also only spending $250-350 on the Pixel 2 XL.

Anyway, I’ve said everything I’ve had to say. Sorry the summary/tl;dr is so long. Ask me if you have any questions. Until I get my trade in packet from google I will have my Pixel 1 XL to take pictures/videos with if need/be.

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