Make way for the Pixel 2 and Pixel2 XL

Make way for the sequel: Google announced the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, the follow-up devices to last year’s well-received but not so well selling Pixel smartphones.

It hopes for a better result with these successor devices, especially as it takes on Apple, some of whose users may have a hard time coming to grips with spending a grand or more for the upcoming iPhone X. Not that the new Google phones are inexpensive.

Google is trying to bring together the best of hardware, software and AI with its new flagships, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. The 5-inch Pixel 2 starts at $649, and the Pixel 2 XL starts at $849. In the U.S., Google is offering the phones through Verizon and unlocked.

For starters, it’s easier to get to Google Assistant. All you need to do is squeeze the sides of the phone. There’s also a new always-on display, which displays not just notifications but also things like song titles. The home screen has a new search box, which lets you see web results at the top and other things on your phone like contacts below.

The new phones also integrate with Google Home speakers, so you can broadcast that you’re coming home and everyone in the house will hear that you’re on your way.

With Google Lens, these phones will be able to recognize all sorts of images. For example, if you point your camera at a poster,it’s smart enough to capture an email address or summon up reviews. And new AR apps are on the way, such as Legos. A new AR sticker feature will let you bring virtual characters into real photos, such as characters from Stranger Things.

One of the biggest features of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL is the 12-megapixel f/1.8 camera. DxO Mark has already given the new phones an unprecedented score of 98, but we’ll wait and see how good it is with our tests. Google has increased dynamic range, reduced blur and introduced Portrait Mode with a blurred background.

Google does Portrait Mode with a single camera, while other competitors use dual lenses. It uses dual-pixel sensor technology with a left and right view. Google uses Machine Learning to build a portrait.

Similar to Apple’s Live Photos feature, the Pixel 2 can record up to 3 seconds of video with each shot. It’s called Motion Photos.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are made of aluminum with gently curved glass on the back. The fingerprint sensor is said to unlock faster. There’s also a small pop of color on the power button.

Both phones sport stereo speakers on the front. The 5-inch Pixel 2 sports a 5-inch OLED display and comes in three colors: Kinda Blue, Just Black and White.

The 6-inch Pixel 2 XL boasts a P-OLED display with over 4.1 million pixels and a narrow 18:9 aspect ratio. It comes in Just Black and Black and White.

Both phones are also IP67 water resistant and deliver quick charge capability, which means you should get 7 hours of charge in 15 minutes.

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