Google Pixel XL (2016) vs Pixel XL 2 (2017): How has the XL-sized Google phone improved?

    Google’s new Pixel phones have been officially launched and let’s face it, the XL-sized model is the most interesting by far. So how does the Pixel XL 2 improve on last year’s XL and should Google fans consider an upgrade?

    The Pixel XL 2 isn’t just bigger than the standard handset, it also packs in even better specs, including an upgraded display and a massive battery. If you want the ultimate Google Pixel experience, this is the device to go for.

    Question is, how does the Pixel XL 2 compare with last year’s Pixel XL? The original phone launched back in 2016 should drop in price with the launch of the sequel, so should you grab the first handset or pay a bit more for the 2017 update? And should Pixel XL owners consider splashing out for the new model?

    Check out our other Pixel versus features, to see more on these shiny handsets:

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    Google Pixel XL vs Pixel XL 2: Specs

    Phone Google Pixel XL Google Pixel XL 2
    Screen size 5.5-inches 6-inches
    Screen resolution 2560x1440 2560x1440
    Fingerprint sensor? Yes Yes
    Water resistant? No Yes
    OS Android Oreo 8.0 Android Oreo 8.0
    Processor Snapdragon 821 Snapdragon 835
    Memory 4GB 4GB
    Storage 32/128GB 64/128GB
    Battery 3450mAh 3520mAh
    Rear camera 12.3MP 12MP
    Front camera 8MP 8MP

    Google Pixel XL vs Pixel XL 2: Design

    The most immediately obvious update compared with last year’s Pixel XL is the revamped design work. While last year’s super-sized handset basically looked like a bigger Pixel phone, the XL 2 has been reworked with an edge-to-edge display. Those slender bezels mean Google has fitted a bigger 6-inch screen into a device that’s basically the same size and weight.

    You once again have a mostly metal construct, which is quite comfortable to clutch despite its bulk; although this isn’t the easiest handset to use with one hand. The top section of the rear edge is again plated in glass, giving that distinctive Pixel appearance to stand out from the crowd. And you’ll spy the fingerprint sensor there on the back, which in the Pixel XL 2 is now even faster than ever.

    Last year’s Pixel XL was merely splash proof, while the new XL 2 thankfully offers full water resistance. Good news if you’ve ever lost a phone to an unexpected drop into the toilet.

    Google Pixel XL vs Pixel XL 2: Screen and media

    While the Pixel XL 2 sports that bigger, edge-to-edge panel, not much has changed in terms of the actual screen tech.

    You get an AMOLED panel packed onto both of these phones, offering strong contrast levels and a powerful maximum brightness. Colours really stand out, with vibrant reproduction. Of course, the aspect ratio has changed slightly for the Pixel XL 2, with a new 2:1 (or 18:9 as you’ll probably see it written) design. That’s better suited to movie playback, although the older Pixel’s aspect ratio is better for web browsing and standard apps.

    There are more pixels crammed into the new phone’s display, although that’s more to accommodate the longer panel than actually make images sharper. You get a 2880x1440 resolution in the Pixel XL 2 compared with the standard XL’s 2560x1440 resolution, with clarity appearing identical in our side-by-side hands-on.

    As for audio, the 2017 model does away with that 3.5mm jack, although you do now get dual front-facing speakers.

    Memory cards are once again unsupported, so you’re stuck with the storage you stump up for. The good news is that the Pixel XL 2 at least comes with 64GB of room as standard, which should prove plenty for many users. Last year’s Pixel XL offered just 32GB of space in its base model. With either handset you have the option of upgrading to 128GB, which sadly isn’t cheap.

    Google Pixel XL vs Pixel XL 2: Features and OS

    When it comes to the software, there’s no real difference here. Both Pixel XL phones offer the latest Android Oreo OS, in a pleasingly vanilla form.

    Take a look at our Android Oreo hub for all you need to know, including our hands-on review, plus our run-down of the best new features.

    That said, the new Pixel XL 2 does come packing the new Active Edge sensors, which can detect when you squeeze the phone and then launch up the Google Assistant. This can also be used to take a selfie shot when the camera app is open, as just one other example.

    Google Pixel XL vs Pixel XL 2: Performance and battery

    The Pixel XL 2 naturally offers updated specs over the original handset. This time around you get a mighty Snapdragon 835 chipset, which is more powerful and boasts improved energy efficiency over the Pixel XL’s Snapdragon 821 platform.

    That said, the memory count hasn’t changed (4GB in both cases), while last year’s model is still a perfectly smooth performer even a year since launch. Check out our full Pixel XL long-term review for our 12-month opinions.

    You can expect well over a day of battery life no matter your choice, while both handsets offer fast charging (although no form of wireless charging support).

    Google Pixel XL vs Pixel XL 2: Cameras

    Although the hardware specs don’t appear to have changed when it comes to the camera tech (with a single lens rather than dual lens tech on the back), the Pixel XL 2 does serve up a better snapper. As demonstrated by DxOMark, who awarded this handset a whopping 98 out of 100 score following in-house tests.

    This time around the HDR+ mode is even better than before, capturing impressive detail even with tricky lighting. Google also uses a combination of OIS and EIS for steadying your footage when shooting a video while moving around. The result is smoother footage than before.

    That said, the original Pixel phone still offers a brilliant camera which will satisfy even quite demanding mobile photographers. Check out our in-depth Pixel XL camera review for samples and more.

    Google Pixel XL vs Pixel XL 2 video comparison

    Check out our side-by-side hands-on with the new Pixel XL 2 and the original handset from 2016 below.