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The 10 best features of Google’s new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 XL Specs

Google on Wednesday finally unveiled the new smartphones Android fans across the country and around the world have been waiting for. The new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL represent the best of what Android phones have to offer… as long as you don’t mind great big bezels around your display. Both new Pixel phones have plenty to offer, of course, but their designs are decidedly dated as top companies like Apple and Samsung move toward designs with almost no bezel at all around the screens. Of course, plenty of Android fans out there would gladly trade the narrow bezels on a phone like the Galaxy Note 8 for instant access to new Android updates, and now they’ll be able to thanks to Google’s new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

We’ve already told you just about everything there is to know about Google’s new phones, but now it’s time to focus solely on the best they have to offer. So in this post, we’ll take a look at the hottest new features Google announced during Wednesday’s big Pixel 2 event.

Pure Android

First and foremost, the fact that these are pure Android smartphones is undoubtedly the most appealing thing about them for many users. Why? Because Google’s future Android updates will be available immediately to both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Meanwhile, people with smartphones from other Android vendors will have to wait months or even years to get the latest Android builds. It’s a huge pain point for most Android users around the world, but not for anyone with a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL.

Feature Parity

Unlike another smartphone maker we all know, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have the same features instead of reserving some key features only for the larger version of the phone.

New Design

The Pixel 2 XL is a bit newer than the smaller Pixel 2, but both phones have sleek unibody aluminum construction that’s coated so you don’t have to see those ugly antenna lines. The Pixel 2 XL in particular looks terrific, with a display that takes up a bit more of the phone’s body than on the smaller Pixel 2.

Always-On Display

Like comparable flagship smartphones, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL feature an Always-On Display feature that shows the time, notifications, and other important info.

Now Playing

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL can listen for music at all times in the background. Anytime a song is playing, the phone will identify it (without sending any info to Google) and display artist and track info on the screen. Then the user can quickly and easily play it in Google Music or watch the video on YouTube.

Active Edge

Just squeeze the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL and it’ll launch Google Assistant. You can also use the feature for other things, like squeezing to take a selfie.

Google Lens

This is Google’s answer to similar smart camera features introduced by companies like Samsung. Point your camera at text, numbers, or landmarks, and Google Lens will act accordingly. For example, point your Pixel 2 camera at a movie poster and Google Lens will pull up info about the film.

Pixel users will get a preview of Google Lens, and then the feature will roll out to other phones (if and when they’re updated to Android Oreo.


The original Pixel and Pixel XL had one of the best smartphone cameras in the world when it debuted last year, and Google made it even better in the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

According to Google, the camera has improved in every way, with better low-light performance and sharper imaging in general. The camera also uses machine learning to create a Portrait Mode effect like Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus, but with only one lens. Of note, the Portrait Mode feature works on both the rear camera and the front-facing camera. Also added to the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL is Motion Photo support, which is Google’s rebranding of the iPhone’s Live Photos feature.

Google says the new Pixel 2 camera got a score of 98 from DxOMark, though it’s unclear if Google is among the companies that pay DxOMark a consulting fee to help develop and tune their smartphone cameras.

Free Google Home Mini

Buy a Google Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, and for a limited time you’ll get a free $50 Google Home Mini speaker!

Google Assistant

No phone has deeper integration with Google Assistant, and Google Assistant represents the best of what Google has to offer. The company’s machine learnings and artificial intelligence know-how makes Google Assistant one of the best virtual assistant solutions currently available.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.