The Google Pixel was Google's attempt to create a premium Google phone, one that could stand-up against the best in the market, ask top prices and deliver pure Android with a couple of exclusive twists. That's very much been a success, with the Pixel and Pixel XL proving hugely popular with the Android set, even if the price was seen as a little high compared to some rivals.

This theme continues with a pair of phones that are smarter, more powerful and can take better photos than ever. 

Here's the lowdown on the new Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: Release date

Having teased the event for some time, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL were unveiled on 4 October, and pre-orders started immediately after the event. Most models ship within a couple of weeks, by 17 October. However, the new black and white finish XL isn't going to be shipping until 8-9 weeks after the announcement/pre-order day.

Google invited the press to a launch event on 4 October, where both new Pixel devices were announced, along with a new Google Home Mini, Google Home Max speaker, the Google Clips camera, Google Buds earphones, a new version of Daydream and the Pixelbook

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: Design

Google has released two new handsets that update and replace the Pixel and Pixel XL. Although there's been no official confirmation of the manufacturers, there were solid rumours prior to launch that HTC had LG were the hardware partners for these devices.

There's clearly some influence from both companies in the new products, both of which share the same design language as the original Pixel family, but with a few enhancements. 

Here's how the two devices break down.

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Google Pixel 2 design

The Pixel 2 is the smaller of the two new devices. It's built from a single solid block of aluminium, with a contrasting glass panel on the top which features the camera and its accompanying microphone and LED flash. There's also a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. 

You'll note that it has a regular 16:9 display, leaving a conventional forehead and chin, much like HTC's 2017 HTC U11 device. As had been predicted by numerous leaks in the lead-up to launch there are three colours of Google Pixel 2: Kinda Blue, Just Black and Clearly White. 

The fundamental failing of the 2016 Pixel is the lack of waterproofing: with many competitors offering protection, for the price that Google is asking the Pixel 2 needed to step up with a solid IP rating. This time, the company delivered the goods with full-on IP67 rated water and dust resistance. You'll be able to use your phone in the rain, or drop it in puddles until your heart's content.

The Pixel borrows from the HTC U11 in offering a squeezable frame to launch Google Assistant and take selfies; we weren't sold on that function on the HTC U11, but it sounds like Google is keen on it, and sees it as the best way to action those particular features. 

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Pixel 2 XL design

Like its smaller sibling, the Pixel 2 XL is made from solid aluminium and glass, and has the stereo front facing speakers and waterproofing. In fact, in almost every way, the two phones share the same features. 

It has the glass panel on the back with the camera and LED flash unit taking up some space in the corner, while the fingerprint sensor sits just below the glass, in a central position on the metal exterior.

The big change here is a shift in aspect to 18:9 on that display, which we'll talk about below. This resulted in a huge shrinking of the chin and bezels that are so prominent on the small model. It's here we see LG's influence, as the screen features the same shape and size as the display that's in the LG V30. 

As we've seen on multiple phones since the LG G6, having an 18:9 screen with very little frame means getting as big a display as possible, but without the phone being uncomfortably large and unwieldy. 

The Pixel 2 XL also has a squeezable frame.

There are two colours of the Pixel 2 XL: Just Black and Black & White. The comedy name of "just black" should come as no surprise: Google mocked the rest of the industry with its colour names when it launched the 2016 Pixel. The Black & White finish is new though, and features an all white body with black glass front and black glass panel. It also has the intriguing orange power button. 

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: Display

The 2016 Pixel models offered the choice of 5.0 or 5.5-inches, and this year, things are changing up a bit.

Google Pixel 2

  • 5.0-inch AMOLED
  • 1920 x 1080 pixels full HD
  • 16:9 ratio

The smaller phone has a regular 5-inch AMOLED panel. It's "Full HD", or 1920 x 1080 pixels, and follows a more traditional aspect ratio than its big brother. 

With it being AMOLED, Google claims this screen has incredibly high contrast ratio and offers an experience you didn't get on the 2016 Pixel. Small format phones often take a dip in specs, so we're pleased that Google has stuck to OLED. We suspect that's partly to do with its Daydream compatibility.

Google Pixel 2 XL

  • 6-inch P-OLED
  • 2880 x 1440 pixels QHD+
  • 18:9 ratio

Judging by the use of the term "P-OLED" to describe the technology, and that it has the same resolution and ratio as LG's latest phones, it seems clear that this is an LG panel. LG's Korean competition, Samsung has the Galaxy S8+, which features a 6.2-inch in 18.5:9, but has 2960 x 1440 pixels. 

As you'd suspect, a screen with this aspect ratio means there's a lot less frame around it, leaving us with a phone that's almost all screen on the front. Although, somehow, Google still managed to squeeze in a pair of stereo front-firing speakers, so this isn't quite as "all display" as the iPhone X or Samsung Galaxy S8+.

Both phones have the Always-On display, which shows a clock and any important notifications even when the phone is in standby. With both being OLED-based technology, it shouldn't consume too much battery juice.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: Specs and hardware

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64 or 128GB storage
  • Rear fingerprint scanner

When it comes to power, the 2016 Pixel devices opted for a new chip - Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 - a step-up over most of 2016's flagship phones. Qualcomm doesn't stand still though with the Snapdragon 835 having rolled out to numerous other flagships in 2017, with excellent performance.

It's no surprise then that the Snapdragon 835 features in the Pixel 2, supported by 4GB of RAM. It's the current top dog in the smartphone processor world, and all phones we've tested using it have performed really well. 

With some companies pushing to 6GB or even 8GB of RAM, it's interesting to see Google sticking with the now-modest 4GB. However, with Google's machine learning/AI smarts, and all the performance and efficiency enhancements built into Oreo, it's probably no surprise to see them hold back on the spec sheet side of things. 

On the storage front, Google has doubled up its lowest available offering. There are two storage models of each phone: 64GB and 128GB. There is no microSD card support. There's also USB 3.1 Type-C for charging, data transfer and audio (sorry - no 3.5mm jack anymore). 

As for battery capacity, the smaller model has a 2,700mAh cell, while the larger XL model has 3,520mAh. Google claims both are "all day" and you'll get the same awesome fast-charging technology found in last year's model.

Speaking of fast, Google also claims the fingerprint sensor on the back is the fastest in the business. Since we haven't tested it yet, we can neither confirm nor deny that those claims are true in real-life use, but we're glad it's still here.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: Audio and speakers

  • No more headphone jack
  • Dual front speakers on both

An early piece of information suggested that the Pixel 2 might feature dual front firing speakers and lose the 3.5mm headphone socket. Those rumours were true. 

The inclusion of dual front facing speakers is an unusual one in today's smartphone market. Most manufacturers have either given up on the idea completely, or use the earpiece speaker and main loudspeaker combined to form a kind-of stereo effect that's not particularly effective. 

In the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL there are two fully fledged front-firing speakers and we suspect that's to get around the fact that there's no 3.5mm headphone socket. You'll get better audio from things like YouTube videos and games. 

The loss of the 3.5mm headphone socket might set alarm bells ringing for some, but it is the trend of the times. Thankfully, you'll be able to use a Type-C to 3.5mm adapter if you need to and the phones come with one in the box.

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Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2: Cameras

  • Single 12.2MP camera on the rear
  • f/1.8 aperture
  • 8MP front facing camera
  • OIS on video and stills
  • Unlimited storage for photos and videos

Perhaps the biggest movement in cameras at the moment is dual-lens cameras with Samsung, LG, OnePlus, and even Apple embracing this trend. Google is not going down this road. There is one 12-megapixel sensor on the back, and it's the best in the business according to DxOMark's tests. 

Google is keeping things pure, and yet again relying on its algorithms and machine learning to produce great pictures, rather than go with two cameras.

Like last year, the camera takes a series of shots with no delay, analyses them and the produces a sharp, colourful picture with plenty of contrast. It also has an unusual dual-sensor technology that can figure out what's the foreground and what's the background, and then create a Portrait Mode depth effect without needing a second camera. Amazingly, this even works on the front facing 8-megapixel snapper, despite not having a dual pixel sensor on the front, suggesting it's mostly software at work.

For videographers, things get really good with the Pixel. For the first time, we're getting OIS (optical image stabilisation) and EIS (electronic image stabilisation) combined to create shake-free, smooth footage in 4K.

Google is also offering unlimited full resolution storage for photos and video taken with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL: Software

  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • Google Lens
  • Smarter Assistant

The Pixel launched with Android 7 Nougat and a selection of exclusive features, like Google Assistant, Pixel Launcher and the Pixel camera. That unique software position is being chipped away as features appear elsewhere, but the Pixel 2 is launching on Android Oreo with a few new extras.

As well as improved camera algorithms, the Pixel 2 and 2 XL are launching with Google Lens. This is Google's modern replacement for Goggles, and can use the camera to recognise objects then perform actions based on them. 

As alluded to already, there's also a squeeze function for launching Google Assistant, which has been further improved over the past 12 months to become even more powerful and useful than before. 

We've also seen a rearrangement in the new Pixel Launcher, sending the search bar to the bottom of the page, with smart suggestions on the top based on calendar events and weather.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL 2: Price

Like last year, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are priced like flagship phones. 

Starting with the smaller model, you'll be able to get the 64GB for £629 and the 128GB for £729. The larger model is £799 for the 64GB and £899 for the 128GB. 

Both sizes are available to pre-order now in all colours.