Google Pixel 2 Review

November 28, 2017 | Amy Davies | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Google Pixel 2 follows on from the popular Google Pixel phone, with some key improvements to the onboard camera.

It now features a camera with dual-pixel autofocus. There’s 12.2 megapixels, with an accompanying lens which has an f/1.8 aperture. Unlike many of the other high-end phones currently on the market, the Pixel 2 uses a single camera setup, and not two.

On the front of the phone is a 8 megapixel front-facing camera for selfies, which has a lens with an f/2.4 aperture.

Available in two sizes, the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL share the same camera specifications, so the images should be the same from either device. For the purposes of this review, we will mainly be looking at the smaller Pixel 2 device, which has a 127mm / 5 inch 16:9 Full HD AMOLED screen. We've also been tesing the larger Pixel 2 XL version too, which has a larger 152 mm / 6 inch display.

Other interesting specifications from a photography point of view include the ability to record video in 4K (front camera only), optical and electronic image stabilisation, and a “Portrait” mode (which creates a shallow depth of field effect). It is also waterproof and dustproof, charges via USB-C, and comes with either 64GB or 128GB inbuilt storage - interestingly however, customers get unlimited cloud storage for photos (until 2020).

The Google Pixel 2 retails from £629 / $649, and the XL version costs from £799 / $799.

Google Pixel 2 XL is available on EE from the 15th November. EE is the exclusive direct UK network partner for Google Pixel 2 XL in the UK -

EE is the lead partner of Wembley Stadium, working to make Wembley the most connected stadium in the world.

Ease of Use

We have mainly been using the standard Google Pixel 2 for the purposes of this review, which is 145.7 x 69.7mm x 7.8mm, and weighs just 143g. It is light, slim and has a very simple design. While it may not have the “pizazz” of some of the other devices on the market, with a slightly utilitarian design, some will probably like the simple approach.

From the lock screen, you can open the camera by swiping up from the bottom right hand corner. If you’ve already got the screen unlocked, simply tap the camera app to open it.

Considering that the Pixel 2 is so squarely focused on the camera aspect, it’s a little disappointing to find such a simple native app, without a pro mode available for those that want to take a little extra control. Still, if you’re somebody who is just interested in taking good pictures, the simple app is probably quite appealing.

Along the bottom of the screen (or to the right if holding it in landscape format) is the on-screen shutter button. You can also use the physical volume button on the side of the camera to take a shot, which is particularly helpful when taking selfies. You’ll also see the option to switch to video recording, which you can get to by swiping right on the screen too.

Google Pixel 2

Holding down either the volume button, or the virtual shutter button, gives you access to “Superburst” shooting. This means you can take a burst of shots, then choose the best in playback.

If you access the Google Pixel 2's camera from the lock screen, you’ll only be able to see photos you’ve taken in the current unlock session by tapping on the icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Otherwise, you’ll need to unlock to see all of your photos. The Pixel 2 uses “Google Photos” to playback your photos, which is included on your phone and means your photos are automatically synced to the cloud - you can access your Google Photos on your computer whenever you like. You can choose to keep the photos on your device, or, if you want to free up space on your device, you can delete them easily, with a notification on the phone instructing you how to do so. If you need the photos again on your device, you can simply download them from the cloud. You get unlimited high resolution storage until 2020, after which, photos will be shrunk down - and you’ll only have 15GB worth of space. It’s therefore worth downloading high resolution files and keeping them somewhere safe periodically.

Google Pixel 2

To go back to the camera app, as mentioned, it’s very simple. Along the top of the screen (or to the left in landscape orientation), you’ll see the ability to switch on a grid - helpful for composition -  change white balance (oddly, the only manual control available here), and switch the flash on or off. You can add or remove brightness when you tap around the screen to set the autofocus point - a slider will appear that you can move up and down to adjust the brightness of your shot.

Timer mode gives you an option to delay shutter release by 3 seconds or 10 seconds. There’s also the option to set the “Motion” controls. This is how you create a photo with a couple of seconds of video attached - you can set it to record motion all the time, none of the time, or for the Pixel 2 to automatically decide when you want it on - this is a great way to create motion clips when it’s most likely to be wanted (i.e. of a moving person, animal etc, rather than a still landscape).

Google Pixel 2
Camera App

Tapping the icon which appears as three lines gives you access to the different shooting modes available with the Pixel 2. You’ve got Slow Motion, Panorama, Photo Sphere and Portrait. From here, you can also access the “Settings” menu. In the Settings menu, you’ll find options such as “Save Location”, as well as being able to set the gesture you use for various actions, such as double-tapping the screen to use the digital zoom.

By default, the camera app isn’t set to the highest resolution, but you can change that here in the settings menu. You’ll also be given the option to use the 16:9 ratio if you prefer, rather than 4:3. There’s no option for either 3:2 or 1:1, which is a shame for composing, especially for the square format.  You’ll also be able to set the video resolution, again, by default, the highest available (4K) is not selected - but you can set it if you wish. For 4K video recording, only 30fps is available, but for both Full HD and 720p, you can shoot in a variety of frame rates, up to 240fps. If you want to alter frame rate, you’ll need to do that from the main camera window - simply by tapping the choice you want at the top of the screen.

Under the “advanced” section of the Settings menu, you’ll see there’s an option to set “HDR+ control”. If you select this option, you’ll be able to switch HDR on or off from the main camera, but if you leave the option unselected, all photos will automatically be taken with the HDR setting switched on.

Google Pixel 2

Portrait Mode is a very interesting setting which allows you to create shallow depth of field effects.  When you select it, you’ll be asked to tap on an area to focus. Ostensibly, this has been designed to take pictures of people (hence the name), so the idea is to tap on the subject’s face. However, you can also use it to create shallow depth of field effects with other subjects, such as still life and pets.

A quirk here is that sometimes, the camera seems to decide that it shouldn’t be doing a shallow depth of field effect, so when you go to look at the image, a normal image will display, rather than one with a blurred background. Most of the time however, if you head to the playback area, you’ll see that you have two versions of the image - one with a blurred background, and one without. The latter is useful if the blur has gone a little bit wrong but you still want to salvage the image. Unlike with the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, you can’t alter the focus point after you’ve taken the shot. It’s worth noting that the Pixel 2 does this entirely with Artificial Intelligence, as there is only one lens to work with.

The Google Pixel 2 uses dual pixel autofocusing, which is very quick and rapid. Generally, it locks onto the correct target with ease, and even performs impressively in low light.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 12 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 3Mb.

In good light, the Google Pixel 2 produces some fantastic images, with vibrant colours and lots of fine detail. Colours are a little more realistic than the iPhone X’s - that can mean that some scenes don’t look quite as punchy as with the iPhone X, but it’s a more natural appearance. The overall impression of detail when looking at the images on a small screen (such as the Pixel 2’s, but also other smartphones) is great - and while you can see some loss of detail if you zoom in at 100% on a computer, the performance is generally impressive.

The Pixel 2 is also good in low light - again, it’s best if you don’t plan to examine the files too closely, as smudginess is a bit more evident when looking at images at large sizes, or at 100%. At small sizes, or on a phone screen, the quality of low-light shots is very impressive.

Many of the current smartphones offer some kind of shallow depth of field effect - on the Google Pixel 2, this is the “Portrait Mode”. Despite the fact that this is created using only one lens (and so relies on artificial intelligence), it produces very natural shots, which when viewed at small sizes look comparable with a “real” camera. There are some odd artefacts to be seen if you zoom in very closely, and some subject don’t always work, but for portraits, it’s a great choice.

Exposures are on the whole very well balanced. Tapping around the screen to set a metering point is a good idea if you’re shooting something very high contrast, as you’ll be able to get a decent balance between highlights and shadows by doing so. Automatic white balance errs ever so slightly towards warmer / yellowish tones in low light, but generally is pretty accurate.


The Google Pixel 2's ISO range is 100-3200. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for both JPG and Raw files.


ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg

Focal Range

The Google Pixel 2's fixed lens provides the focal length demonstrated below.


Chromatic Aberrations

The Google Pixel 2 handled chromatic aberrations very well during the review, with limited purple fringing mainly present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.

Chromatic Aberrations (100% Crop)



This macro shot shows how close you can get to the subject.




The flash settings on the Google Pixel 2 are Off, On and Auto. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off

Flash On

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots with the rear and front facing cameras.

Flash - Rear Camera


Flash - Front Camera



The Google Pixel 2 doesn't have a very long maximum shutter speed and you can't set it manually anyway, which is not great news if you're seriously interested in night photography.



Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Google Pixel 2 camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movies & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 3840x2160 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 17 second movie is 86.2Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 17 second movie is 70.2Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 17 second movie is 44Mb in size.

This is a sample slow-motion movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 1 second movie is 78.2Mb in size.

Product Images

Google Pixel 2
Google Pixel 2
Google Pixel 2
Google Pixel 2
Google Pixel 2
Google Pixel 2
Google Pixel 2
Google Pixel 2
Google Pixel 2


Google Pixel 2
Google Pixel 2


As it stands, the Google Pixel 2 has the highest overall score for a smartphone from independent analysts DxO (which uses a combined photo and video score). It is just behind the iPhone X for stills quality. 

Overall, we have been very impressed with the capabilities of the camera, particularly considering it uses only one lens. Colours are nice and vibrant, without going over the top to retain a natural look. Low light shooting is impressive considering the small size of the sensor, and while there is some loss of detail if you examine very closely, images seen on a small sized screen are very good. 

Particularly impressive is Portrait Mode, which manages to create very natural shallow depth of field effects on the majority of occasions, even coping reasonably well with fine detailed subjects. It would be helpful if you could force the camera to always use this mode though - as it seems to occasionally decide for you that you shouldn’t be using it. 

The main complaint about the Google Pixel 2 is the fact that, despite being sold on the back of the quality of the camera, it’s not really aimed at enthusiasts. That means there’s no raw format shooting, and there’s no manual controls in the native app. That’s a shame for some, but it won’t bother others - plus you can get third party apps to add that functionality if you really want it. It also doesn’t have a second lens - while that doesn’t seem to make much a difference for the Portrait Mode, having a second lens for telephoto shooting would be appreciated. 

At the moment, consumers have a fantastic choice when it comes to a smartphone which is well suited to photography. The three main contenders at the moment are the iPhone X, Pixel 2 and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. All of which have their advantages - the iPhone X has two lenses, the Pixel 2 produces fantastic shallow depth of field effects, and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro gives you manual control and raw format shooting in the native app. 

Having tested all three phone cameras, I’d suggest that the Google Pixel 2 produces the best overall image quality - but only just - if it had a telephoto lens it’d definitely be a better proposition than the iPhone X, which beats it by that virtue. That said, it’s available for a considerably lower price than the iPhone, so you get a very good value piece of kit here - unlimited storage for photos in the cloud until 2020 is an extra sweetener which makes it an even better deal. 

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 4

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Google Pixel 2.

Apple iPhone X

The Apple iPhone X is the most anticipated smartphone of 2017, but can its photographic capabilities really satisfy the keen photographer? Read our in-depth Apple iPhone X review to find out...


The HTC One is a new flagship smartphone with some intriguing photography features up its proverbial sleeve. The HTC One has a 4 megapixel sensor, 28mm fixed lens with fast f/2.0 aperture, 1080p video, sweep panoramas, a range of picture effects and 8fps burst shooting. Read our HTC One review to find out if it's the best smartphone for photographers...

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

The Mate 10 Pro is the latest flagship phone from the Chinese manufacturer Huawei, and as with a lot of new smartphones these days, it promises a lot for the keen photographer, not least Leica-branded f/1.6 lenses and dual colour / monochrome image sensors. Read our in-depth Huawei Mate 10 Pro review for photographers now...

Huawei P10 Plus

The new Huawei P10 Plus smartphone has once again been co-developed with Leica, this time around focusing on delivering "stunning artistic portrait shots in the Leica image style". Is this the best smartphone for photographers? Find out by reading our in-depth Huawei P10 Plus review...

Kodak Ektra

The new Kodak Ektra is billed as the perfect smartphone for keen photographers, from enthusiasts to experts, but does it offer enough to replace the smartphone that's currently in your pocket? Find out by reading our Kodak Ektra review...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1

Is it a camera? Is it a smartphone? No, it's the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1, which is bravely offering both in one device. Can the Panasonic CM1 replace a high-end camera and a premium smartphone? Read our Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1 review now to find out...

Sony Xperia XZ

The Sony Xperia XZ is a new photography-focused premium smartphone, featuring a 23-megapixel primary camera with a 1/2.3"-type Exmor RS imaging chip. Read our in-depth Sony Xperia XZ review now...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Google Pixel 2 from around the web. »

The Pixel 2 clues us in on why Google called its phone series Pixel: it was building the best camera on a phone. This second-generation effort fulfills that promise with not only the best-in-class photos, but also dual front-facing speakers and water-resistance. It's a great size, but you'll need to be okay with its dated looks and the fact that there’s no headphone jack.
Read the full review » »

Without fail, every person who has picked up the Pixel 2 XL has said virtually the same thing: "It feels like it's made out of plastic." I said it myself when I first held it. Of course, neither the Pixel 2 nor the Pixel 2 XL are made out of plastic. They're made out of Gorilla Glass and aluminum, just like every other high-end phone these days.
Read the full review » »

The Pixel 2 is basically Google’s second attempt at creating an Android version of the iPhone 8 and a proper competitor to the Samsung Galaxy S8. Instead of focusing solely on top-end specs and including every feature imaginable, it aims to aims to offer users the cleanest Android experience possible. For the most part this means you’re getting the best of Google in a phone; however, there remain a few areas where improvement is still needed.
Read the full review »


Operating System
Android 8.0.0, Oreo
  • Android 8.0.0, Oreo
  • Minimum 3 years of OS and security updates1
1Pixel’s software and security updates for three years.
Always-on display
  • Pixel 2
  • Cinematic 5.0 in (127 mm) display
  • FHD (1920 x 1080) AMOLED at 441ppi
  • 16:9
  • 2.5D Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5
  • Always-on display
  • 95% DCI-P3 coverage
  • 100000:1, super contrast ratio
  • True black level
  • Full 24-bits depth or 16.77 million colors
  • Pixel 2 XL
  • Fullscreen 6.0 in (152 mm) display
  • QHD+ (2880 x 1440) pOLED at 538ppi
  • 18:9
  • 3D Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5
  • Always-on display
  • 100% DCI-P3 coverage
  • 100000:1, super contrast ratio
  • True black level
  • Full 24-bits depth or 16.77 million colors
Rear: 12.2MP • Front: 8MP
  • Rear Camera
  • 12.2MP
  • 1.4μm
  • Autofocus with laser + dual pixel phase detection
  • Optical + electronic image stabilization
  • f/1.8 aperture
  • Rear Camera Video
  • 1080p @ 30fps, 60fps, 120fps
  • 720p @ 30fps, 60fps, 240fps
  • 4K @ 30fps
  • Front Camera
  • 8MP
  • 1.4μm
  • f/2.4 aperture
  • Fixed focus
  • Front Camera Video
  • 1080p @ 30fps
  • 720p @ 30fps
  • 480p @ 30fps
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835
  • 2.35Ghz + 1.9Ghz, 64Bit Octa-Core
  • Adreno 540
  • Security module
Memory & Storage
RAM: 4GB • Storage: 64GB & 128GB
  • Memory
  • Storage
  • Internal storage: 64GB and 128GB1
  • Unlimited online storage for photos and videos2
1Storage specifications refer to capacity before formatting. Actual formatted capacity will be less.
2Unlimited original-quality storage for photos and videos taken with Pixel until Jan. 15, 2021, and high-quality storage for photos taken with Pixel afterwards. Requires Google Account and internet connection.
Dimensions & Weight
Pixel 2: 5.7 x 2.7 in • Pixel 2 XL: 6.2 x 3.0 in
  • Pixel 2
  • Length: 5.7 in (145.7 mm)1
  • Width: 2.7 in (69.7 mm)1
  • Height: 0.3 in (7.8 mm)1
  • Weight: 5.01 oz (143 g)1
  • Pixel 2 XL
  • Length: 6.2 in (157.9 mm)1
  • Width: 3.0 in (76.7 mm)1
  • Height: 0.3 in (7.9 mm)1
  • Weight: 6.2 oz (175 g)1
1Size and weight may vary by manufacturing process.
Just Black • Clearly White • Kinda Blue • Black & White
  • Pixel 2
  • Just Black1
  • Clearly White1
  • Kinda Blue1
  • Pixel 2 XL
  • Just Black1
  • Black & White1
1Kinda Blue Pixel 2 color variant subject to local carrier availability. Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL phones have painted exterior surfaces which are chip resistant, but may chip if the phone is dropped. Some materials, such as leather or denim, may transfer color to Clearly White, Kinda Blue, and Black & White phones, this color transfer may be cleaned with ordinary household cleaners, see website for more details.
Media & Audio
Stereo front-firing speakers
  • Stereo front-firing speakers
  • Bluetooth 5.0 + LE
  • Wireless HD audio with LDAC, Qualcomm® AptX™ and AptX HD™ audio codecs supported
  • USB-C™ port to use with your own USB-C digital headphones (see compatible headphones here)
  • Headphone Adapter to connect a 3.5mm jack to your Pixel
  • 3 mics
  • Noise suppression
Pixel 2: 2700 mAh • Pixel 2 XL: 3520 mAh
  • Pixel 2
  • 2700 mAh battery
  • Up to 7 hours of go with 15 minutes of charge1
  • Pixel 2 XL
  • 3520 mAh battery
  • Up to 7 hours of go with 15 minutes of charge1
1Battery use statistics are approximate and represent a mixed use of talk, standby, web browsing and other features, with always on display off, according to an average user profile as defined by Google. Uses that involve an active display or data usage will use battery more quickly, actual results may vary. Charging rates are based on use of the included charger.
Wireless & Location
Wi-Fi 2.4G • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Wireless
  • Wi-Fi 2.4G + 5GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO1
  • Bluetooth 5.0 + LE
  • NFC
  • eSIM
  • Location
  • GPS
  • BeiDou
  • Galileo
1Wi-Fi use requires 802.11a/b/g/n/ac access point (router). Syncing services, such as backup, require a Google Account.
World-wide network/carrier compatibility
  • World-wide network/carrier compatibility with:1
  • GSM/EDGE: Quad-band (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
  • UMTS/HSPA+/HSDPA: Bands 1/2/4/5/8
  • CDMA EVDO Rev A: BC0/BC1/BC10
  • FDD-LTE : Bands 1*/2*/3*/4*/5/7*/8/12/13/17/20/25/26/28/29/30/32/66*2
  • TD-LTE: Bands 38*/40/412
  • Supports up to CAT 15 (800Mbps DL / 75Mbps UL), 3x DL CA, 4x4 MIMO, 256-QAM DL and 64-QAM UL depending on carrier support
1Pixel is an unlocked phone and works on major carrier networks.
2*Indicates the bands that support 4x4 MIMO
Active Edge™
  • Active Edge™
  • Proximity / Ambient light sensor
  • Accelerometer / Gyrometer
  • Magnetometer
  • Pixel Imprint: Back-mounted fingerprint sensor for fast unlocking
  • Barometer
  • Hall effect sensor
  • Android Sensor Hub
  • Advanced x-axis haptics for sharper/defined response
USB-C • 3.1 Gen 1
  • USB-C™
  • 3.1 Gen 1
  • Single Nano SIM
  • USB Type-C and USB-C are trademarks of USB Implementers Forum.
Aluminum unibody • Water & dust resistant
  • Aluminum unibody with hybrid coating
  • IP67 water and dust resistant1
  • Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5
1Pixel has a water protection rating of IP67 under IEC standard 60529. Charger and accessories are not water resistant.
Daydream ready
  • Daydream ready

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