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Google Pixel 2 vs. Pixel 2 XL: What's the difference?

Google's latest phones are here, and it's clear the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are aimed at very different kinds of users. Like the original Pixel phones, Google has worked with manufacturers with very specific hardware goals in mind. This means things like the camera and processor are identical, but if you're going to choose between these two phones it is important to know what makes each one special.

Here's a quick look at how these two Pixel phones are going to grab your attention.

Train wreck up front, party in the back

You don't have to stare at these phones for terribly long to see there's a significant design difference on the front of these phones. Both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have stereo front-facing speakers, which means these phones are already going to be a little taller than your average phone in the same general size, but the Pixel 2 clearly looks different from the Pixel 2 XL from the front.

This is cool, but show me the specs!

The big bezels on the top and bottom of the Pixel 2 wrap up its 5-inch 1080p display, and there's no denying it looks a little chunky compared to the 6-inch 2880x1440 display on the Pixel 2 XL. This isn't a deal-breaker by any stretch, especially if you compare the Pixel 2 to the Nexus 5X and see how strikingly similar they are physically. Ultimately in comes down to aspect ratio. The Pixel 2 has a traditional "cinematic" aspect ratio (16:9) that makes sure video fills the screen without stretching or black bars, while the "fullscreen" aspect ratio (18:9) of the Pixel 2 XL makes the phone feel like it's nothing but display in your hand when playing games or taking photos.

There are a lot of opinions about which of these phones is doing it "right" on the front end.

The differences don't stop at the bezels, but things do get a little messy from here. The LG-made Pixel 2 XL is packing a whole lot more pixels in its larger display, but more does not necessarily mean better. Setting the two phones side by side, the colors on the larger phone appear less vibrant and almost flat in many situations. Tilting the larger phone to extreme angles reveals a blue-ish tint on the sides of the screen, and using the larger phone with the display brightness all the way down exposes some artifacts that can leave you thinking there's something wrong with the display. Perhaps most egregious of all, there's growing concern these displays are experiencing rapid burn-in when constant blacks are drawn on the display.

For a pair of phones that are as close to identical as you can get from the back, there are a lot of opinions about which of these phones is doing it "right" on the front. If you prefer larger displays and slimmer bezels, you clearly have some thoughts here. If you appreciate a quality display in every situation, you clearly have some thoughts here. Is there a wrong answer here? Not really, but when the most used part of your phone is offering a questionable experience there's plenty reason to pause and think about where your priorities really are.

Size doesn't mean power

The larger display and higher resolution on the Pixel 2 XL means it's going to consume quite a bit more power than the Pixel 2, which is to be expected. Both of these phones are running the Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of RAM, so the Pixel 2 XL is going to have to work a little hard to display a lot of the same things. Because it is also a larger phone, there's a larger battery inside.

The 2700mAh battery in the Pixel 2 should be more than enough to get you through a day of use, but the 3520mAh battery in the Pixel 2 XL is dramatically larger. In fact, its 220mAh greater capacity than the battery in the equally large LG V30, which is good news for anyone who needs a phone that lasts more than a standard day.

Despite this difference in battery capacity, both Pixels have an 18W USB-C PD charger in the box capable of providing up to seven hours of use with 15 minutes connected to power. The numbers on the page may be substantially different, but it's clear Google expects Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL owners to have similar battery life expectations.

Which one should you buy?

Until we learn more about the issues impacting the Pixel 2 XL display, it's a lot easier to recommend the smaller Pixel 2 as "the phone" you should consider buying right now. In fact, it's currently our pick for the Best Android Phone you can buy right now. This doesn't mean the Pixel 2 XL is a "bad" phone, and in fact if you need that larger display or bigger battery there's still a ton of things to love about the larger phone, but when it comes to a zero-compromise experience, I'd say the Pixel 2 is the best bet right now.

Where to buy the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Updated October 2017: We've updated this post with the latest differences to help you make the best choice when upgrading.

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

82 Comments
  • Neither, but if I was it would be the XL 2, in all black of course.
  • IF I'm going to spend a buttload of money, and I might, I'm going for the 6-inch screen, so the Pixel 2 XL.
  • Just pre-ordered Pixel 2 XL 128gb in black. Fingers crossed that my 6P battery lasts until the 2 XL arrives.
  • The difference is 2016 vs 2017. 1080p and bezels-a-plenty vs 2k and bezel-less. I wouldn't pay a penny more than $500 for the P2.
  • Good thing Google is giving me $350 for my Pixel, so this phone will only cost me $300. Not bad really.
  • Yeah, not too bad, but, I gave Samsung my old work iPhone 6S and they gave me 2 S8s for $750. Sold one for $550 on eBay and ended up with a $200 S8. That is the way to do it though. Keep your phone very safe and trade in every year. Ends up roughly the same cost or maybe even less than buying a new phone outright every 2 years.
  • except for the fact that you have to pay that 2nd line fee for 2 years... so $480 if that line fee is $20 a month.
  • What? No, that was for 2 unlocked phones straight from Samsung. No service to pay for them.
  • You could have sold your Pixel on Swappa for $450-$500 maybe more for the Pixel XL. Then it would have cost $200. 😉
  • Pixel 2 all the way. Same experience (apart from the display) in a smaller form factor. I have a Samsung Galaxy S8 and I can't say I'm particularly enamoured with it. It's just all display. I'm now well over bezel-less displays. I much prefer smaller phones so the Pixel 2 will suit me just fine. I'm a little worried that the DXO Mark test mentions a susceptibility to lens flare - I really hoped Google had sorted out that one. I was burned by it before when I had a Pixel 2.
  • Just out of curiosity. How and why exactly would you be "over bezel-less displays"? Over the infinity screen, I understand. I'm almost over the infinity screen myself, but never have I said "Man, I wish I had less screen area and blank bezel space". I ask with genuine curiosity. I have heard of people that seem to have issues with holding their phone or accidental touches because of the bezel-less screen (again, more likely because of the infinity screen), but I have never had that issue. Personally I've been waiting for bezel-less for ages (though I understand it may not be as important to others), but am highly disappointed by all the companies that used it as an opportunity to make an EVEN BIGGER PHONE. I got the S8 and I've been more than happy with it. The only phone that makes me a little jelly is the V30, but again, a bit too big.
  • When I bought my Galaxy S8 I thought that display was the best thing ever - but after using it over the past few months I'm over the excitement of the small bezels and focusing more on what I don't like about Samsung. I dislike the curved screen edges too - it's just a gimmick. I got my old Nexus 5 out this morning and I really love that phone, bezels and all. Basically I'm saying I don't care any more whether a phone display has bezels or not. All small phones have bezels so I have no choice anyway. To me it's like framing a piece of art - sometimes a wide frame works, sometimes a smaller frame is better. It really doesn't matter.
  • Okay, fair enough. I guess my reason for liking the bezel-less design is to get more screen in a smaller device. The same screen could have more bezel and work just as well, it'd just be a slightly larger package. We certainly all have different priorities with phones though. I like the picture frame metaphor though. I guess that's why the frame I bought last weekend was super modernish and no more than 0.1" wide, haha. I do love the feel of my N5 every time I pull it out though. For a "cheap" phone, it sure was nice in the hand and to use.
  • Actually you don't get more screen. The Galaxy S8 plus is almost equal to a 5.5 16:9 aspect ratio screen.
  • I
  • It's interesting you say that because based on my observations, all 6 inch screens look significantly bigger than my S8 plus, to my naked eye. Even the iPhone 5.5 inch plus phones appear bigger. There is something to be said about a width of a screen versus just the sheer lenght. The S8 plus just does not seem a true 6.3 inch screen or even 6 inches..
  • What I dislike about Bezel-less displays is the fact that when I grab a phone with no bezel, I am always touching the screen accidentally, so whoever has to show me something always has to find it again because with a tap in a random area of that bezel-less screen its already gone who knows where.
  • The Nexus 5 was one phone you didn't bother putting a case on, so it always felt super slim! Yes, the ergonomics were first rate. I have the bright red one and it always attracted comments.
  • Yeah, my wife's old N5 finally died after multiple repairs over the years. I loved that phone, I upgraded my wife to a 5x when the old 5 showed signs of trouble and since then I used it quite a bit.
  • Also, video watching and sidebars cut almost a full inch of the viewing of videos on the XL2. Much less pocketable. Will Wait for in hand reviews in the next few weeks to decide.
  • No surprises. Two very average phones at the very top of mid tier pricing. Why anyone would pay full price is... Oh... No it isn't mind boggling... Google knows many actually care about the quickest access to new Android OS and updates. The 18:9 in the Pixel 2 XL is a good start... Nothing else is impressive about either phone. A serious yawn on the specs.
  • Brings up an interesting question. What is 3 years of OS and security updates worth (immediate updates I should say)? $100? $200? 2 to 3 years should be standard, but the immediate updates direct from Google I suppose are worth a little for me. Too bad that's the case and not just an expectation for every manufacturer.
  • Don't forget unlimited cloud storage for full resolution pics and video. What's that worth ? Depends on the person. To some that makes up for some of the cost right there. Flicked via the BlackBerry keyboard on my Pixel
  • Can't wait to get a BlackBerry virtual keyboard and Hub, on a Pixel 2xl.
  • If you actually watched the presentation or listened to the AC podcast, you would realize that hardware has almost reached parity among OEMs, and that it is quickly becoming secondary to the software experience. I'd be lying if I didn't admit myself that I am a little disappointed in the styling of these phone, but if you are totally focused on the hardware, you are completely missing out on all of the mind blowing things Google is attempting with their software experience this year. There are so many incredible software features that are coming to this phone, from the active camera stabilization and post processing, to the leveraging of Assistant, to just the ambient things that the phone does while you're not even touching it like tagging songs and displaying them on the always-on display. Google is also clearly doubling down on creating a whole, mature ecosystem among its hardware, and the integration with the Nest brand of products and its newly announced accessories is incredible. Take a little deeper look. This phone is actually pretty cool under the surface. You buy a Pixel phone for an integrated, highly AI oriented software experience unlike what any other manufacturer (including Apple) is even close to attempting right now, not what the hardware specs are on paper.
  • Mobile software experience? Did you really write that with a straight face? I run apps... And it just doesn't matter if it's Apple or OS under the hood in the background. Hardware parity? You can't be serious!... Drinking too much Google Kool aid.
  • Yes, mobile software experience. Watch the presentation, you'll find lots of nice thoughtful touches that no other OEM can even come close to. Google can write software that is so much closer to the metal simply because of the fact that they created the OS and that's worth something in my opinion. Especially the camera tricks, that's some beautiful work right there. If you think it's just about "running apps" then go try using an Essential phone. It's utter dogshit. All the best hardware specs in the world don't mean jack if you can't leverage it with software.
  • Totally agree. Hardware parity is here people software and services are where the meat is now.
  • What exactly do you find as being "average"? Its top end hardware and displays with the best camera in the market. I guess as a child you cant get that and think the price is actually a lot of money.
  • To be honest, I got my old Nexus 5 out today. A lovely phone, perfect form factor. I so wish Google brought out something like that - plastic case and all. As long as the tech inside is 2017 I'm happy with the Pixel 2.
  • I just sold my 5X last week to someone in need of a good, simple, and inexpensive phone. It still is pretty good. But last year's Pixel is way faster. I can only imagine how long you can have a good software experience on the 2017 Pixel phones. Till the battery gives out I suppose. Because that's what will probably get me off my 2016 Pixel. Flicked via the BlackBerry keyboard on my Pixel
  • Pre-ordered the XL 2 128gb Panda during the announcment. Sad I have to wait until end of Nov :( I hear reports of Nov 15th, but email confirmation said shipping Nov 25-28th :~(
  • November??? Mine says Oct 19-20!!! I also pre-ordered during the event. Why such a big difference? Did you order the Verizon one?
  • The black and white 2 XL said the same for me, 6 to 8 weeks, and the all black one said Oct 17. Really wanted the black and white one but didn't want to wait, so I got the all black one. Oh well! The weird thing is that my confirmation email said they won't charge my card until it ships, and lo and behold, they charged my card today. Wouldn't that just be the bees knees if my 2 XL is on it's way already? Probably was just a goof, but hey, a guy can dream, right?
  • Pre-orderd the XL 2 128 and got it ordered as soon as the new store went live - shipping October 17.
  • Did they charge your card already? Just wondering because they sent a confirmation email saying that they wouldn't charge my card until it ships, and my card was definitely charged today..... ( O_O )
  • Nope. They hit it with an authorization, but no charge.
  • Better question is Pixel XL vs Pixel XL 2. For 849, Google should include earbuds at a minimum
  • I don't think you understand how capitalism works.
  • So when the black bars come into play on the 2XL aren't you left watching a video in roughly the same size as the smaller Pixel 2?
  • Bingo!!! Don't forget the soft navigation buttons. I might be wrong but most of the smartphones I've seen with minimal bezels have the space that would have been occupied with bezels, filled with void areas (during gaming or media playback) or UI elements that took the place of their hardware equivalent. So what was gained? More screen real estate that isn't readily available to begin with?
  • Yep. Or you can fill the screen but then you're cropping the top and bottom off the video. That's why I will always use 16:9 until I have no other choice.
  • Well that's that. I'm ordering a Sony XZ1 or XZ Premium. I likes me some bezels, IP68 waterproofing and headphone jacks. And for under $600.
  • If you want bezels just get the Pixel2.
  • I'd love the XZ1. Has a headphone jack and wifi calling on tmobile. I just can't justify buying a new phone this year when I am using an original Pixel as the performance increase will be negligible.
  • No wireless charging? Will not consider it.
  • You should really just go to apple then. People like you deserve to pay more for less because you're too stupid to see what actual features are. Bye normie trash.
  • What does the Pixel XL 2 have more of than the iPhone 8? Pay more for less but the XL2 doesn't have Wireless Charging? Sounds a$$ backwards. And you DO know this cost more than the 256gb iPhone 8 right?
  • Your comment makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Are you saying he deserves to buy a Pixel 2?
  • Samsung has more features for the same price as the 128GB 2 XL. If you want less hardware features for MORE money, go with a Pixel 2 XL or an iPhone.
  • The pixal xl looks awesome I am definitely going to purchase one of them.
  • XL2 64gb... Oct 19th... Oh yeah!
  • Already pre-ordered the black Pixel 2 XL 128 GB.
  • Yeah I'm going to sit this generation out. I do with they had the smaller bezels on the Pixel 2 but they are still nice. Going to stick with first gen Pixel for another year.
  • This was actually a tougher decision than I thought it'd be, but I went with a 2 XL. I've got a 5.5 inch screen on my 6s Plus, so I'm not sure how much I'd be okay with going smaller. I'm also not going to complain about having the larger battery.
  • i was specting the Pixel 2 (smaller) with the same kind of display (aspect ratio) like the 2XL, I guess this time Im going to just get the GS8
  • I like the Kinda Blue and smaller size of the Pixel 2, but I likely won't be upgrading this year.
  • Unlocked LG G6 two weeks ago.
    Headphone jack, FM radio, minimal bezels, micro SD, Snapdragon 821, 16x8 display with >550 ppi, wireless charging, etc...
    $449.
    So can someone tell me why the Pixel 2 XL is worth 2x what the LG G6 cost me?
  • You forgot the dual cam of G6. But to answer your question, it's newer. Period.
  • Absolutely fantastic top-of-the-line camera w/ simultaneous optical + digital image stabilization, Active Edge, front firing stereo speakers, Snapdragon 835, faster RAM, unlimited full quality photo/video storage, 3 years of platform and security updates, Daydream support, much better software experience than a G6 w/ no bloatware, Bluetooth 5.0, always-on P-OLED screen with a 100,000:1 contrast ratio, the fastest fingerprint sensor to date, and the hands-down best warranty support I've ever had on a smartphone, ever. But the bottom line is that experiences are subjective, it's what value does it add to your life vs the price you paid for it. I could list a million top of the line specs but it doesn't matter if it doesn't do what you want it to do. I'm trading in my Pixel XL for the 2 XL, so in the end it's going to cost me approx $500, and I'm totally happy with the specs. What really sold me was all the thoughtful software features. YMMV though
  • you forgot, Terrible camera. LG software. last gen processor. but, maybe you don't mind those issues for half the price, which is fine.
  • Because Google thinks they're Apple?
  • Why do I feel that the Oneplus 5 is better and worth more (has more value) than the smaller Pixel 2?
  • Probably because you're not on Verizon...
  • I don't think this is a fair comparsion. If it should be compared to a Pixel, compare it to the Pixel 2 XL. The smaller Pixel is meant for those who want a smaller flagship phone, which has become a rarity. The OnePlus 5 is far from small.
  • It's a toss up for me. I would want the big battery because it's what I like (I'm at 5 hours SOT right now on my U11 with 20% left). But, I like manageable sizes and screen reach because I don't have a 6 inch long thumb ;) Another factor is screen quality, and I've heard the XL screen is better. Only other things are speakers and build quality, but I think LG's build quality has been good after the G5.
  • My big question is the XL worth $200 more than the regular. Get the regular Pixel and what else could you spend the extra 200 on?
  • I'll definitely pick the smaller one
  • I stopped into a Verizon store to look at these phones. The 2 actually looks better in person than the XL. Don't get me wrong, the bezels are too big. But overall the design is minimalist in a good way. The XL overdoes every 'rounded corner' trick in the book. The front glass is almost cartoonishly rounded - and since the screen doesn't wrap like on the S8, there's no advantage to it. Plus the small bezels that *are* there look bigger because of how the rounded glass draws your eye to them - and becuase they're not symmetrical. And then there are the rounded screen corners that don't particularly parallel the curvature anywhere else. The small one has rounded glass - but just slightly so to add some polish. And the screen edges are square, which doesn't fight with the bezels. Shrink those bezels, and this would be a great form factor. Or if you must, expand the screen to fill up the space. But keep it simple, folks.
  • Screen burn in vs. NFC ticking. hmmmm I can't decide.
  • Blue tint/burn-in VS speaker "pops". Tough decision.
  • I really hope they get a revised handset out soon with a decent screen. The Pixel 2 XL is still the only phone that has the most features I want and need in a phone. The Note 8 and V30 do nothing for me really nor does the iPhone 8 Plus. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro will be my next phone if they don't fix the Pixel
  • Hey Dov, what's drawing you to the Mate 10 Pro? Camera?
  • The cameras, the huge battery, AI, great screen, EMUI is really nice, desktop mode, IR Blaster. I got a Huawei P10 to try after my Galaxy S8's and I've been very very impressed by it so the Mate 10 Pro looks like a great upgrade from it.
  • They coated the metal on the Pixels with the same crap they coated the LG G5 with. Everybody was up in arms how that ruined the "premium" feel. But now, because they put it on Pixel phones, it supposedly feels grrrrreat! Whatever. Everything about these phones screams inferior hardware. So, evidently the choices in Android now at the top end are great hardware, with garbage software (Samsung), or garbage hardware with great software (Google)
  • Yep! Garbage! Not hyperbole!
  • My Pixel 2 XL has shipped. Cool. I'll give it a hearty go when I get it.
  • I just cancelled my preorder for the panda 128gb, too many bad reviews and issues for a 1000 0home went with the Note8 maybe next year
  • Just looked at my Galaxy s8 from the side and I can't believe it but the screen actually looks darker with a hint of blue from the side. I'm furious with Samsung right now and can't believe they'd ship phones with such an absolutely garbage screen. It's extremely insulting to get such a poor product and I am going to demand that Samsung recalls the Galaxy s8 over this. I recommend everybody do the same. Nobody should have a deal with a phone that looks slightly different from the side which they look at all the time. Unbelievable. Samsung you are disgraceful.
  • I like you. You I relate to 🤣
  • What's the longest shutter speed the sensor can stay open using a third party app? I love to do late night long exposure photography.
  • I have the Pixel 2 XL (had the former XL, too), and I love the phone. I spent a LONG time reading reviews--primarily the warnings/glitch stories--before I decided to buy the 2 XL. I have had ZERO problems with the phone, and love using it. I also have the iPhone 8 Plus, which is excellent, but I prefer the Pixel 2 XL. The 2 XL just feels more luxurious, better in the hand, etc., but the really big thing, if you look for this feature as a top choice, is the camera. I have spent time using both phones in the same place/time taking the exact same photo. The Google Pixel 2 XL is the winner every time. Seriously, the sharpness is beyond belief. Don't know what might happen with screen burn-in down the line, but as of now, my Pixel 2 XL is flawless and brilliant.