Pixel 4 XL vs. Pixel 2 XL: Should you upgrade?

Google Pixel 4 XL

Google Pixel 4 XL

The Pixel 4 XL offers exciting upgrades in just about every area. The 90Hz QHD+ panel is stunning, and a significant improvement over the lackluster display on the Pixel 2 XL. You'll also find two cameras at the back, wireless charging, a Soli chip that enables Motion Sense, and 6GB of RAM as standard.

Google Pixel 4 XL

Obvious upgrade

Latest hardware
90Hz display
Soli chip with Motion Sense
Wireless charging
Upgraded cameras
Battery may not be adequate

Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 XL

The Pixel 2 XL is a decent enough phone in 2019, but that display just doesn't cut it anymore. Colors look washed out, and the OLED panel isn't anywhere in the same league as the Pixel 4 XL. If you're still rocking the Pixel 2 XL, do yourself a favor and pick up the Pixel 4 XL.

Google Pixel 2 XL

Time to move on

Pure Android
Rear camera is still great
Decent battery life
Traditional fingerprint sensor
Display doesn't hold up
Updates end in 2020

Google has managed to do keep the design language consistent across the Pixel line, and you can see the evolution of the design from the Pixel 2 XL to the Pixel 4 XL. That said, there are welcome upgrades under the hood, including a screen with high refresh rate, wireless charging, refreshed internal hardware, and a new radar chip.

Here's why you should upgrade to the Pixel 4 XL from the Pixel 2 XL

Pixel 4 XL vs. Pixel 2 XL

Pictured: Pixel 4 XL.

Google hasn't made too many design changes from the Pixel 2 XL to last year's Pixel 3 series, but we do see a few tweaks this time around. You can see the evolution of design from the 2 XL to the Pixel 4 XL, and the two-tone finish with a glass dome is making way for a cleaner look. The highlight at the back is now a square camera module that houses two sensors — a main 12.2-megapixel shooter joined by a 16-megapixel telephoto lens.

The Pixel 4 XL has noticeable bezels up front for the Soli hardware, and in this regard the phone shares a lot of similarities with the 2 XL. The bottom bezel is thinner, however, as the primary speaker is now located at the bottom next to the USB-C port. The white option — it's called Very White this time — has an orange power button that adds a bit of flair to the design, similar to what you get on the white option of the Pixel 2 XL.

The Pixel 4 XL offers meaningful upgrades in every single area from the Pixel 2 XL.

Google is offering sizable hardware upgrades with the Pixel 4 XL, including a 90Hz QHD+ display that's one of the best you'll find on any phone today. With the Pixel 2 XL featuring a sub-par OLED display riddled with issues, that's a welcome change. The high refresh rate immediately makes a difference in day-to-day usage, with every interaction instantaneous. That's a big deal. What also makes the Pixel 4 XL that much more enticing is the fact that there's no cutout this time around.

There's no fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 4 XL; you'll have to use face unlock exclusively. The feature is pretty standard on Android these days, but most brands rely on a software-driven system that's not as secure as a fingerprint sensor. That's not the case on the Pixel 4 XL — it uses an IR-based system that works in conjunction with the Soli radar hardware, and is highly secure. You'll be able to use the feature to authorize Google Pay transactions or access your bank's app.

Soli also enables Motion Sense, which lets you skip through songs or silence incoming calls just by waving your hand over the screen. Motion Sense works with Spotify, YouTube Music, YouTube, Amazon Music, and a few other streaming services, and it is likely we'll see more added to the list in the future.

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CategoryGoogle Pixel 4 XLGoogle Pixel 2 XL
Operating systemAndroid 10Android 10
Display6.3-inch 90Hz OLED2960x1440 (18.5:9)Gorilla Glass 6HDR106.0-inch OLED2880x1440 (18:9)Gorilla Glass 5
ChipsetSnapdragon 8551 x 2.84GHz Kryo 4853 x 2.41GHz Kryo 4854 x 1.78GHz Kryo 485Adreno 6407nmSnapdragon 8354 x 2.45GHz Kryo4 x 1.90GHz KryoAdreno 54010nm
MicroSD slotNoNo
Rear camera 112.2MP, f/1.81.4um, OISDual Pixel PDAF12.2MP, f/1.81.4um, OISDual Pixel PDAF
Rear camera 216MP telephoto
Front camera 18MP, f/1.8Auto focus8MP, f/1.8HDR
ConnectivityWi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0AptX HD, NFC, A-GPSWi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0AptX, NFC, A-GPS
AudioUSB-CStereo speakersUSB-CStereo speakers
ChargingUSB-C PD18WUSB-C 3.118W
Water resistanceIP68IP67
SecurityFace unlockFingerprint (capacitive)
Dimensions158 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm184g157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9mm175g
ColorsJust Black, Very White, Oh So OrangeJust Black, Black & White

Google hasn't altered the camera hardware for some time now — the Pixel 4 XL still has a 12.2-megapixel f/1.8 primary sensor — but it takes better photos because of numerous tweaks to the software algorithms. However, the standout feature this time around is the addition of a secondary telephoto lens, which adds that much more versatility to your shots. It's a shame that Google doesn't offer a wide-angle lens, but it is good to see a secondary shooter on a Pixel.

Pixel 4 XL vs. Pixel 2 XL

Pictured: Pixel 2 XL.

On the software front, the Pixel 4 XL has the next-generation Google Assistant with a redesigned interface and more features. The new Assistant will debut in the U.S. and make its way to other markets in due course of time, and should be rolling out to the Pixel 2 XL as well shortly. The Pixel 4 XL comes with Android 10 out of the box, and the Pixel 2 XL also picked up the update once the stable build rolled out last month. But with the Pixel 2 XL already two years old, it will receive security updates for only one more year.

Much better performance, and you finally get 6GB of RAM as standard.

The Pixel 4 XL offers a sizable boost in performance thanks to the Snapdragon 855 chipset, but what you'll like more is the fact that the phone has 6GB of RAM as standard. A common complaint with older Pixel phones was the middling 4GB of RAM, and Google is finally addressing this issue on its latest flagships. The same cannot be said of the internal storage, however: the base variant of the Pixel 4 XL still has 64GB of storage, which doesn't seem nearly enough for a $900 phone.

You also get a marginally larger 3,700mAh battery, but the gains are negated by the power-hungry 90Hz panel. That said, the Pixel 4 XL offers wireless charging, and it works over USB-C PD at 18W. The Pixel 4 XL has IP68 water resistance, allowing it to be that much more resistant to the elements.

Overall, the Pixel 4 XL has so much to offer. The new 90Hz display is fantastic, the design has picked up welcome tweaks, you get 6GB of RAM as standard, and the Snapdragon 855 chipset should hold its own for several years. There's also a secondary 16-megapixel zoom lens joining the 12.2-megapixel primary camera, wireless charging, and a secure face unlock system that's unlike anything on Android today. The PIxel 2 XL can't compare, so it's definitely time to upgrade.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is Android Central's Senior Editor of Asia. In his current role, he oversees the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, networking products, and AV gear. He has been testing phones for over a decade, and has extensive experience in mobile hardware and the global semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.