Last year, Google discontinued the ‘Nexus’ brand in favor of ‘Pixel’. Every year Google would introduce the latest Android version on a Nexus device. That changed with Pixel and Google’s newfound interest in hardware.

The original Google Pixel though an odd device out thanks to its clumsy design, made a mark because of its extraordinary camera even in low light. DxOMark awarded Google Pixel the highest rating for a smartphone camera at 89.

It is 2017; Google still holds the highest DxOMark with its latest flagship Google Pixel 2 at 98. It is not just the camera.

Google has come a long way since the original Pixel and has added the features it missed out last time.

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In aesthetics, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are nothing short of remarkable. Surprisingly, they don’t borrow many design elements from Samsung and Apple and thus, look quite distinct from other smartphones in the market.

When every smartphone vendor trying to go bezel-less with in their smartphone design, Google, unexpectedly, doesn’t seem to giving a damn.The chunky bezel running around the display on each phone remains the biggest disappointment.

Unlike iPhone 8, Google could have stretched out the display on the Pixels to make them feel a bit modern. Alas that did not happen. Google could have taken a lesson or two from Mi MIX or Galaxy S8

Spec-wise Pixel devices are not very different from any other flagship in the market.

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First Device with Android Oreo

Pixel is first device to ship with Android Oreo. Android Oreo is the eight version of Android. Google bring a new version of Android every year.

Google has brought many new features with Oreo, including support of Picture in picture, autofill APIs and notifications channels.

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Highest rated smartphone camera by DxOMark

Thankfully, Pixel 2 could live up to the expectations created by its predecessor. It once again could raise the bar what a smartphone camera is capable of with DxOMark rating of 98.

Here is how is camera has changed over the original Pixel:

  • dual-pixel sensor on the back
  • optical image stabilization for photos and videos
  • smaller pixels 1.4μm vs. 1.55μm.
  • larger aperture f/1.8 compared to last year’s f/2.0

Camera Samples taken on a Google Pixel 2 XL.

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It supports both Google AR and VR.

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are among the first few phones to support Project Tango and Daydream VR. While most devices support Daydream VR, only a handful of devices support Project Tango, Google ambitious project to make every Android AR compatible.

I hope the situation changes with Google Pixel 2 as Apple is making a great leap into augmented reality with ARKit, introduced with iOS 11.

Google’s ARCore framework is completely active on the Pixel 2, so Google has come up with “stickers” that a person can stick into a scene in real time. Google has stroke some partnerships with popular TV shows, comic and magazine to source interesting stickers.

It supports both Google AR and VR.

Google believes the future isn’t hardware-software integration but hardware-machine learning integration. Google is using machine learning algorithms and AI to problems which other companies are solving through nicer hardware.

Like every flagship this year, Google did not go with dual lenses and relied upon a single lens camera on the back. To compensate for the additional lens, Google employed a pile of innovations into Pixel 2, which when taken together and passed through Google’s machine learning, they delivered results better than any other smartphone could.

The machine learning algorithm can detect hand shake through data from various sensors: gyros, gravity sensor, etc., detect where the OIS module was at the time of shakeup, and then passes the data through Google machine learning algorithms, resulting in a stable video.

Conclusion

Google is sticking to the strategy it formed last year: leaning heavily into HDR and machine learning. In fact, it omitted OIS in last year’s Pixel in favour of EIS with fascinating results.

Google finds clever ways to apply machine learning and AI to problems that Apple and Samsung force with better hardware.