Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL announced with 'best-in-class' cameras and squeeze-for-Assistant command

Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL announced with 'best-in-class' cameras and squeeze-for-Assistant command

Pre-orders for the phones, which start from $649, are open now.

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While we continue to wait for the iPhone X, Google has stolen the limelight with a pair of new smartphones of its own, called the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

Coming a year after the original pair of Pixels launched, the new smartphones are the latest examples of how Google aims to blend hardware, software and the company's vast machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities into the ultimate smartphone.

Unlike the iPhone 8 and larger 8 Plus, Google has given the same features (including the cameras) to both the 5in Pixel 2 and 6in Pixel 2 XL.

Both phones have OLED displays, but where the XL gets a resolution of 2880 x 1440 and a pixel density of 538 per inch, the Pixel 2 has to make do with 1920 x 1080 and 441 pixels per inch.

Not only is the XL's an inch larger and packed with more pixels, but it also has a 18:9 aspect ratio, giving it a thin-and-long look shared with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone X. Like those handsets, the Pixel 2 XL's display is curved at its edges (when viewed in portrait), and stretches further to the top edge of the phone than on the previous XL.

Although not mentioned by Google during its presentation, the Pixel no longer has a headphone jack, meaning you will have to use USB-C or Bluetooth headphones.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have the same new 12.2MP camerasGoogle

The XL is available in 'Kinda Blue', 'Just Black' and 'Clearly White', while the regular Pixel 2 is offered in Just Black, and black and white finish which lacks a cool name. The new smartphones run a stock version of Google's Android Oreo operating system and feature the same squeezable sides as the HTC 11.

New sensors mean the phones know when you intentionally squeeze them - even when they are inside a case. Using a system called Active Edge, a squeeze can be used to take a selfie when the camera app is open, or to launch Google Assistant, the company's voice-activated personal butler and smart home controller.

As with the original Pixels, the new phones' fingerprint readers are on the back. Google claims they unlock the phones faster than any other handset on sale today.

Another bold claim by Google is how the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL apparently have the best camera ever fitted to any smartphone. The 12.2-megapixel rear-facing camera, the same on both devices, scored 98 in tests conducted by image quality referencing firm DxOMark, up from 89 for last year's Pixel duo.

Both handsets offer IP67 water and dust resistance, meaning they can survive being submerged in up to three feet of fresh water for 30 minutes. Google also promises both offer an "all-day" battery life, and fast charging to give seven hours of use after being plugged in for just 15 minutes. Both are Daydream-ready, meaning they work with Google's Daydream virtual reality headset.

This year's must-have smartphone feature, a portrait mode to blur the background of close-up photos, is included with the front and rear cameras of both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

Despite the handsets not having the dual-lens setup of the Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus (which use the two cameras to achieve blurred background portrait snaps), the Google duo use artificial intelligence and pixels which capture a left and right perspective of each photo to create the same effect.

Additionally, both phones pack optical image stabilization (OIS) on their rear cameras, and a digital video stabilization system which works in tandem with the OIS to produce super-smooth videos. Google claims its phones are the only ones on sale today which use both systems at the same time when shooting video.

Finally, a new camera feature called Motion Photos records three seconds of video before each photo you take, letting you pick the perfect frame afterwards, or simply add some life and movement to your photos - Harry Potter-style. Basically, it's the same as Apple's Live Photos on the iPhone.

The Pixel 2 is priced at $649 for 64GB of storage and $749 for 128GB.The Pixel 2 XL is $849 for 64GB and $949 for 128GB. Pre-orders open today through the Google Store and network partner Verizon.

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