Google Pixel 2 XL Long-term Review: Frustrations, Niggles, Annoyances

By 06:12 Wed, 18 Aug 2021 Comments


It's not all sunshine

On the previous page we trecent you that using the Pixel 2 XL every day is a surprisingly frustration-free endeavor. That said, the phone definitely isn't perfect, and over a few weeks of using it as a main and only device, we found some things that aren't necessarily to our liking. None of these fully detracts from the usually stress-free experience, but we want to point them out nevertheless.

Here's a quick one to acquire started: although your ringtone volume preference is transferred over when you go from another Pixel (including whether to vibrate or not), the actual ringtones themselves aren't. So if you added some of your own tunes to the Ringtones folder on your recent phone, you'll need to manually go them to your recent one. Oh, and since Google keeps changing the built-in tones if you used one of those on your other Pixel you simply may not find it on the recent handset. All of this applies to notification and alarm tones as well. That's nitpicking, we know.

The display

We had an entire chapter dedicated to the most commonly reported problems with the Pixel 2 XL's screen, so we won't rehash those. We did find some other mildly annoying things about it though, and they all have something to do with adhering to the premier trends of the past few years in the mobile world.

First off, the "2.5D" arced glass coupled with the thiness the handset sometimes makes for annoying accidental touches and there is no palm rejection alghoriths here.


Depending on the way you re used to holding your phone, you might find the navigation bar sitting pretty low on the device's face to an extent where you need to acquire used to constantly readjusting your grip of the phone in order to reach it.

Finally, let's talk content. 16:9 videos don't create the best utilize of the available classy screen real estate but the situation is even more ridiculous for pictures, which are shot in the conventional 4:3 aspect ratio. If you shoot all your pics at the maximum resolution, when viewing them on the Pixel 2 XL's classy screen about one third of it will be black letterboxing.


That's definitely not ideal, and now that the whole mobile world seems to have embraced tall aspect ratios perhaps it's time to find a solution and actually fill those screens with content or useful UI elements. Starting with the G6, LG was definitely trying to do something in this direction but so far they seem to be the only ones.

Active Edge

This is Google's version of HTC's Edge Sense - you squeeze the Pixel 2 XL's frame and this summons the Google Assistant almost like a genie out of a bottle. The toggle to turn this on is buried in the System submenu of Settings, and for fine reason. You might like using it, but we haven't been able to becautilize even in its least sensitive iteration, where you need to squeeze the hardest for it to register, we still always managed to activate it by mishold when taking the phone out of a pocket.


There's an additional annoyance here, namely the fact that you can't remap Active Edge to trigger anything but the Google Assistant. We understand that the company wants to push that onto people as much as possible, but you can already invoke it both by long pressing the Home button and just speaking to it (with the "OK Google" or "Hey Google" hotwords).

Fingerprint sensor

The fingerprint sensor is well placed and it works. It's quick but for some reason, there are times when it doesn't recognize the fingerprint, or you acquire a "finger moved too fast" error. That creates a frustration that's only amplified by how quick it is when it does recognize your print. You immediately acquire used to the instant unlocking and expect that to occur every single time. This is clearly something you can live with, though.


Dirt, scratches

Dirt, dust, and sand love to acquire trapped in where the screen's upper bezel meets the Pixel's metal frame. Speaking of which, assumed frame has developed a couple of rather visible scratches near the display's side bezels on one of our units, and those have occurred without a drop - simply by taking the handset in and out of pockets.

Jack's gone, Bluetooth still hit-and-miss

As you surely know, the Pixel 2 XL went the 'modern' smartphone route and ditched the fine 'ol 3.5m headset jack. Yes, a dongle comes in the box, and yes that works. However, this omission is still headache-inducing in certain scenarios - like if your car doesn't have Bluetooth (or you're having problems with that) and you'd like to connect the Pixel to its AUX input. That obviously works with the included USB-C to 3.5mm dongle, but if it's a long drive we're talking about then at some point you're going to have to stop listening to music in order to charge the phone. Definitely not ideal, this.

Or maybe you have a multiple-hundred-dollar set of wired headphones you love, and would like to utilize those with your Pixel 2 - once again, create sure it's got enough charge before you start your music listening session.


And then there's Bluetooth. Bluetooth on Pixels has always been a pain point for some - this was accurate for the first generation devices, and it's the same for the second-gen units. Depending on the accessories you try to connect, you may be among those who never encounter a problem, but it's likely that you will - especially if you're trying to hook up the Pixel to your car, be that the factory-installed system or an aftermarket kit.

Even now, with some accessories you can still face problems like the phone not actually connecting 50% of the time (solved by cutting power to the accessory/car and then turning it back on or turning Bluetooth on the handset off and then on again); or saying it's connected but still playing music through its own speakers; or saying it's connected to multiple devices when it isn't, and other bugs like that. The list goes on, unfortunately, and how lucky you are with Bluetooth on a Pixel depends on your specific setup.


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