The big-screen Google Pixel 2 XL starts at $849. Is the 6-inch OLED display worth the big bucks?
This short review is focused almost entirely on the display due to ongoing issues raised by user communities. The Pixel 2 XL’s display is made by LG Display — a relative newcomer to the smartphone OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display business, which to date has been monopolized by Samsung. (Note that the smaller Pixel 2’s display is not made by LG, leaving Samsung as the likely manufacturer.)
I’ve discussed the purported issues with Google both live (on the phone) and via email exchanges. I’vs also exchanged email with a display expert. And have used the $949 2nd-gen XL (128GB) myself for the past four days.
First impression — shock: When I first turned on the Pixel 2 XL, I was shocked. The off-angle blue tint (conspicuously different than the 1st gen XL), the less saturated colors, and an odd grayish blotching on the default apps screen, did not make me a happy camper.
The upshot after four days: but after a few days, I’ve changed my mind. Instead of running back to the store and returning it (my first instinct), I’ll hold on to it.
Why the 180? (1) The off-angle blue tint just doesn’t bother me now. Especially, after taking some photos with the excellent camera. The results were impressive. I liked the color accuracy and color reproduction the display exhibited. Besides, the blue tint thing is really only an issue on white backgrounds: it’s not an issue when you’re looking at a color image. And, again, it’s really not an overall deal-breaker anymore for me.
(2) After viewing lots of images and photos, I don’t mind the so-called “less-saturated” or “muted” colors. Yes, in some photos the colors are less “vibrant” compared to the 1st gen XL but that doesn’t necessarily (always) mean less accurate. When doing some comparison with my 1st-gen Pixel XL and iPhone 7 Plus, the results are, for the most part, excellent. Accurate color reproduction is good. (I’ll also add that my first take is that the Pixel 2 XL’s camera is one of the best — and better than the 1st gen XL.)
(3) That weird blotching that I saw on the apps screen is easily fixable by switching wallpapers. So, it is not a hardware (display) defect.
Note: I have not (yet) experienced the burn-in problem described in a rash of media reports. But I will update this post if I do.
Discussions with Google: Google was very cooperative on all the issues (above) that I raised with them and provided thoughtful feedback. While I was skeptical of their feedback initially, I think most of it is accurate now. Also, Google provides an in-depth “deep dive” on the XL’s display on the Pixel User Community.
Here’s an excerpt from the Google deep dive:
Display P3 can render more colors than sRGB because it has a wider gamut. Without color management, the Android OS passes the decoded sRGB image through to the display, unaware that the display has a wider gamut than the content. As a result, the display reinterprets the color values in this wider gamut and effectively “stretches” the colors. This makes the reds more red, the greens more green, etc. To the user, the screen looks more saturated and colors “pop” more. But the stretching is imprecise; it’s not what the image designer intended. There’s no way for the designer to calculate the stretching effect, hence the rendered colors are not accurate. Most Android mobile phones with OLED displays look saturated for this reason.
With Android 8.0 on Pixel 2 XL, the phone now understands color spaces…As a result, the OS can make sure images are rendered with accurate colors, exactly as the author intended.
Display expert Raymond Soneira, President of DisplayMate Technologies: Raymond Soneira provided some information on background that was helpful. And provided this comment: “Very few reviewers understand current display technology, which gives rise to lots of bogus claims. You can’t simply eyeball mobile and TV display performance anymore, the displays are now considerably more complex with lots of internal modes and variables that need to be properly lab tested, measured, and evaluated.”
Would I recommend the Pixel 2 XL? Yes. With the caveat that some consumers may be put off by the off-angle blue tint and the less-saturated colors. But I would advise not overreacting simply because you’re not getting over-saturated colors.
Other things I like about the Pixel 2 XL: this is the design that Apple should’ve adopted with iPhone X. The large 6-inch display is not quite bezel-less but the top and bottom bezels are minimal. And you don’t get that conspicuous iPhone X notch. Also: Google Assistant (Google’s Siri) is amazing. Puts Apple’s Siri to shame.
Google Pixel 2 XL Display Review: Are There Issues? – Forbes