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Everything You Need to Know About the Google Pixel 2

Google unveiled its highly anticipated Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones on Wednesday. The phones, both currently available for pre-order, will be shipped on Oct. 19.

With the new phones, the search giant continues to demonstrate its hardware ambitions, recently bolstered by its purchase of a phone-making unit at HTC. The Oct. 4 event came a month after rival Apple debuted its iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X at an event at its new Cupertino, Calif. headquarters.

Google’s two Pixel handsets are nearly identical, except for a few key differences in size and screen types. Other aspects, like cameras, speakers, Qualcomm processors, and water resistance, are the same.

Storage

The Pixel 2, manufactured by HTC, is cheaper with a starting price of $649 for the base model, which comes with 64 Gigabytes of storage space and a 5-inch screen. Another $100 comes with 128 Gigabytes of storage.

The Pixel 2 XL, developed by LG, has a 6-inch screen and a $849 price tag for the 64 Gigabyte base model. Similar to its cheaper sibling, another $100 increases that storage to 128 Gigabytes.

Screens

Both phones have organic light emitting diode, or OLED, displays with fine-grained contrast ratios that are generally superior to their Apple iPhone counterparts, Google claims. The Pixel 2 has a display density of 441 pixels per inch and the Pixel 2 XL has a plastic OLED display with 538 pixels per inch; for comparison, Apple’s iPhone 8 has a less efficient liquid crystal, or LCD, display with 326 pixels per inch, its iPhone 8 Plus has a LCD display with 401 pixels per inch, and its iPhone X has an OLED display with 458 pixels per inch.

No Headphone Jack

One major change that some consumers may find controversial: Google has followed Apple’s lead and eliminated a dedicated headphone jack.

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Special Features

The Pixel phones also come with a few unique features. They have an “active edge,” which means that squeezing the phone’s sides—even through a case—summons Google’s virtual voice assistant. And the phones’ displays are always on, meaning its owner can check the time, weather, and other notifications at a glance, without having to click a button.

Cameras

The selling point most hyped by Mario Queiroz, Google’s vice president of product management at a splashy media event on Wednesday, was the phones’ cameras. They achieved a higher rating by the French lens testing firm DxO Labs than any other smartphone on the market, he said.

The technical details: the Pixel 2 phones each have a 12.2-megapixel rear camera with an f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization, besting the lenses on the previous generation of Pixel phones, which had f/2.0 apertures with electronic image stabilization. Google has installed “dual-pixel sensors” on both new phone models, meaning that the lenses focus faster and can achieve the background-blur effect of “portrait mode” shots, similar to what one can capture with a DSLR, without needing two cameras, like Apple’s iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X models.

As a bonus, buyers of Google’s new phone get unlimited storage on Google Photos.