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Google’s Pixel XL 2 review: It needs these 10 features

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Written by Kamil Arli

Forbes Columnist Jay McGregor listed of the 10 important features that Google’s Pixel XL 2 needs

Google’s Pixel XL was comfortably the best phone of 2016. But will the Pixel XL 2 claim the same title?

It could do, but first, it needs to up its game in a few areas. If you’ve got any additions to this list below, let me know in the comments.

Improved Google Assistant

Goodwill towards Assistant slowly waned as it moved further away from the ‘shiny new thing’. Whilst it’s genuinely useful in certain situations (setting reminders and hands-free Google searches), it still needs tweaking.

MAKING IT POSSIBLE TO ADJUST SETTINGS WITH A VOICE COMMAND WOULD BE HUGE

Firstly, making it possible to adjust settings with a voice command would be huge. Imagine dimming the display’s brightness or changing notification profile with a few words. Secondly, ordering food, taxis or general shopping would bring it closer to being an actual assistant.

Front facing speakers

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Bring the front facing speakers back, please. Far too often when I’m holding my Pixel XL horizontally I end up obscuring the speakers with my palm. Front facing speakers on the Nexus 6P provided better sound distribution because they were aimed at you.

Proper bokeh photo effect

The lens blur feature on the camera app is supposed to mimic the bokeh effect. It doesn’t. Given the brilliance of the Pixel XL’s camera, it’s a shame that you can’t take nice portrait pictures like the iPhone 7 or other dual-lens smartphones. A proper bokeh effect should be standard for a top-quality smartphone camera in 2017.

More manual controls on the camera app

LG’s dedication to deep manual controls has made its camera app one of the best since the G4. Tinkering with the ISO, shutter speed, white balance and other bits can dramatically change the end result. It’s also a lot of fun, even for noobs (like me).

No matter what features the new Pixel XL has, the government will still be able to hack it

Waterproofing

Splashproofing is fine, but a full IP rating is fast becoming the industry standard. I’d like to see Google follow suit and make the Pixel XL 2 waterproof.

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More Android pay integration and more Android pay offers

Android Pay got off to a good start, but it could go much further once the Pixel 2 is launched. Google needs to add more banks, apps and websites to its roster of companies that accept Android Pay. There should be more offers, too. The Christmas gift card promotion – where you win gift cards every time you used Android Pay during December – was smart. As is Uber’s limited discounted rides promotion this month.

Assistant stability

Assistant is supposed to respond to commands, even when the phone is locked. It works sometimes but far too often it doesn’t. Assistant will recognise that I’ve said the wake word, but it won’t unlock the phone to perform the command. This is a fairly important feature because it’s supposed to save you time. If you have to unlock your Pixel to ask Assistant to add a calendar entry, you might as well just do it manually.

Modularity

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I know, I know. Google has been down this path with the failed Project Ara. But all is not lost. Modularity works really well for Moto Z range, mainly because of its simplicity. No need to take the phone apart or swap the battery out, just clip something onto the back of the handset. It’s such a good idea that Google should steal it.

Dual lens camera

The dual-lens setup on the LG G5 – one standard, one wide-angle – was a stroke of genius. As is the dual-lens setup on the iPhone 7 and other devices. Capturing that extra depth information, or being able to switch between wide and narrow shots gives you many more options.

Price

We need to talk about how much the Pixel XL costs. I get it, premium phone = premium price. But the top model at $869, which is more expensive than the already overpriced iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus comparative models. It’s a good device, the best even. But at almost $1000, when there’s so much good competition on the Android side, it’s too big a pill to swallow – particualry for old Nexus fans.

About the author

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Kamil Arli

Editor of DigitalReview.co. Digital Media Consultant

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