It’s no secret around these parts that I’ve been deeply enamored with Google’s Pixel. That Android smartphone came almost out of nowhere last year to claim the crown of best mobile camera, and in the process it swept me up as a loyal fan as well. Sure, Google had previously dabbled in the mobile hardware business with its Nexus line, but the first Pixel phones were immediately recognizable as much more serious business. Over the past week I’ve been getting to grips with the Pixel’s successor, the Pixel 2 — both of them in their “regular” 5-inch versions — and trying to decide if enough has changed to merit spending a fresh $650 on the newer model.
At first glance, the two phones appear to be almost identical. The screen size is the same, the Pixel 2 is marginally taller, a tiny bit wider, and slightly thinner than the Pixel, but the overall sense of the two phones’ dimensions is the same. They even weigh the same. And I could only tell you about the small measurement differences because I looked them up. Power button, volume rocker, camera lens, and fingerprint sensor all remain in the same positions on the Pixel 2 as on the Pixel. And yes, the bezels are still vast slabs framing the display’s top and bottom. You’d be forgiven for being underwhelmed, but I’m here to tell you that plenty has actually changed. And the one word to tie it all together is “refinement.”