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Google unveils Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL with no headphone jack

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After rumors and leaks, Google product chief Mario Queiroz today unveiled two new Android 8.1 Oreo smartphones at its annual hardware event: the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL. Available for preorder starting today, the two phones will see a staggered rollout.

The smaller Pixel 2 sports a 5-inch, 1080p display, with a 16:9 aspect ratio that was until this year the standard on Android flagships. The larger Pixel 2 XL, meanwhile, has a 6-inch, QHD+ display in an 18:9 aspect ratio, in line with 2017’s flagship smartphones. The Pixel 2 thus still has a large bezel while the Pixel XL 2 has a noticeably reduced bezel profile, although certainly not the smallest we’ve seen. As always, smartphone size also dictates battery capacity: 2700 mAh for the Pixel 2 and 3520 mAh for the Pixel 2 XL.

Design and size aside, the two phones feature similar specifications. Indeed, “We don’t set aside features for the larger device,” Quieroz quipped, a clear dig at Apple’s iPhone lineup.

Here’s the rundown: Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM, either 64GB or 128GB of storage, a 12-megapixel rear camera, front stereo speakers, a fingerprint scanner on the back, a USB-C port on the bottom, and no headphone jack. “Use your existing analog headphones with the included adapter,” Queiroz said.

Speaking of audio, the Pixel 2s have a music recognition feature that is always on, Google’s director of product management Sabrina Ellis revealed. Whenever music is playing nearby and the second-generation Pixel recognizes the song, it will automatically show the artist and title on your lock screen. This is a massive leap given that Google Assistant still doesn’t have song recognition.

As with Nexus phones, Pixel hardware isn’t the big selling point here — it’s software. Like their predecessors, these phones ship with Google Assistant available wherever you are in the phone. The original Pixel and Pixel XL were the first phones with Google Assistant, and while Google has since brought Assistant to non-Google Android phones, new Assistant features are shown off on new Pixels first.

The Pixel 2s offer a new way to access Google Assistant: squeezing the side of the phone, first introduced in smartphones by HTC. Google is calling its feature Active Edge, but the idea is the same: Instead of pressing a physical button or touching the screen, you can squeeze the phone’s frame to perform an action, such as launching Google Assistant. “Your Assistant is just a quick squeeze away,” Ellis declared.

The HTC-manufactured Pixel 2 will be available in Just Black, Clearly White, and Kinda Blue on October 19. The LG-manufactured Pixel 2 XL will ship in Just Black and Black & White on November 15. The Pixel 2 will be available for $649 (64GB) and $749 (128GB) while the Pixel 2 XL will come in $849 (64GB) and $949 (128GB) flavors.

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