The original Pixel was Google's clear response to Apple's success with the iPhone, controlling the entire hardware and software equation for a cohesive Android mobile experience. And in a very Apple-like fashion, the sequel is much the same.
While the larger Pixel 2 XL moves away from the iPhone-esque look, the standard-sized Pixel 2 hasn't done much in that regard. It still looks a bit like an off-brand Apple product, even if Google's tweaks are a tiny bit more stylish this time around.
But what about other aspects of the phone, and what about the overall user experience? We didn't think the Pixel bested the iPhone 7 last year, but with Apple's iPhone 8 not making any major strides of its own, the Pixel 2 might have a better fight this time around.
Who takes this battle? Here's what we think, now that we've reviewed both of these top-tier flagships.
Design: Two of a kind
At a glance, the Pixel 2 hasn't really changed much from last year's phone. Then again, the iPhone 8 hasn't changed from the last three editions either. Both have a fairly plain design on the front: a rectangular screen surrounded by a bit too much bezel and little else. At least the Pixel 2 uses that space for stereo speakers.
When you flip the phones, however, you see where these versions vary from their predecessors, not to mention each other. The Pixel 2 still has the two-tone effect from before, with a glass cutout up top and a back-mounted fingerprint sensor (the iPhone's is up front, of course). The cutout looks a bit sleeker now plus the bottom's a little grippier, giving the Pixel 2 has more of a premium edge than before.
e two-tone effect from before, with a glass cutout up top and a back-mounted fingerprint sensor (the iPhone's is up front, of course). The cutout looks a bit sleeker now, and the Pixel 2 has more of a premium edge than before.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 8 has gone back to a full glass backing after years of aluminum, which not only allows for wireless charging but also gives the phone a nice design twist. Both phones offer water resistance now, and yes, both lack a headphone port. Remember when Google made fun of Apple for that? We do.
Neither of these phones is particularly eye-popping in design, but we dig the full-glass backing of the iPhone 8 more – plus the bezel on the Pixel 2 looks a bit fuller than on the iPhone.
Winner: Apple iPhone 8
Neither company made any significant strides with their latest smartphone screens. The iPhone 8 still has a 4.7in LCD screen at 750p resolution, while the Pixel 2 sticks with its 5in AMOLED screen at 1080p.
Slam dunk for Google, right? Yes, pretty much. The iPhone 8's screen falls under the resolution bar for even a mid-range smartphone today, let alone a flagship. It's bright, it's colourful, and the new True Tone feature helps provide more natural colour based on your ambient lighting. But you can clearly see that it's running at a lower resolution than most other top phones today.
The Pixel 2, meanwhile, is itself behind the curve when it comes to pricier Android flagships, sporting a 1080p screen instead of a Quad HD panel, but it's a pretty sharp screen with great contrast. And it's visibly better than the iPhone 8's screen, too.
Winner: Google Pixel 2
Camera: Pixel perfect
Last year's Pixel came out of nowhere with one of the world's best smartphone cameras, and now Google has done it again with the Pixel 2. Bucking the dual-camera trend, the Pixel 2 sticks with one main sensor on the back: a 12-megapixel, f/1.8 shooter with optical and electronic image stabilisation, and both phase detection and laser autofocus.
Like the Galaxy S8, the Pixel 2 takes multiple shots with each tap and then quickly stitches together the results for one seamless end photo, and Google's algorithm game is on point. You'll get fabulous shots through and through, with dazzling colours and clarity. It's even solid in low lighting. Truly, it's the best smartphone camera we've ever used.
The iPhone 8's camera is also pretty strong, keeping a 12MP f/1.8 back camera and finally adding optical image stabilisation, as well as a larger, faster sensor. Our shots mostly impressed, and while the iPhone 8 Plus has more tricks, the standard model is pure point-and-shoot.
It's not a night-and-day difference between them, but you'll get mostly great results from the iPhone 8 and occasionally phenomenal ones from the Pixel 2. It has a solid, noticeable edge.
Winner: Google Pixel 2