Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL prove that Apple was right to ditch the 3.5mm audio jack

Google Pixel and Pixel XL are available in Kenya, but good luck finding one. The story won’t be different for the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, the successors to the 2016 models that were unveiled mid last week.

Following months of rumors and speculations, the phones were finally presented to the world – or the U.S. – on October 4th, with the official availability set to kick off on October 19th, at least for the smaller Pixel 2. The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will definitely not be unveiled officially in Kenya, but you won’t miss out on either phone via third-party sellers once they start selling globally.

The official release of the phones will be staggered, where initial rollout will take place in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia, and India, followed by Spain, Singapore, and Italy, among others, at a later time. Knowing the Kenyan smartphone market, it won’t be long before the Pixel 2 pair starts selling locally, but before you make the big decision, here is a look at what these two phones have to offer.

The smaller Pixel 2 ships with a 5-inch full HD display screen with a familiar 16:9 aspect ratio while the Pixel 2 XL gets a noticeably new design with smaller bezels, but not the smallest we’ve seen this year. The phone has a massive 6-inch QHD+ display screen with the new 18:9 aspect ratio, matching what we’ve already seen on several Android flagship smartphones released this year. It’s nothing unusual that the battery capacity a phone can carry is determined by the display size. And this is the case for the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, where the former has a 2700mAh unit while the latter rocks an impressive 3520mAh unit.

Like the HTC U11, the two Pixel 2 phones have an Active Edge that responds to squeezes by launching the Google Assistant. You also get IP67 certification, which means the phones are dust and water resistant, up from last year’s IP53 certification, but still a notch below the IP68 certification we’ve seen on Samsung and LG phones.

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Design and size matters aside, the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have the same hardware specs and features. There’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC paired with 4GB RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of non-expandable storage. The main shooter has a 12.2MP camera that has already been rated the best by industry experts DxOMark, managing to outshine the likes of Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (94) and iPhone 8 Plus (94) with a score of 98.

Perhaps this is helped by the fact that Google is for the first time having OIS on its smartphone camera and somehow managed to squeeze Portrait Mode into a single-lens camera, a feature that is common with dual-lens setups. The front gets an 8MP shooter for selfies and like the 2016 models, you still get unlimited cloud storage with Google Photos. The pair has dual stereo speakers, a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, a USB-C port and no 3.5mm audio jack, which is perhaps the boldest change Google had to make.

Ever since Apple ditched the 3.5mm audio jack back in 2016 with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, a lot of criticism and jibes have been directed Cupertino’s way, but the company remained unmoved and subsequently unveiled the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X without a 3.5mm audio jack. Some Android OEMs such as Lenovo’s Motorola, LeEco, HTC, and Xiaomi have also followed suit and in doing so, they have had to deal with a lot of criticism from the massive Android fraternity, including me, still in love with the 3.5mm audio jack. However, now that the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have joined the party by ditching the traditional analog jack in favor of a new, digital USB Type-C port, it surely means that Apple was not wrong to ditch the popular feature.

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Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL

According to Google, the reason for ditching the 3.5mm audio jack is so that the display screen can be pushed closer and closer to the edge, but this sounds lame considering what we’ve already seen on the Galaxy S8, Galaxy Note 8, LG G6 and LG V30, all of which have near bezel-less designs yet they still rock the 3.5mm audio jack.

Google has spent years on the Nexus program showing the Android family how its software is supposed to run on phones and tablets. Now that quite a good number of them have grasped the concept, the company has shifted its attention to the hardware side. With the Pixel program, coupled with the recent acquisition of the Pixel team from HTC, the search giant is without a doubt ready to share some hardware lessons with the ever-growing Android family – and the first one is to ditch the analog audio jack in favor of a digital connector for better audio quality.

The Google Pixel 2 is priced at $649 (about Ksh 67,000) for the base model of 64GB and $749 (about Ksh 77,400) for the 128GB variant. As for the Pixel 2 XL, the base model is priced at $849 (about Ksh 87,700) while the 128GB variant goes for $949 (about Ksh 98,000). The phones will be sold in Just Black, Kinda Blue and Clearly White color variants for the Pixel 2 and Just Black and Black & White color variants for the Pixel 2 XL.

Meanwhile, be ready to see many more OEMs ditching the 3.5mm audio jack in favor of a universal USB-C port. What are your thoughts?

Hillary Keverenge

Still working on my bio. Meanwhile, you can trust me, I'm a tech-savvy dude. Android is bae.