Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Pixel 2 XL Has a Really Crappy Display

By all means, Google’s new line of Pixel 2 smartphones sound very impressive. They’re almost surely the best Android phones on the market. But the display in the Pixel 2 XL is clearly terrible. Vlad Savov, the Verge:

Look at that New York Times icon in the image above. Stop flinching and really look at it, soak in the kaleidoscope of colors washing over it. Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, I’m seeing a haze of green in the middle of the gothic “T”, which then blooms into a red that eventually transitions into the white that the icon is supposed to be. But the fun isn’t over; when you get up real close, you’ll see the edges of the icon are all fringed by a sort of purply-red and, again, green. The neighboring heart icon, which is also supposed to be white, presents us with a crosshatch of red and green and white micropixels.

Does that look like 2017 to you?

In their review of the Pixel 2, Ars Technica posted a comparison of the same image shown on the regular Pixel 2’s Samsung-made display and the Pixel 2 XL’s LG-made display, and it’s plainly obvious that the XL’s display is horrible.

That makes this part of Savov’s article a little more than curious:

The Verge’s Creative Director James Bareham sides with Google on this, describing the Pixel 2 XL as the phone screen tuned most closely to professional displays: “it presents natural colors in terms of photos, but is a little dark,” he says. But here’s the real problem: James uses truly pro equipment that nobody is trying to sell to consumers; what he thinks of as accurate, what might technically be accurate, is not what the majority of us see on most of the devices we use.

I don’t buy that for a second. DisplayMate hasn’t published results for the Pixel 2 yet or the iPhone 8, but they said last year that the iPhone 7 was the most accurate phone display they had ever tested; this year, when set to the DCI-P3 colour gamut, they gave the Samsung Galaxy S8 a very high grade as well. Neither of those displays produce anything like the colour variation shown by the Pixel 2 XL. I sincerely doubt that a test would show that its display is better-calibrated than displays that don’t look wonky and are measurably very accurate.