Review: Google Pixel 2 phone challenges iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy and the results are amazing

Google's Pixel 2 XL smartphone displays the name of "Fantasy," the Earth, Wind & Fire song it hears

It’s impossible to predict whether Google’s brand-new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones will fare better than last year’s well-reviewed but poor selling first-generation models. Among other reasons, the smartphone crowd loves their iPhones and Galaxys, and Apple and Samsung obviously remain formidable competitors.

What I can say is that the new phones prove how good Google has gotten at hardware,  bolstered by artificial intelligence and software. And if you’re in the market for a premium handset, Pixels belong in the conversation. For starters, the AI-infused Google Assistant that was a banner feature on the first Pixels is only getting smarter. And the already strong cameras are also getting better.

I’ve focused my testing on the Pixel 2 XL, the larger and, at $849 on up, more expensive of the two new Android Oreo-based Pixels. But those of you who prefer a smaller phone should certainly consider the more compact, though less stylish, Pixel 2, which costs $200 less to start. The phones are still cheaper than the four-digit busting price of the upcoming iPhone X.