Announced recently by Google, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are two of the best smartphones money can buy right now. Not only do they offer the latest hardware from top-tier vendors, the bloat-free Android Oreo and the promise of three years of quick updates are two of the notable features that make these devices stand out from their counterparts for all the right reasons. However, as is the case with any other smartphone, the devices are far from perfect.
Neither of them come with the 3.5mm headphone jack, nor do they support wireless charging at a time when even Apple has introduced the feature in its latest iPhone lineup after resisting it for so many years. Another popular feature missing from the Pixel 2 is a dual-camera setup, something that’s starting to become increasingly prevent even in mid-rangers these days.
Even if you can look past all these issues, one point that many would-be buyers seem to be complaining against is the rather plain-vanilla looks of the Pixel 2. While the Pixel 2 XL has adopted the bezel-less trend, the smaller device seemingly didn’t get the memo. So if the giant bezels, the lack of wireless charging, the absence of OIS and the missing 3.5mm AUX port are all deal-breakers for you, here are the 7 best Pixel 2 alternatives you should consider:
Top Pixel 2 Alternatives You Can Consider
1. Samsung Galaxy S8
Samsung’s Galaxy ‘S’ line represents the most well-known and best-selling Android smartphone range in the world, and the Galaxy S8 is no exception. It is a well-reviewed, highly-popular smartphone that comes with not just cutting-edge hardware, but also some really cool software features that make it one of the most desirable smartphones right now. It’s powered by Samsung’s own in-house Exynos 8895 or Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 (depending on the market) and offers 4GB of RAM alongside 64GB of built-in storage. Unlike the Pixel 2, it also offers expandable storage, thanks to the presence of a microSD card slot that doubles up as a secondary SIM slot, although, that feature is also region-specific.
Sure, the Galaxy S8 also gives the rear dual-cam setup a miss just like the Pixel 2, opting instead to go with a single 12MP sensor with an f/1.7 aperture and 26mm effective focal length, but it is one of the best smartphone cameras for low-light photography you can buy right now. The Galaxy S8 was also the first device that brought the whole ‘bezel-less’ trend mainstream with its ‘Infinity Display’ thanks to the vibrant 5.8″ Super AMOLED screen with an elongated 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Add to that innovative features like the DeX dock, iris scanning, Bixby voice-assistant, the virtual Home button with haptic feedback, not to mention the 3.5mm audio port, and you’ll know exactly why the Galaxy S8 is one of the best Pixel 2 alternatives you can buy right now.
Buy From Amazon: ($624.99)
2. Apple iPhone 8
iPhones may be anathema to many Android aficionados, but we’re platform-agnostic here at Beebom, and while I’m a hardcore Android-guy myself, enough of my colleagues swear by their MacBooks and iPhones for me not to include at least one Apple device in this list. The iPhone 8 represents the latest from the Cupertino giant, and while it isn’t necessarily the greatest that the company has to offer, it is still a pretty decent handset in its own right. What’s even more remarkable is how strikingly similar it is to the Google Pixel 2 in so many different ways. Both offer cutting-edge hardware and the latest software, but you won’t know that by looking at them. Neither device look much different from their respective predecessors, which makes their designs seem pretty bland in the 2017 scheme of things.
Another reason why the iPhone 8 is a great alternative to the Pixel 2 is because of its size. At just 5″, the display panel on the Pixel 2 is positively tiny compared to most 2017 flagships. The iPhone 8, meanwhile, has an even smaller 4.7″ display, which means if you’re not quite enamored with the trend of the ever-growing smartphone display real estate, smaller devices like the iPhone 8 will be the perfect Pixel 2 alternative for you, if you can live with all the arbitrary restrictions Apple imposes on its users. One thing to note here is that, like the Pixel 2 and unlike the Galaxy S8, the iPhone 8 doesn’t have the 3.5mm audio port, but nor does many of the other flagship smartphones this year, so that’s a problem most users will likely have to start getting used to in the years to come.
Buy From Amazon: ($699)
3. LG G6
The LG G6 is a great smartphone that was launched earlier this year by the South Korean consumer electronics company that is often overshadowed by its larger and more well-known compatriot, Samsung. The device, admittedly, doesn’t have the same cutting-edge hardware that the Pixel 2 brings to the table, but it still performs every task admirably, which is understandable when you consider that the chip powering the device, the Snapdragon 821, is actually newer and faster than Snapdragon 820 that powered most of the top flagships from last year, including the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Another noteworthy feature in the LG G6 is its dual 13MP camera setup at the back. While the primary sensor comes with an f/1.8 lens, PDAF and 3-axis OIS, the secondary one features a wide-angle 125-degree fixed-focus lens with an f/2.4 aperture.
Keeping with the ‘bezel-less’ trend, the LG G6 features a 5.7-inch IPS LCD QHD+ display panel with a 2:1 (18:9) aspect ratio. The phone packs 4GB of DDR4 RAM and either 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of native storage, but unlike the Pixel 2, it has a microSD slot that allows its storage to be expanded by up to 2TB. The phone is also dust-proof and water-proof, as is evident from its IP68 certification. What’s really cool is that in spite of being a premium device, the G6 is actually significantly cheaper than most of the other options on this list, so buying this is unlikely to burn a hole in your pocket.
Buy From Amazon: ($509)
4. OnePlus 5
Yet another great alternative to the Pixel 2 is the OnePlus 5 that comes with similar hardware as the latest Google smartphones, and also rocks a traditional look with a 16:9 panel instead of the elongated displays that most top-flight devices are shipping with these days. Another similarity between the two devices is their software. While the Pixel 2 ships with pure Android, the Hydrogen OS that ships with OnePlus smartphones also retains much of the look and feel of AOSP even though it adds a few innovative features. Like the Pixel 2, the OnePlus 5 is also powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, but unlike Google’s latest, it offers 6-8GB of RAM, which is 2-4GB more than what Google is offering in its substantially-more-expensive smartphone.
The OnePlus 5 also ships with a dual-camera setup (16MP +20MP) on the back, which is yet another deviation from the Pixel 2. While the 16MP sensor has a 1.12µm pixel size and is paired with an f/1.7 lens, the 20MP sensor has a 1.0µm pixel size and has an f/2.6 lens for company. Overall, the OnePlus 5 is pretty similar to the Pixel 2 in many respects: not the most distinctive in terms of design, but packs a definite punch in terms of hardware. OnePlus also has a highly-involved developer community just like the Pixel line, and the OnePlus 5 is also significantly less expensive than the Pixel 2, all of which makes it an easy recommendation as a Pixel 2 alternative.
Buy From Amazon: ($504.10)
5. Nokia 8
The Nokia 8 is the most premium smartphone to have been launched under the Nokia brand since it’s return to the smartphone scene earlier this year. Sure, the device is neither designed, developed nor manufactured by the Finnish telecom giant, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t steeped in the great Nokia traditions, seeing as HMD Global, the company that’s marketing these devices under license from Nokia, actually comprises of former executives of the Finnish company for the most part. The Nokia 8 is an excellent Pixel 2 alternative because the two devices have quite a few similarities with one another. First off, both feature smaller-than-usual 16:9 display panels, with the WQHD 5.3″ panel on the Nokia 8 comparing favorably with the 1080p 5.0″ panel on the Pixel 2. Both are powered by the Snapdragon 835 and come in similar storage configurations, although, the Nokia actually offers 6GB RAM in the higher-end version instead of the 4GB found on both versions of the HTC-manufactured Google device.
It’s not just the hardware on the Nokia 8 and the Google Pixel 2 that are similar, but even the software in the two devices are along similar lines. Nokia’s Android UI stays true to AOSP aesthetics for the most part, and HMD has already promised ‘Android P’ for all its first-gen Android smartphones. Also, with the kind of enthusiasm Nokia’s first-gen Android offerings have evoked, it’s very likely that they will continue to remain the favorites of a dedicated band of Nokia enthusiasts, which means there will always be third-party development for these devices, making the Nokia 8 a perfect alternative to the Google Pixel 2.
Buy From Amazon: ($617.99)
6. Mi Mix 2
Xiaomi’s second-generation bezel-less smartphone, the Mi Mix 2, is a great device that has rectified some of the issues that its predecessor suffered from. It comes with a smaller, 5.99″ 18:9 display, making it significantly more ergonomic than the first-gen device, and it also gets rid of the piezoelectric earpiece that didn’t always lend itself to great voice-quality. As for its hardware specs, the Mi Mix 2 is powered by the same Snapdragon 835 chip that can be found under the hood of the Pixel 2, but it comes with 6GB or 8GB of RAM instead of the 4GB offered by the Google device. Like the Pixel 2, however, you also won’t get a dual-camera setup at the back of the Mi Mix 2, where a solitary 12MP sensor does the job, accompanied by PDAF and 4-axis OIS.
While the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 packs similar hardware to that of the Pixel 2, the two devices are radically different in terms of their design aesthetic. While the former really pioneered the whole bezel-less trend in the right earnest, the latter is still rocking a distinctly older design with giant bezels and a 16:9 screen that makes it look not-that-different from most 2016 flagships. As we observed in our Mi Mix 2 review, the device is a “worthy upgrade to its predecessor”, and even though it has its own quirks, it is still “one of the best devices you can buy in its price range”.
7. Essential PH-1
The man credited with being the brains behind Android is now back with a smartphone running the software he helped create over a decade ago. Andy Rubin’s much talked-about Essential Phone is now a reality, and it comes with many a cool feature that are both novel as well as thoughtful. Sure, it’s a world away from the Google Pixel 2 in terms of how it looks, but like Google’s latest offerings, it also comes with top-flight hardware, and is one of the best smartphones in the market right now, especially for advanced users. The Essential PH1 is built out of titanium and ceramic and, has an edge-to-edge LTPS IPS LCD display that measures 5.71″ diagonally and, has an unusual 19:10 aspect ratio. It’s powered by the Snapdragon 835, and comes with 4GB of RAM + 128GB of storage. Unlike the Pixel 2, however, the Essential phone features a dual-camera setup on the back, with twin 13MP shooters doing the imaging duty. However, the device runs pure Android without any modifications, which means the UI on the two devices will be almost identical.
While the hardware on the Essential Phone is plenty good, what really separates this device from the herd of premium Android smartphones is its modularity. The phone is designed in a way that will allow users to add third-party modules, somewhat like the now-defunct Project Ara. The device has an unlocked bootloader, which allows users to flash custom ROMs, kernels, recoveries etc. more easily. All said and done, the Essential Phone sounds like a really interesting option for advanced users, and as long as Essential releases all the Apache-licensed kernel sources and the binary blobs for its proprietary components, this could be the very best Pixel 2 alternative you can buy this year.
Buy From Amazon: ($699)
Bonus: Google Pixel
The first-generation Google Pixel may not be available for purchase in the Google Store anymore, but it is still up for grabs on a number of third-party websites, such as Amazon, where you can buy it at a significant discount these days. While the Pixel 2 offers some definite under-the-hood improvements over its immediate predecessor, its debatable whether those changes demand such a steep increase in the price-tag. Sure, the Pixel 2’s Snapdragon 835 is a great chip to have in your smartphone, but the Snapdragon 821 on the original Pixel is no slouch by any means. The 32GB version is a bit restrictive in terms of storage, but you can buy the 128GB anyways if you need to store lots of media.
Overall, the two devices look and feel fairly similar, and if you’re not obsessed with buying the latest and the greatest, you’ll find that last year’s model actually also offers a few extras, such as a 3.5mm AUX port, as well as dual front-firing speakers. The steep discount on the 2016 Pixel is just the icing on the cake that makes it a viable alternative to its successor, the Pixel 2.
Buy From Amazon: ($549)
The Best Pixel 2 Alternatives You Can Buy
The Pixel 2 is a great smartphone overall, but it does have its own shortcomings, as listed earlier. So if any one of those is an absolute deal-breaker for you, the list above hopefully gives you enough alternatives that you can buy instead. While no smartphone will ever offer you everything you want, some will require less compromise than others, which is what differentiates a successful device from an also-ran. So, have you decided what smartphone you’re buying next? Is it an Android or an iPhone? And if it is an Android, will it be either of the Pixel 2 twins or something else? Do let us know about your thoughts on the subject, because we love hearing from you.