A “pragmatic design and a promising camera” is the verdict on Google’s new Pixel 2 smartphone. Announced this month, the Pixel 2 has been lauded for moving away from the design norms of Apple and Samsung, with Google instead preferring functionality over form.

Whilst it’s still unquestionably smartphone-looking, the device doesn’t come with curved screens or other trendy flourishes, but instead the likes of front-facing speakers for better audio, and an aluminium finish for better grip.

That’s not to say the Pixel 2 is without its own quirks, of course. New functionality allows users to squeeze the sides of their devices to launch Google Assistant. This so-called Active Edge has been touted by Google not as a gimmick but instead something that could perform useful functions (such as quickly and easily silencing the phone when it’s ringing).

Google Lens camera attracts interest

The camera has also generated interest, for more than just its tech specifications. Pixel 2 will support Google Lens, making it able to identify objects in images. Though currently quite basic, the feature can analyse photographs and identify books, watches, landmarks, or (eventually) whatever else is contained within. It can also identify the book, and do the same with film posters. Looking ahead, Google plans to broaden the scope of Lens over the coming months and years, to not just identify more objects but drill down more effectively into the specifics of each (such as the make of watch).

Another interesting feature on the Pixel 2 is its ability to constantly identify music playing in the background. With this device, Google has broadened its ‘always-on’ microphone to listen out to more than just “OK Google”. Now it will identify music and show what it is in the background – perfect for identifying new or unheard songs without hesitation.

The Pixel 2 hits UK shelves on October 19, priced at £629 for the 64GB option, or £729 for 128GB. There’s also a larger Pixel 2 XL device coming on November 15, with a £799 price tag (again, for 64BG – the 128GB version costs £899). For the extra cash you get a curved 6-inch, 2,880 x 1,440 pOLED display, which makes it both larger and sharper than the regular model, plus a bezel-free design.