Is the Google Pixel 2 a good replacement for Windows users?

Google makes Android, and while it's the likes of Samsung that usually take the spotlight, the Pixel 2 is 2017's showcase for Android as a platform. While some other phone makers have a tendency to layer on their own custom user experiences, the Pixel is Android as Google intended.

So, you're getting the latest software mixed with the latest phone hardware. But if you're inside the Microsoft ecosystem, perhaps looking for a place to go now that Windows 10 Mobile is out to pasture, would the Pixel 2 be a good fit?

Latest software, no fluff

Pixel 2

Aside from some custom apps and maybe a little sponsored pre-loading, Windows mobile users have been accustomed to getting a consistent user experience across whichever brand of phone they may have been using at the time. Carriers sometimes got in the way, but Microsoft did a pretty good job at keeping things in line and pushing out updates.

Even now, folks who are sticking with the platform can get updates first through the Insider's Program.

If you're the kind of mobile user who puts great importance on having the latest software and timely updates, the Pixel is probably the best Android phone to get. Google handles it directly, and it'll launch on the latest version of Android 8.0 Oreo. And you'll be good for at least a couple of years.

Great hardware

Pixel 2

The open secret is that HTC makes the Pixel phone hardware for Google. And that means high quality. The company may have struggled in recent years with selling phones under its own brand, but the quality of the hardware made by the Taiwanese manufacturer has never been in doubt.

The Pixel 2 doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it's a harmony of metal and glass in two sizes. You'll either get a smaller phone with chunky bezels or a larger phone with skinny ones, but the quality will be the same whichever you choose.

And naturally, it ticks all the hardware boxes: Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, USB-C, fast charging, up to 128GB of storage and more.

More: Google Pixel 2 specs and the magic inside

A quality camera

Pixel 2

The Google Pixel had an excellent camera in 2016. The Google Pixel 2 in 2017 also has an excellent camera. Take or leave the "class-leading" results on DxOMark, but if you've used Lumia phones before then a good camera is probably high on your shopping list.

Spec-wise the rear shooter is 12.2MP f/1.8 with 1.4μm pixels. Those are still numbers, though, albeit pretty good ones. Early signs are promising as our buddies at Android Central found out with an early unit and putting it up against the iPhone 8.

Pixel 2 vs. iPhone 8 camera: A real-world test

All Microsoft's apps and services

Mircrosoft Launcher

Mircrosoft Launcher (Image credit: Daniel-Rubino/Windows Central)

Microsoft's new approach to mobile involves servicing its customers whatever device they choose to put in their pocket. That means if you're a Windows mobile convert or just a heavy Windows desktop user, you'll be well taken care of.

Microsoft has a ton of apps on Android. From staples like Skype, OneNote, the Office suite and Outlook, to newer additions like the Microsoft Launcher and, coming soon, Microsoft Edge.

Windows 10's Phone Companion app has helped ease folks using Android phones into working with their PC, but it's going so much further. Cortana can help mirror notifications to your desktop, and with Edge on Android coming soon along with the continue on PC feature, you'll be able to go seamlessly between your mobile device and your Windows computer.

Best Microsoft apps for Android

The bottom line

Pixel 2

The Pixel 2 embodies much of what Windows mobile fans have come to enjoy over the years. You get great hardware with a no-fluff software experience, an excellent camera, and timely updates.

Microsoft is doing its part, too, making it easier than ever to seamlessly go between an Android phone and a Windows PC, all the while improving its mobile applications for Google's platform. If you're thinking of moving over to an Android phone, this is one you should definitely consider.

More: Pixel 2 hands-on at Android Central

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

  • I certainly have pre-ordered mine!
  • No headphone jack
  • Nor external storage.
  • Too expensive
  • India too....
  • Yep. Deal breaker for me. I got the Galaxy S8 at release (after finally giving up on W10) but was seriously about to get the Pixel 2 because I despise Samsung's bloat. No microSD killed it.
  • I think this is a very important point that should be mentioned as every Windows phone has had one, if I'm not mistaken. The original Pixel has one though.
  • That's what's killing it for me. No headphone jack and no microsd. 
  • Because the fruit company started it, everyone else thinks it's okay to follow.
  • Except that the fruit company didn't start it.  They just made it "popular" (?).  Motorola (Android) phones were first to drop the headphone jack.
  • Same here. No headphone jack, no microSD. And without a headphone jack that most likely mean no FM radio as headphone cable is usually used as antenna for FM. I would love Pixel (and Nexus before) because of pure,Android, but without SD slot it's a no go.
  • Why? Has good storage. Don't use an SD card with my X3 and it's limited to 64GB.
  • Why? Clearly some people need mass storage. I for one enjoy not having to stream with my 100GB music already on board. I also like having my 10GB photo collection and my 20+GB personal video collection on hand. Then there's about 6GB of maps I have downloaded, and about 50GB of games and apps.
  • No wireless charging.
  • It's almost like we are stepping backwards. Lol
  • This is why this phone is a no go for me.
  • No headphone jack? Seriously? SH#$%! I've been looking at the Pixel, because having Android, then another layer, and then a Microsoft layer, in any language is not a good scenario. I haven't studied the Pixel 2 and didn't know that. Hmmmm  well back to the books on that one.
  • No IP68, only IP67 which means is only going to protect you against splashes, you cannot use your phone to take photos underwater. And also agreed with comments above: No head phone jack no sale No microSD Card no sale
  • Samsung is keeping headphone jacks in their phones. Just an fyi after reading about the Note 8. Apparently Apple and Google claim they removed the port for better dust and water protection but the Note 8 with the port has a better protection level then both the iPhone and Pixel. I smell smoke and a**hole.
  • This review should mention the lack of a headphone jack and lack of external storage. Lack of wireless charging might also be useful information. The fact that it IS water resistant should also be mentioned.
  • I haven't used wired headphones with my mobile for years, maybe people should get with the times? I didn't care when Apple did it, I don't care that Google is doing it, and I also wouldn't care if Microsoft decided to ditch the thing. No wireless charging is a bit of a bummer, but then again, I haven't actually used one of my wireless chargers in months, I should actualy set one up on my work desk now that I think about it.
  • "I haven't used wired headphones with my mobile for years, maybe people should get with the times?"   People don't have to stand for shittty sounding music just because a bunch of nerds in Cupertino wanted to remove an universal port so that they could charge fees for any jack-to-lightning port dongle sold. Or because some other idiots in Mountain View wanted to copy the iPhone. ;)
  • Hahaha I only use BT headphones, but that's funny... and true.
  • Buy decent BT headphones? Also I can pretty much guarantee that 99% of the people complaining about this are streaming their music  and not running headphone amps either, so I really don't think that "audio quality" is the main gripe here.    
  • Yes I stream my music, but my desktop and laptop already use adapters (the headset uses 4-pin 3.5mm to support mobile). The laptop uses USB to 2 3-pin 3.5mm jacks then 2x3.5mm-1x4-pin 3.5mm jack. Yes, two adapters just to use my headset on my laptop. If it starts getting to this level on mobile... I don't wanna have to use adapters, I already have issues keeping my headphones connected to my phone without an adapter. With an adapter I'll be surprised if I can keep them connected for more than two minutes.
  • Obviously, for some, it is.
  • Even Nokia 8 offers stock Android with an excellent support, camera and build quality.
  • All moto devices offer almost stock android experiences. They are not very popular in North America but are very good devices on the price points they are offered. Infact, in my 4 months with android I have also understood that with likes of Nova Launcher and stuff you can get stock(ish) experience on any android device. 
  • Nokia 6 is having old specs in terms of h/w and processor is heating up very fast.
  • The Nokia 6 camera is poor. The Nokia 8 screen size too small for me. Hanging onto my Pixel XL for now.
  • That's what I said about Nokia 6. Maybe Nokia 8 will compete with latest android phones.
  • The camera on the Nokia 8 is absolute crap. Yes. I just wrote that.
  • While it's not crap, it's definitely nowhere near as good as it should be, and that makes me sad. I'm actually holding out for a potential 6 inch (ish) Nokia 9, hopefully with some camera improvements too. If not, then the Pixel 2 XL.
  • Nope, I'm be investing in a LG V30
  • Pretty solid phone man. Someone did a comparison of V30 with Red Weapon on youtube. 🤣
  • You ok with the OLED screen bruhaha?
  • Yep
  • Which is pretty much the good version of the iPixel 2 XL. Good choice ;)
  • Oneplus 5 the best android experience for windows users. Great price, beast specs and dark theme. About the camera we can still use lumias 950s.
  • For me carrying two phones is not an option.  Either I moved on or not at all.
  • I have thought of this. I will use my Lumia 950 as music player (with songs in my sd through groove and Spotify). Also, i will use it as camera device when i trip and for continuum. Maybe, also, to play games for Xbox achievements. You don't really need to carry it all the time. OnePlus has a good camera. But Lumia has still one of the best cameras in the market and It's fool to ditch it when you have paid for it and it's in a good shape.
  • Samsung S8 or Note 8 might be the best options if you're looking for a good camera.
  • Yep. Nokia 6 is also great if you're on a budget too. I have one and it's working well with MFST launcher installed. Headphone jack, external storage included.
  • Everything that it has cool in it is completely overshadowed by the lack of a headphone jack. I won't buy expensive low quality Bluetooth headphones and I don't need the hassle of keeping another device with appalling battery life charged. I want the liberty to use a pair of hifi Sennheiser headphones without buying and carrying an adapter. So no it isn't anywhere near of replacing my Lumia 950XL. I would have really considered it if it had the headphone jack. Will just have to wait for other more sane manufacturers to come up with new Android 8 phones so I can look for a replacement.
  • This is understandable. Apparently, all adapters are not even created equal.
  •  you can get phenomenal sounding BT headphones for 150-200 bucks.  sound quality hasn't been an issue for a long time with BT.
  • Thanks and great info. What about the first Pixel? I'm not too familiar so just curious how that would be attempting to "Microsoft" it.
  • The same goes for the original Pixel. It still has another major software update next year and 2 more years of security updates. For some reason, Google decided to change the 2 year update promise to 3, just for the Pixel 2.
  • Guess it's time for windows central to merge with android central.
  • I was just thinking the same thing.  I see as much garbage about Android as I do Windows these days.
  • Microsoft is investing in Android. Maybe you should pick a bone with Nutella?
  • I don't understand this comment. Considering that Microsoft has announced that their own platform will only get security patches and bug fixes, wouldn't that be a great time to share this information?
  • Nope!
  • Yep
  • I thought they have slowing been doing that.  I have been seeing more random Android stuff showing up on here over the last couple months.
  • Is Cortana available on these? and can it be the default AI?  
  • Yes Cortana is an app that can be installed and set up as the default.
  • Yes and no. You can't make it default.
  • Exactly, native OS AI can't be change in any way.
  • That is one of the several drawbacks to moving from W10M.
  • You can change the default assistant app inside settings.