To counter the lower cost of the superior Samsung Galaxy S9+, Google has dropped the price of its Pixel 2 XL by $200. The smaller Pixel 2 is also getting a price cut, of $100.
This is a big deal. And it could completely reset your decision-making process when it comes to the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. It’s worth noting, too, that this and some unrelated development are making me reconsider my decision not to review the Pixel 2 XL.
That the Samsung flagships are superior to the Pixel 2s is almost beyond debate. With only one major exception—the camera, and that’s a close call—the Galaxy S9/S9+ outclasses Google’s offerings in every meaningful way. (The Pixels do win some points on a few minor concessions as well. For example, Google Assistant is much easier to use on non-Samsung devices.)
But whatever. The pricing speaks for itself.
Samsung offers only one 64 GB configuration for each of its flagships, so the only real decision you need to make is the color. The Galaxy S9 costs $720 and the bigger Galaxy S9+ costs $840.
But as I opined last September, Google’s Pixel 2 pricing is untenable. A base Pixel 2 with 32 GB cost $650, but the upgrade to 128 GB puts you back $750. A base Pixel 2 XL with 64 GB of storage, meanwhile, costs $850. The 128 GB version that I bought costs $950.
Those prices are too expensive. As I wrote last year, this pricing artificially limits the success of these handsets, because no one in their right mind would spend that much money on an unproven hardware maker when Samsung sells superior phones for hundreds less. Sure enough, Google only sells a tiny fraction of the phones sold by the industry leaders. They’re not even competing.
My advice to Google last year was simple: It needed to reduce the price of its Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL by hundreds of dollars. It cannot compete with Apple and Samsung at the same price. It needs to offer an incentive for customers to even consider its devices.
Well, now it is.
As was first noticed by Forbes, Google has quietly lowered the price of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL to roughly match Samsung’s prices. The 32 GB Pixel 2 now costs $550, and the 64 GB Pixel 2 XL now costs $650.
How this works varies by phone, I think. It looks like the Pixel 2, which now sold out, naturally, is just less expensive than it used to be. But if you configured a base Pixel 2 XL, you’ll see that the price is still $850: The $200 in savings comes via a cash-back offer when you use Google’s financing program. Which you should: It offers 0 percent interest and you can pay it off early with no penalty, which is what I did. (Or you can just take two years to pay it off normally at 0 percent interest.)
The $200 cash-back offer apparently ends next week, on March 31. This pricing, however, should be the norm. This is the right price point for each of these handsets.
On that note, I may formally reevaluate the Pixel 2 XL, which I’ve been using as my primary smartphone since it arrived late last fall. I’ve had my issues with it, including endemic audio problems related to the USB-C port and dongle and, of course, the terrible display, which is unviewable in the sun. But since I reset it for the Android P Developer Preview, the performance has improved dramatically, and of course, it does have the best camera of any handset. At these prices, the Pixel 2 XL could actually make some sense.
I’ll keep mulling this one over. But if you’re going to bite, move quickly and take advantage of that $200 cash-back offer and 0 percent interest. That’s a good deal.