Google calls the Pixel 2 XL a smarter smartphone, but that covers most phones these days—consumers won’t even consider a new phone if it doesn’t offer a better camera, display, and processor. But new input methods, like Apple’s Force Touch and, now, Google’s Active Edge, feel way more futuristic than simply adding pixels to a screen or camera sensor. Google’s squeeze factor feels new—so we had to find out how it worked.
After subjecting the Pixel to X-rays, heat, spudgers, and a screwdriver, we had the squeezy sensors in hand. Turns out the input method is similar to the MacBook’s Force Touch trackpad, but cooler. Each set of sensors is made up of a dual-layered strip of deformation-sensitive strain gauges straddling a row of little metal blocks, like a little chain of sausage links.
As you squeeze, the outer strain gauges compress and the interior ones lengthen. By measuring the deformation across all four portions of this system, the Pixel gets a high-resolution picture of your squeeze—even through the case. It may sound gimmicky, but this is exactly the kind of feature Apple will “invent” in a couple of years. You won’t need to waterproof buttons if the case is the button.
Pixel 2 XL Teardown Highlights: