Google’s Pixel 2 and 2 XL take on iPhone X

Mario Queiroz, Vice President of Product Management at Google, speaks about the Pixel 2 phone during a launch event in San Francisco, October 4, 2017.

Stephen Lam / REUTERS

Google has just launched the Pixel 2 and 2 XL phones, the tech giant's answer to Apple's iPhone 8 and iPhone X, Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8, and LG's G6 and V30. The company revealed its latest items at a launch event in San Francisco Wednesday.

It's a crucial time for Google, whose second-generation handsets are about to square off against phonemakers' best and brightest in a bloody scrimmage for consumers' holiday bucks.

For Google, the Pixel 2 phones are a chance to appeal to Android purists when other Android handsets layer on their own software tricks, often at the expense of timely updates. Also at stake is acknowledgement of Google's rightful place fully designing and branding hardware, not just the extensive network of software that props up each Pixel 2 -- and the entire Android-using world -- from the operating system to Google Maps to Gmail.

CNET reports the Pixel 2 will be water-resistant and have squeezable edges and a vastly improved camera with a portrait mode and image stabilization. The Pixel 2 XL will have a larger screen than its predecessor, at 6 inches across the diagonal. 

Finally, the Pixel 2 and 2 XL anchor Google's decision to essentially buy HTC's in-house designers for the Big G's hardware team. HTC is Google's all-but-confirmed design partner in these two new devices; Google's cash infusion is helping keep the company afloat to design another day.

This article originally appeared on CNET.