Home / Google / Pixel 4 and 4 XL review: Every Pixel has a silver lining (Update: Two weeks later)

Pixel 4 and 4 XL review: Every Pixel has a silver lining (Update: Two weeks later)

Article Contents

  • 1 Specs
  • 2 The Good
  • 3 The Not So Good
  • 4 Design, {hardware}, what’s within the field
  • 5 Software program and efficiency
  • 6 Cameras
  • 7 Must you purchase it?

    • 7.1 Purchase it if…
    • 7.2 Do not buy it if…
  • 8 The place to purchase

Google has been promoting smartphones for greater than a decade at this level, nevertheless it’s solely on the fourth technology of Pixel telephones. The Pixel period is when Google acquired critical about constructing a cohesive product that married {hardware} and software program slightly than only a car for the newest inventory model of Android. With the Pixel 4, it is clear that Google has discovered so much from the final three generations of Pixels, however I fear it hasn’t discovered all the correct classes.

The Pixel Four has an unbelievable, industry-leading digicam, and the software program expertise is considerate. Google additionally nailed 3D face unlock on its first attempt. On the similar time, Google would not present as a lot storage or battery capability as equally priced telephones. The shortcomings are one thing that I can forgive, however that will not be the case for everybody. After 4 generations, the Pixels nonetheless get a number of the fundamentals improper, and we ought to be holding Google to the next customary.


SoCSnapdragon 855
Storage64 or 128GB
Show90Hz OLED, 5.7-inch 1080p or 6.3-inch 1440p
Battery2800mAh or 3700mAh
Digital camera12MP major, 16MP 2x telephoto; 8MP entrance
Software programAndroid 10
Measurements147.1 x 68.Eight x 8.2 mm and 162g; 160.Four x 75.1 x 8.2mm and 193g (XL)

The Good

ShowThe 90Hz refresh fee seems unbelievable, and the OLEDs provide glorious colours, brightness, and blacks.
EfficiencyThe Pixel Four is the quickest, smoothest Android cellphone obtainable. The added RAM makes multitasking higher than the Pixel 3.
DesignThe matte glass and subtly textured edge appear and feel nice.
Digital cameraThe Pixel Four digicam expertise blows everybody else out of the water. Zoom photographs are principally magic.
Face unlockIt is quick, correct, and works from any angle.
HapticsThe Pixel Four has the tightest vibration motor on Android.
Software programThat is the most effective model of Android 10 you may get.

The Not So Good

Soli radarWhereas it is perhaps quiet down the road, Soli is little greater than a gimmick proper now.
Face unlock once moreWould not test to be sure to’re awake (for now), and it is the solely biometric choice on the cellphone.
Battery lifeThe smaller Pixel can barely final a day, and the bigger one is simply common. Competing telephones are noticeably higher.
Storage64GB of storage is simply too little in 2019.
BackupsNo free unique high quality Google Photographs backups.
Design once moreThe asymmetrical bezels could be a little annoying at first.
EquipmentYou do not get USB-C earbuds or a 3.5mm adapter within the field.

Design, {hardware}, what’s within the field

Google’s Pixel telephones have used a two-tone again design for the final three generations, however that is gone with the Pixel Four and Four XL. Now, there’s an unbroken glass panel on the again—shiny on the black mannequin and matte on the white and orange. The shiny black will get coated in fingerprints nearly instantly, however the matte glass seems and feels a lot better. The feel can be smoother and fewer liable to scuffing than the matte glass on the Pixel 3. The big, square-ish digicam module stands proud on the again, nevertheless it really seems slightly hanging in a minimalist means.

The aluminum rim on all three Pixel telephones is black and has a pleasant “eggshell” texture that is simply the correct amount of grippy. That is the primary glass cellphone I’ve used that is not begging to go in a case. The buttons are all on the correct edge, they usually really feel extra sturdy than the Pixel 3’s buttons. The ability button additionally has that trademark pop of shade we have seen on previous Pixels.

There have been complaints concerning the design of each Pixel cellphone—the bezels are too large, there is a notch, the end is not proper, or no matter else. This yr, some have rolled their eyes on the massive high bezel on the Pixel 4, however I’ve discovered it would not trouble me very a lot now that I am utilizing the cellphone. It is barely smaller than the highest bezel on the Pixel 3, however the backside bezel is sort of non-existent. Which means one speaker (the earpiece) is front-firing, and the opposite is going through down. I would want two front-facing audio system and a symmetrical backside bezel, however the sound high quality and stability of the Pixel Four audio system are improved from the last-gen.

The Pixel Four XL

One of many causes for that large high bezel is that Google wanted someplace to place all of the face unlock {hardware}. It is a make-or-break characteristic for the Pixel Four as a result of there isn’t any fingerprint sensor. I do miss having a fingerprint sensor, however I do not hate Google’s Face Match system. Actually, some folks will most likely want it to a fingerprint sensor. The IR face sensors get up earlier than you even contact the cellphone, and recognizing your face takes about so long as it takes for a fingerprint to register on the Pixel 3. That’s to say, it is loads quick. The cellphone’s field-of-view is best than I anticipated, too. You possibly can maintain the Pixel Four at a really pure angle whereas unlocking, and the vary is no less than an arm’s size (which is realistically all you want). It “simply works,” to borrow an outdated advertising and marketing time period. Sure, the cellphone unlocks even when your eyes are closed—that is one thing Google will tackle within the coming months. It is foolish we have to wait that lengthy, however I do not think about this a deal-breaker.

The Pixel Four has a 5.7-inch 1080p OLED, and the XL steps as much as a 6.3-inch 1440p panel. Each telephones assist a 90Hz refresh fee, which seems fabulous—anybody who has used a current OnePlus cellphone can attest that it is exhausting to return to a 60Hz display screen. Nonetheless, 90Hz is not enabled on a regular basis except you poke round in developer settings to pressure it on. These are glorious panels, too. The brightness is not as unbelievable as Samsung’s newest telephones, however the Pixel Four and Four XL are completely usable open air. In a darkish room, you additionally will not discover many crushed blacks. The Pixel Three and Pixel 2 XL had points there due to its middling LG OLED. This yr, each telephones carry out to the identical excessive degree. Nonetheless, I’m a little bit involved concerning the oleophobic coating, which is already exhibiting a little bit put on. I hope we’re not one other Pixel 2 XL scenario right here.

The Pixel 4’s packaging is surprisingly barebones—Google would not embrace a number of equipment that got here with the Pixel 3. All you get within the field is the cellphone, USB-C cable, charging brick, and a USB adapter for syncing different gadgets throughout setup. There are not any USB-C headphones or perhaps a 3.5mm adapter. Fairly lame, Google.

Software program and efficiency

Google’s telephones have at all times been concerning the software program, however the method to Pixels is vastly totally different than it was for Nexus gadgets. These telephones aren’t simply “inventory” Android; Google develops customized experiences to set the Pixels aside. The Pixel Four would not come pre-loaded with a bunch of junk software program, and most of Google’s modifications are helpful. For instance, there is a assortment of nice wallpapers with customization choices. You may as well change the system theme with out leaping via hoops. Normal Android 10 options like darkish mode and gesture navigation are on show as properly. It is merely the most effective model of Android you may get on a cellphone proper now.

This yr’s large Pixel unique is the Undertaking Soli radar scanning that powers “Movement Sense.” Opinions on this characteristic differ among the many AP crew, however I lean barely optimistic. Movement Sense is, sadly, very restricted in what it may do proper now. Nonetheless, what’s there appears useful. Movement Sense helps swipe gestures to alter tracks whereas listening to music. It really works when the cellphone is asleep or whilst you’re utilizing different apps, and generally it may really feel genuinely futuristic. Swipes additionally trigger Google’s “Come Alive” wallpapers to jiggle, which is enjoyable to play with. The Pixel Four additionally makes use of Soli to detect if you attain for the cellphone, permitting it to get up the face unlock sensors. Lastly, the cellphone can flip off ambient show if it would not see you close by for a little bit bit.

Attain out and contact the radar

Presently, Movement Sense is a gimmick that hardly justifies the flowery new radar sensor. Google says extra options will come to Movement Sense later, and that is the true check. If we do not get any new capabilities within the coming months, Movement Sense will probably be a flop. I would not blame anybody for disabling Movement Sense proper now as a result of, let’s face it, the performance may be very restricted and it will most likely prevent a little bit battery. Even with out Movement Sense, face unlock works simply wonderful as a result of the cellphone wakes up if you carry it.

I’ve principally nothing damaging to say concerning the Pixel 4’s efficiency. This cellphone is blisteringly quick, and the 90Hz show actually reveals off the animation smoothness. I’ve by no means discovered myself ready for the cellphone to do one thing, save for a handful of weird crashes or hangs that I would attribute to the pre-release software program. It stays responsive even throughout the deluge of notifications that come when disabling airplane mode after a flight. The step as much as 6GB of RAM appears to have solved the reminiscence points that plagued the Pixel 3, too. I can depend on apps to remain in reminiscence, even when I swap over to the digicam to snap some photographs.

Google has by no means prioritized battery capability in Pixel telephones—the Pixel Four and Four XL have small-ish 2800 and 3700mAh batteries, respectively. It most likely will not come as a shock that these telephones will get you thru the day however not way more. With the Four XL, I’ve no hassle getting 5 – 6 hours of display screen time over 20-22 hours off the charger with average to heavy use. I would think about that acceptable although not spectacular. The smaller cellphone is weaker, eking out barely 4 hours of display screen time in 14-16 hours of heavy use. You’ll get vary anxiousness with the small Pixel 4. Battery life is much like final yr’s telephones, however Google actually ought to have aimed to enhance this facet—its rivals are pushing considerably bigger batteries, and Google seems prefer it’s standing nonetheless by comparability. In the event you want a cellphone that lasts two days on a cost, the Pixels aren’t for you.


This yr’s Pixels have lastly added a second rear digicam, and it was well worth the wait. Google is not simply including a zoom module and calling it a day like most OEMs. Actually, there isn’t any strategy to merely flip between the primary 12MP digicam and the 16MP (handled as 12MP) 2x zoom sensor. Google needs you to compose your shot with out worrying about which digicam is capturing the picture as a result of the cellphone can sharpen photographs by stacking a number of exposures. The outcomes are terribly spectacular, even at as much as 8x zoom (see beneath). I do know Google careworn that is all simply physics throughout the announcement, however the Pixel 4’s digicam nonetheless feels magical.

8x zoom captured on Pixel 4

HDR+ processing is noticeably quicker this yr, and Google has pulled again on a number of the elements that might make Pixel photographs look a bit “overprocessed.” Pixel photographs nonetheless have unbelievable dynamic vary and shade accuracy, although. I’ve seen a couple of unhealthy photographs crop up with the pre-release software program, however nearly every thing I’ve taken on the Pixel Four comes out trying phenomenal. If I needed to name out a flaw, I suppose some photographs have overly vibrant shadows, however that is fixable. Google has added some extra fine-tuning within the digicam UI within the type of twin publicity sliders. By fidgeting with the sliders, you may management the highlights and shadows in your picture to get some cool creative results. You may even be capable of precisely gauge the ultimate product due to the brand new stay HDR+ viewfinder. This is not often an actual preview of what you get after processing, nevertheless it’s within the ballpark.

Evening Sight takes a couple of seconds to seize frames after which merges them collectively to make the ultimate picture. Evening Sight appears much more succesful this yr with jaw-dropping de-noising of low-light scenes. Maybe probably the most unique characteristic of the Pixel 4’s digicam is the brand new astrophotography mode, which prompts robotically if you swap to Evening Sight and level the gadget skyward. Astrophotography works in an identical strategy to Evening Sight, however it may take a number of minutes to get all of the required exposures (you may want a tripod). Sadly, we’ve not been capable of check this characteristic a lot due to a mix of poor climate and lightweight air pollution—we’ll attempt to get some samples quickly.

For as as Google is in offering a class-leading nonetheless picture expertise, it appears surprisingly disinterested in video recording. The Pixel Four shoots satisfactory video, nevertheless it’s lacking options like 4k60 and HDR that different flagship telephones have had for the previous few years.

Must you purchase it?

Google Pixel Four and Four XL


Perhaps, so long as efficiency, software program, and pictures are extra essential to you than lengthy battery life. Google’s aggressive optimization and the brand new 90Hz OLED make utilizing the Pixel Four an absolute delight. I even have come to fairly just like the {hardware} design. The sleek matte glass on the again and the textured steel body appear and feel nice, and the digicam module stands out in all the correct methods. The asymmetrical bezels are annoying if you first lay eyes on the cellphone, however they finally fade into the background and you will not care.

Perhaps you may disagree that the cellphone seems good or that the 90Hz show is well worth the battery affect, however nobody can dispute that the Pixel Four has a tremendous digicam. Google at all times provides a couple of new digicam tips annually, and this time the headlining options are superzoom and astrophotography. I am completely blown away by Google’s zoom photographs, which look surprisingly sharp even at 8x zoom. You possibly can even faux a macro shot from a few toes away out of your topic. It is so liberating to know you may simply compose your photographs the best way you need with out worrying concerning the zoom degree.

The Pixel 4

The Pixel Four is palms down one of the simplest ways to expertise Android 10, and that alone will make it interesting to some. I simply want I might get pleasure from utilizing it for a bit longer. Google’s refusal to cram in bigger batteries is beginning to put on skinny. Whereas the Four XL has adequate battery life, the smaller cellphone is a bit beneath common. Spending nearly a thousand {dollars} on a cellphone that hardly makes it via a day just isn’t superior, and Google wants to know that if it needs to promote extra gadgets.

The Pixel Four just isn’t a foul cellphone, nevertheless it ought to be higher than it’s. In the event you’re planning to choose up a Pixel, I would say get the Four XL in both white or orange. It will final via the day extra simply, and the matte glass is superior to the fingerprint-y mess you’d get with the shiny black cellphone. As for whether or not or not you must order it now, that is a tricky name. You would possibly need to wait a couple of weeks and see what kind of offers Google runs this vacation season.

Purchase it if…

You care about having the newest, biggest Android software program and digicam options.

Do not buy it if…

You spend a number of time away from energy retailers or you do not take a number of photographs.

The place to purchase

Replace 1: 2019/11/08 8:56am PST by Ryan Whitwam

Two weeks later

I have been utilizing the Pixel Four and Four XL full time for the previous few weeks, and I’ve acquired a bit extra to say about them. I am going to begin of by noting that the Four XL is most certainly going to be my day by day driver going ahead. It is not an ideal cellphone, nevertheless it’s the correct cellphone for me. It won’t be the correct cellphone for you, however hear me out.

Let’s tackle the elephant within the room: battery life. The smaller Pixel Four is okay for me as a result of I do not spend all day away from energy retailers. That mentioned, I do not blame anybody for being disenchanted right here. The battery life on the Pixel Four is beneath common, and Google has no enterprise placing out a beneath common product when it is focusing on Apple. I would not advocate shopping for the small Pixel proper now.

So, bummer, proper? Nicely, there’s a simple treatment for Pixel followers who desire a new cellphone: get the Four XL.

The Four XL has an even bigger battery than the three XL did, and I do not actually have an issue with its longevity. It makes it via an entire day—24 hours after which some—with a wholesome Four or 5 hours of energetic use. That is with all of the default options turned on and 90Hz compelled on in developer settings. I’ve experimented with disabling Soli, nevertheless it would not make a significant distinction. You would possibly burn 5-ish % of your battery on Soli. It is not class-leading battery life, however I haven’t got vary anxiousness with the Four XL. The display screen brightness is common, however the show reflectance is extraordinarily low. So, outside efficiency has been wonderful for me.

I nonetheless miss the fingerprint sensor, however I am adjusting to Face Match. There have been instances within the final two weeks after I picked up different telephones and simply stared at them, ready for one thing to occur. Then, I keep in mind they do not have Face Match, and I discover the fingerprint scanner. I actually want this cellphone had each, however I do know that is not life like, and I like Google’s face unlock for what it’s. It is quick, and it even works for me after I’m mendacity in mattress at a bizarre angle. I am not personally frightened concerning the eye detection situation, and the hysteria strikes me as weird. What number of telephones are transport with insecure 2D camera-based face unlock? Google is including eye detection, so I think about this a non-issue.

The digicam continues to be unbelievable. I’ve grown to love not fretting concerning the zoom degree after I take photographs. Nonetheless, I have not used the twin publicity sliders as a lot as I assumed I might. I’ve been capable of attempt Astrophotography mode a bit, and it is rather cool. It is not a game-changer for cell pictures as a result of that you must have a tripod helpful, nevertheless it’s a pleasant bonus for an already phenomenal digicam.

Dwell Caption is one thing I did not discuss a lot about within the unique assessment, however I have been utilizing it rather a lot as of late. I depart my cellphone muted more often than not, however Dwell Caption can nonetheless transcribe speech. It is helpful if I simply need to get the gist of a video with out making noise.

So, do you have to run out and however a Pixel Four XL? The reply is fairly clearly “no.” We now have good proof Google goes to supply large reductions on the brand new Pixels this coming Black Friday, so that you would possibly as properly wait. It is not like Google hit this one out of the park anyway. I just like the Pixel Four XL, however Google is making too many compromises whereas on the similar time attempting to place the Pixel as an iPhone competitor. Google can, and may, do higher.

About Ryan Whitwam

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