The Pixel 4’s refresh rate is inexplicably tied to its display brightness [Update]

The Pixel 4.
Enlarge / The Pixel 4.

Replace 3:33pm ET: Google gave the next assertion to The Verge:

We designed Easy Show in order that customers may take pleasure in the advantages of 90Hz for improved UI interactions and content material consumption, whereas additionally preserving battery when larger refresh charges aren’t crucial by reducing again all the way down to 60Hz.

In some situations or conditions, nevertheless, we set the refresh fee to 60Hz. A few of these conditions embody: when the person activates battery saver, sure content material akin to video (because it’s largely shot at 24 or 30fps), and even varied brightness or ambient situations. We continuously assess whether or not these parameters result in the perfect general person expertise. We now have beforehand deliberate updates that we’ll roll out within the coming weeks that embody enabling 90hz in additional brightness situations.

So Google’s assertion appears to point that 1) this was on function, and a couple of) Google goes to alter it sooner or later because of some “beforehand deliberate updates.” The “Future Pixel Updates” checklist now accommodates this 90Hz show repair, which is due out “within the coming weeks” and the Face Unlock consciousness repair, which is due out “within the coming months.”

Authentic submit: After making an attempt out the Pixel Four at Google’s {hardware} present and at dwelling for a bit (evaluate coming ultimately) my working description for the brand new, 90Hz show has been that it is… “inconsistent.” Typically it appears easy, and generally it would not. Now Reddit person Brian Sefcik has found why: the show refresh fee is tied to the show brightness.

Wait, what? 

Sure, that is proper—at excessive brightness, the show runs on the full 90Hz; at decrease brightness, the show inexplicably drops again to the conventional 60Hz. XDA’s Mishaal Rahman discovered that the precise cutoff level is 75% brightness, and that is straightforward to substantiate on any Pixel Four by loading up the show take a look at and watching the body fee fluctuate with the brightness.

It is exhausting to think about why the Pixel Four would work this fashion. There was some hypothesis that this conduct is to assist the Pixel 4’s battery, which, on the smaller unit, is a minuscule 2800mAh. If this was a scheme to assist the Pixel 4’s anemic battery limp alongside all through the day, you’ll assume it will be the opposite method round. Excessive brightness makes use of extra battery, and excessive refresh fee makes use of extra battery, so in case you needed to assist the battery, you’ll solely enable one battery-sucking function at a time. Having “excessive brightness, excessive refresh” and “low brightness, low refresh” modes do not make sense for the battery. We requested Google PR about this and can replace this text if we get a response.

The Pixel 4's 90Hz display setting.
Enlarge / The Pixel 4’s 90Hz show setting.
Ron Amadeo

The wording of the Pixel 4’s 90Hz mode is fairly suspicious, with the corporate saying the mode “[a]utomatically raises the refresh fee from 60Hz to 90Hz for some content material.” I requested a number of folks on the Google {hardware} present what “some content material” is, and nobody got here clear concerning the brightness limitation. I used to be instructed that 90Hz would flip off when a person is viewing stationary photographs, which might be an implementation that is sensible. Hidden within the developer choices is a method to power 90Hz mode on a regular basis, which is how most different high-refresh fee telephones work.

Increased refresh fee shows are the subsequent massive factor within the Android world. The upper refresh fee results in smoother scrolling and animations and simply makes the machine really feel quicker and extra responsive. After years of Android telephones “not feeling as easy as an iPhone” the upper refresh fee shows indisputably put them forward. Probably the most mainstream units with this function are the OnePlus 7 Professional and 7T, which have 90Hz shows, and there is additionally the 120Hz Asus ROG Cellphone 2. Apple kicked off the cellular machine refresh fee race with the 120Hz iPad Professional, however it has but to deliver the know-how to an iPhone. Subsequent 12 months, we anticipate to see 90Hz+ shows from nearly everybody.

90Hz does use a bit extra battery, however to date most distributors have applied it with out all of the bizarre quirks of the Pixel 4.

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