Google Pixel 4 Review
So let’s just start with the wait looks I honestly think it’s a pretty decent looking phone it’s low-key really clean there are almost no markings along the back just the Google G at the bottom matte black aluminum rails as part of the design.
All the way around the phone speaker slots at the bottom lined up with the USB type-c port and the colored power button of course on every version and the whole back of the phone on two of the colors in this soft-touch matte finish which does a great job of not showing fingerprints it doesn’t seem to scratch very easily at all.
So of the three colors available I’m gonna say this white this Panda version is the best one that power buttons pretty sweet then I’m gonna say oh so orange is in second place not so great power button but at least it’s matte and then that jet-black weirdly very glossy version is in third place fun fact though since the rails are still matte black you can slap a matte black.
Brand skin on the back of any of these phones and you just created the matte black everything phone Google should have made in the first place so link to that below and of course shout out to the pixels square camera bump is again annoyingly a little bit raised but I don’t find this as drastic as say Apple’s larger double raised triple camera bump.
But more on the cameras later so yeah you know what generally it’s grown on me pretty decent looking phone I was though let a little bit down by the not super clicky buttons just the volume ones mainly but on the other hand something a lot of people have missed that’s good to know the phone is now IP68 water-resistant.
It still has the squeeze sensitivity for the assistant and it still has stereo speakers so they’re not front-facing pair like they were last year but they are still a good sounding solid pair with the slots at the bottom and the earpiece speaker combined the worst part about the way this phone look is the front the part you look at most of the time.
I’m not a fan of the forehead it has a smaller chin at the bottom than before but yeah that big forehead I don’t like it I’m still kind of barely getting used to it and overall the reason for the forehead doesn’t really have me convinced so there’s a cluster of new sensors up here in the top including the selfie camera.
Google Pixel 4 Review
Then also infrared projector receiver and radar which is new in any smartphone and this new sensor suite up here is good for two things the fastest face unlock in any smartphone and some gestures okay maybe it makes me a little not forward-thinking but I still like fingerprint sensors and this phone has none of that the face unlock is the only biometric unlock.
This phone has and I find myself missing a fingerprint sensor and the rate of improvement for fingerprint sensors under the glass has been pretty good so that move was not my favorite pixel for uses a radar sensor to essentially project.
A little bubble around the phone to see when things are near it when things are in the bubble want to enter it exit it etc so when you reach for your phone basically your hand enters the bubble and it starts firing up the infrared and faces unlock sensors.
Early so by the time you pick the phone up, it’s already reading your face and logging you in and it’s incredibly fast over and over again it’s super impressive possibly too fast this kind of reminds me of the OnePlus 6 and other phones that would just do face unlock with just the RGB cameras.
So they’d be insanely fast they would just see anything that looks like you and just unlock as soon as you glanced at it so this isn’t that it’s still infrared so it still can’t be fooled by a photo or video of you it still works in the dark and things like that so it’s got advantages but it’s still a little bit wild.
I find myself just unlocking this phone left and right all the time anytime I even just look at it sometimes I pick up the phone just to move it across my desk and I’ll just glance at the time and it unlocks the phone it also doesn’t require your attention.
So it will unlock with your eyes closed that’s a bit of a weird security quirk and it actually even tells you it’ll do this in the settings when you turn this on it says looking at the phone can unlock it when you don’t intend it to and your device can be unlocked by someone even if it’s held up to your face even if your eyes are closed and potentially could be unlocked by someone who just looks a lot like you these are things that could pretend chilies be fixed or improved with a software update.
Google’s been pretty good about software updates but as of right now they’re just pretty annoying my solution is turn off the skip lock screen option so if I do accidentally unlock it at least it won’t be awake for a while it just sits on the lock screen and then it’ll go back to sleep but yeah I mean that’s what I think.
I mean when I say I would have liked a fingerprint reader option it’s a little safer we’re a little more used to it and it just sort of works when we need it doesn’t when we don’t so that’s face unlock but then these sensors also enable a couple very specific gestures so anytime you’re in a situation you can wave over your phone and use the gesture the status bar sort of lights up it starts glowing and that means it’s ready so those situations are alarm clocks timers media controls.
Pikachu live wallpaper and there are no instructions like really built into Android there’s none in the Android 10 setup, for example, nothing really tells you what’s going on when you first get that glowing bar you just kind of have to know so when an alarm or a timers going off as your hand enters that radar bubble it quiets the alarm and then you can dismiss it by tapping or swiping away over the phone
That for me was my favorite it worked really well I can sleep with my phone on this pixel stand next to the bed and when the alarm goes off I just reached for it and it’s already quieting down the other thing that was less consistent for me is music apps so if you’re in Spotify or Google Play Music or any supported app.
Where that glowing bar starts showing up you can swipe forward and swipe back through previous and next tracks and yeah that’s it just forward and backward when I first tried this at the event I was getting a success rate of like 10 percent I’m not even exaggerating like it was pretty abysmal now with some troubleshooting and practice and some tips from Twitter I’d say I’m up to like a 70% swipe success rate maybe 75 so it’s less of like a big arm movement.
Although that sometimes does work but it’s more of like a casual swipe and not too close to the phone like right around where that radar bubble might be I think the real problem is it doesn’t show you or tell you how to do it then made by Google Twitter account they tweeted at me saying you can go to the pixel tips app which is pre-installed on the pixel.
Click save time and then click try it and then there you will find a demo if you want to practice it but even then there isn’t actually I tried it there isn’t actually any feedback it’s just letting you practice so all of that being said I’m still not gonna use these it sort of falls in that same gimmick bucket as the weird hover hand swiping action.
Google Pixel 4 Review
If it told me how to do it better maybe I’d be more into it but yeah not gonna use these if there’s anything to love about the front of this phone it’s the new display pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL have made the jump to smooth high res high refresh rate 90 Hertz displays my favorite trend in smartphones of the past year
So it’s difficult to show you exactly how much better that looks obviously I keep saying on camera because this is a 30fps video you know the correct frame rate but in person, it makes a huge difference and every time a new phone comes out with a 90 Hertz or higher display I can see a serious difference versus 60 Hertz
It comes with some trade-offs though it’s not the brightest display sometimes daytime visibility is pretty weak unfortunately so I’m keeping this phone at max brightness often and high refresh rate also requires more power so you’re gonna see a hit on battery life now
Initially, I was we’re all concerned about the battery life on a pixel for knowing it has a higher fresh rate and then the XL has a 3700 milliamp-hour battery and the smaller pixel for having a 2800 milliamp-hour battery that’s one the smallest I’ve seen in a phone in a while.
But impressively these phones have had for me ok battery life but there’s a big reason for that I was briefly messaging my friends who’re he’s testing this smaller pixel for and he said he’s getting around 5 hours of screen on time which if I take his word for it.
That’s actually pretty impressive for me I’ve been getting around 5 hours on this XL on 90 Hertz which you know that’s C+ which is a lot better than the FI thought it could turn out the reason this phone has been able to get even okay battery life is because it ratchets down to 60 Hertz constantly all the time it’s supposed to be smart about it
So it says when you turn on smooth display that it’ll turn back down to sixty Hertz when you’re not looking at it or you’re not using it much and then Ratchet it back up to 90 when you’re swiping or you see animations and stuff but I found often it just stays at 60 Hertz for extended periods for no apparent reason it almost seemed like it was defaulting to 60 Hertz most of the time and then sometimes bumping up to 90 Hertz for scrolling and some other things I started to not like it.
I started to find that this phone felt significantly choppier like any other 60 Hertz phone then say the OnePlus 7 Pro which seems like it’s almost always at 90 Hertz so I was like okay this isn’t great it’s not my favorite implementation of 90 Hertz it smoothes sometimes but it’s almost like a tease that it switches back and forth so much
So I’m like digging around in developer options just to see if there’s anything new and there is I found an option that I’ve never seen before it’s called force 90 Hertz and it just keeps the display at 90 Hertz all the time no matter what’s happening on the screen closer to what OnePlus does and it’s made a huge difference now.
It’s always smooth so I guess pro tip if you’re one of those people who’s more of a power user and uses their phone all the time and wants to see that 90 Hertz happen you can go in the developer settings scroll down find force 90 Hertz and turn it on it will obliterate your Pixel 4 battery life it’s definitely even worse now closer to addy it’s not lasting all day.
But at least it’s smoother now anyway I also found that it has ambient EQ which is supposed to be auto-adjusting the color temperature depending on the light around you kind of like apples true tone on the iPhone but I found it much more subtle so I just left it off it’s not nearly as dramatic and overall it’s just it’s not the flashiest or most eye-catching or dramatic display on any smartphone.
It doesn’t curve over the edges or anything but it’s 90 Hertz it’s 1440p it’s OLED and it’s flat but listen we all know what the pixel four is about so what the pixel 3 was about and it’s what the pixel 2 was about it’s the cameras and we got some new cameras on the back of the pixel 4 there’s dual cameras back here it’s a 12-megapixel primary camera and a new 16 megapixel 2x tell photo camera.
Okay if you told me the pixel 4 would have the first-second camera of any pixel phone and asked me what would be the most useless second camera they could put in the pixel right behind like a black and white depth sensor or a time-of-flight camera.
I would have put like a 2x telephoto lens just behind like an ultra-wide clearly being way more fun or a 3 or a 5x telephoto or any of that other stuff but that’s what we got we got 2x telephoto but you know what specs are just one thing I got actually use it in person that’s what I’ve been doing.
Maybe it’ll change my mind yeah it didn’t really change my mind typical photos from the pixel four are very similar to pixel 3 great dynamic range great sharpness and detail very contrasting and punchy and dramatic and biasing a little bit towards cooler tones typically if anything but they’re excellent photos.
They’ve got this image processing pipeline and their HDR down to a science and that didn’t shock anyone thankfully so that’s good and the improvements in the viewfinder are cool – you now have a real-time approximation of the HDR effect you’re going to get applied before you even snap the photo.
So there’s no guessing you can pretty much just see what the final photo is gonna look like as you’re taking it plus there are new sliders for exposure and shadow adjustment that can be really cool and you can mess with if you want but then having a second lens should mean portrait photos are better now because you have two lenses and you can finally do depth data between them.
I found that they’re about the same matter of fact some of the ones I took of Mac here look worse than any I ever took on the pixel 3 just look at that cutout failure that’s pretty terrible maybe I shouldn’t depend on pet photos for my testing of portrait mode but I’m not exactly convinced by that but generally on photos of people it’s doing about the same job with that aggressive cutout and then speaking of portrait mode you actually can’t do wide portrait photos anymore.
Which the pixel 3 took some of the best wide portrait photos but it gets even more double weird when you actually look into it so pixel 3 took some pretty great portraits with one wide camera right when you switch to portrait mode on the pixel 4 it automatically zooms in but not quite – 2 X – about point-seven or 1.8 X but then it doesn’t let you zoom out and take wide portrait photos like the iPhone does but as I’m messing with this I realize if I cover the telephoto camera.
While I’m in portrait mode nothing happens it’s still using the main camera for portrait mode photos is just using the second camera for depth approximation so why does it zoom in I have no answer for that so basically the best thing about having a telephoto camera is for zoomed-in photos I don’t take a lot of zoomed-in photos but I did notice them higher quality.
So if you’re someone who likes to go 6,8 X zoomed-in you’ll appreciate the better super resume there you go any way the question still is is this the best camera in any smartphone because I think we can all agree pixel 3 was top of the stack last year.
But now the field is catching up especially iPhone 11 Pro so which is better okay honestly in daylight for most photos I prefer pixel photos I definitely like that contrast II punchy detailed look the same with wide-angle selfies punchy detailed I’m a fan in lower light though.
I actually start to prefer iPhone photos and I know the pixel you know just got astrophotography capabilities that are really cool and nitrite has always been great for well over a year now but they get a little more dramatic and as a result a little more noisy and iPhones new night mode and deep fusion.
I think stayed Scheuer to life and as a result better in quality fun fact I actually did a collab that’s live now with super staff in one of his legendary side-by-side photo comparisons so that’s the best way to see the differences between the two so you can see iPhone 11 Pro versus pixel 4 side-by-side and all their glory.
I’ll leave a link below to that so is this the best camera in any smartphone sometimes I’m gonna say it’s a toss-up depending on the scenario and that’s not a cop-out I gave my reasons but if I could only pick one which is sort of a different question.
I would pick iPhone 11 Pro because it’s more versatile it has the ultra-wide and it absolutely crushes it in video like video is just not as much of a focus with the pixel forest camera anymore no pun intended it tops out at 4k 30fps which Google tweeted is because it would basically take up too much storage but then like you could still enable it in if you really cared right and that also it doesn’t explain why it doesn’t have 24 FPS video.
Which would have been a cool addition and it also tops out at 1080p from the front-facing wide camera so just generally if you’re in it for video you shouldn’t be looking at pixel you should be looking at iPhone 11 Pro my pixel vs. iPhone camera graph is like this pair of lines where the middle is where most photos are taken most of the time and that’s where I prefer pixel but on the edges of photography like low-light or ultra-wide then the iPhone does better so there hopefully that explanation makes sense and then you can’t forget Android 10 which gets the special treatment on the pixel.
Since it’s Google’s baby there are some good features here that add to how smart it is as a smartphone you already heard about the radar bubble and the smart unlock features they moved the text-to-speech offline local on the phone so text-to-speech is way faster and way more consistent.
I love that you can talk as fast as you want and it just works and there’s a new voice recorder app that takes advantage of that to live transcribe everything you say and then index is that text to make it searchable that’s like an S Pen level feature I personally probably won’t use it too much .
But I can see how people who use that would find it a really big deal but yeah the best part of a pixel again is how refined Android is if you want the latest version of Android if you want to be first with updates if you want the coolest edge features and the assistant.
All that is the phone again so overall many of the conclusions about pixel 4 are of course about how disappointing it is which I think is an easy conclusion to reach if you followed all the leaks and nothing really surprised you and are things that are let down.
I personally really enjoyed using pixel because of the punchy confident excellent camera for still photos and the 90 Hertz display which a lot of phones don’t have yet and of course the extra ram finally a smooth pixel phone but this isn’t a phone.
I’m gonna go around recommending to everyone it still needs a bigger battery needs more storage and it’s just generally not complete for most people so I guess if you’re like me which is in a tiny group of people who really like high refresh rate screens of course value the camera and want the latest version of Android and knees clicked up to and things like that and you’re willing to overpay.
Because we all know the pixel is a bit overpriced for the storage you don’t get then sure I recommend the pixel it’s great for people like that but for most people I’m not gonna end up recommending the pixel for mainly because of the battery but also because there are just better deals out there right now including the cheaper iPhone 11.
Weird to say but it kind of hits the ear funny but it’s true so there you have it the pixel for possibly a victim of the hype machine of being the most leaked phone of all time I kind of wouldn’t be surprised if it happens again next year but either way now you know what it’s like to own it and I’m curious are you in this tiny group of people who would like this pixel experience let me know either way thanks for reading, catch you guys in the next one another review.
Google Pixel 4 Specifications
Resolution: 1080×2280 pixels
Front Camera: 8 Megapixel
Rear Camera: 16+12.2 Megapixel
Processor: Snapdragon 855
Battery capacity: 2,800mAh
OS: Android 10
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