It works when the Pixel 4 is lying flat, and it even registers when the device is held in landscape orientation. The iPhone 11's TrueDepth camera can't match either claim.
Google Pixel 4 Summary
Face Unlock on the Pixel 4 even works while your eyes are closed, though Google has come under scrutiny for this; the company is working to deliver an optional setting in an update that forces the phone to confirm attention before unlocking. Overall, the system is very fast, which brings us to the Pixel 4's other party piece: Motion Sense.
Built upon Google's Project Soli radar technology, Motion Sense allows the Pixel 4 to monitor midair gestures and other movement around it. You can wave your hand above the phone to skip tracks in apps like Spotify and YouTube or snooze alarms. When you do either, you'll see a subtle glow move across the top edge of the display, indicating that the Soli radar sees your hand and recognizes its placement. The Soli chip knows when you reach for the Pixel 4, even when the phone is sleeping.
Once it realizes you're motioning to use your device, it fires up the Face Unlock stack so it's ready to identify you before you wake it. Those gestures are surprisingly intuitive, but there's a slight learning curve. There's some muscle memory you'll have to ascertain, particularly with that waving shortcut. Fast, passing motions are preferred; slower actions seem to confuse the radar.
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MORE: Smartphone buying guide: 9 tips for finding the right phone. In other words, if you wave your hand from right to left to go forward one track and then move your hand back to the right to do it again, that return motion will trigger a skip in the opposite direction unless you're really careful about keeping your hand away from the device. Motion Sense isn't perfect, and Google still has work to do. But it's not the fundamentals or usability that have me concerned but that there's so little you can do with Motion Sense right now outside of controlling media playback and snoozing alarms.
The functionality feels pretty limited at launch, similar to Google's Active Edge squeezing feature, which returns from last year's model and once again has little use outside of summoning your Assistant. Motion Sense has potential, but for now, it feels like a well-intentioned idea without a defining purpose. Those are necessary improvements, but they still leave the Pixel 4 behind other premium Android phones — not to mention Apple's latest A13 Bionic-powered iPhones, which remain the best-performing smartphones.
In Geekbench 5, which evaluates overall system performance, the Pixel 4 delivered a multicore score of 2, The iPhone 11 demolished both, at 3, That's serviceable yet behind the Note 10 5, , which utilizes the same processor but has more RAM. And unsurprisingly, it trails the iPhone 11 Pro 6, by an even larger margin. The numbers aren't record-setting, but Google's phones have never been about raw performance.
Rest assured that the Pixel 4 still feels snappy in regular use and handles demanding games, like Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile, about as well as other flagships. And just like its rivals, the Pixel 4 starts to heat up when you ratchet the battle royale shooter's graphics up to HDR quality with anti-aliasing. What the benchmarks don't tell you is that the Pixel 4 has an all-new coprocessor — the Pixel Neural Core — joining the Visual Core and Titan M security chip.
Pixel 4 XL camera
As the name suggests, it's the Neural Core that is tasked with accelerating machine-learning tasks and handling Google's on-device language models, allowing many Assistant tasks to be conducted locally. As a result, Google Assistant feels really fast on the Pixel 4, with commands deciphered at a pace I've never witnessed on another handset. That includes the iPhone 11 Pro, which took nearly 10 seconds to respond to a simple alarm command. In contrast, the Pixel 4 clapped back with an alarm set for 5 p. Between the Hz display, Soli radar and all the sensors and projectors necessary for Face Unlock, the Pixel 4 packs a lot of additional power-sipping components the Pixel 3 did not.
So you'd imagine Google would have increased the size of the battery, right? The Pixel 4's battery life is not only worse than the Pixel 3's; it's well off the longevity of the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and Galaxy S Actually, quite the opposite. That doesn't sound encouraging, and well, the results weren't, either. In Tom's Guide's battery test, which forces the device to endlessly refresh web pages while set to nits of screen brightness, the Pixel 4 called it quits after an average of 8 hours and 3 minutes, across two tests.
One additional session, run with the display adjusted to a less-energy-consuming 60 Hz, produced a slightly better time of 8 hours and 36 minutes. MORE: Best phone battery life — longest-lasting smartphone batteries. How does that compare to other flagships? It's not only worse than the Pixel 3 butwell off the longevity of the iPhone 11 , iPhone 11 Pro and Galaxy S10 In an age when high-end phone makers are finally listening to consumers and sacrificing some thinness for much-needed endurance, Google is still inexplicably reluctant to follow suit.
During one day of moderate use — no photography or gaming, but lots of browsing, flipping between apps and messaging — I made it from 8 a. That's not much better than the Pixel 3 I've been using for a year now. It's the same adapter that came with the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL, so no improvements have been made there. Additionally, the Pixel 4 again supports wireless charging, either over third-party Qi pads or Google's own Pixel Stand. Like you'd expect from a Google phone, the Pixel 4 launches with Android 10 and will be supported with updates until Three years of major version upgrades is more than the two that most flagship phones get, and because they're coming directly from Google, you won't have to wait six months before Android's newest features trickle down to your device.
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If you're interested in a deep dive into the Pixel 4's operating system, you can head over to our Android 10 review. In a nutshell, it adds some small, noteworthy improvements but feels unfinished in many areas, particularly with Google's piecemeal approach to Dark Theme and the absence of Live Caption. That last point is critical, because the Pixel 4 marks Live Caption's debut. The feature is like omnipresent subtitles across your phone. No matter what's on screen or what app you're using, if there's speech, Live Caption will spell it out, on the fly.
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There's a short delay between the audio and the caption, because the Pixel 4's Neural Core is transcribing what it hears in real time. It even modifies earlier words and punctuation based on contextual cues that become evident later. Live Caption is a powerful tool that leverages the Pixel 4's artificial intelligence in a useful way. But it does expend a lot of battery power, as Google points out the moment you switch on the feature which, conveniently enough, you can do right from the volume slider. So you won't want to leave Live Caption on indefinitely. The intelligence that powers Live Caption has also been extended to Recorder, Google's built-in voice recording app.
With the power of machine-learning-aided transcription that's remarkably accurate, the Pixel 4's recording software has instantly become my favorite way to record interviews.
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And fortunately, it's already been isolated as an APK that can be sideloaded on other handsets. It's not overpromising anything, and it seems to have the best chance out of any other company's attempts to make motion gestures a "thing. Wherever you are, whatever you do, Pixel phones just seem to take a great photo that you'll be happy with, and the same goes for the Pixel 4. Not a lot of other smartphones offer that kind of confidence. The irony is that there's a ton of Google's software and processing magic going on in each photo, but the Pixel 4 photos tend to look the least processed and more true-to-life than photos from most other smartphone cameras.
I still have to compare the Pixel 4 with other recent phones, especially the iPhone From what I've heard, Apple has caught up in a big way to Google's Pixel cameras. Google added a 2X optically zoomed lens to the Pixel 4 , and as a result, you get great 2X zoomed photos. But Google has seemed proud of what the Pixel 4's zoomed lens can do when you zoom further than 2X, where the phone starts using software-based digital zooming. Indeed, the Pixel 4's digital zooming is better than what I've seen on other phones, but photos with digital zoom still look like photos with digital zoom — there's still some blotchiness and detail smoothing.
I wouldn't use the Pixel 4's digital zooming to capture anything meaningful. Could you image wider Pixel-quality photos that captures more scenery, colors, and details? Unfortunately, imagining how good ultra-wide Pixel 4 photos would look like is all we can do, since the Pixel 4 doesn't have an ultra-wide camera.
It's a shame that the Pixel 4 doesn't have an ultra-wide lens like some of its biggest competitors — it means the Pixel 4 is a less versatile smartphone for taking photos than other recent smartphones, like the iPhone 11 , Galaxy S10 , and OnePlus 7T. Adding salt to the ultra-wide wound, Pixel 4 owners don't get the free, unlimited Google Photos storage at the "original quality" setting anymore, like Pixel owners did up until the Pixel 4.
With the Pixel 4, you get free, unlimited storage at Google Photo's "high quality" option, which is still great. It's actually hard to tell the difference between "original" and "high quality," but still, it's a demotion. The astrophotography mode on the Pixel 4 captured the night sky amazingly well. At the same time, my night sky is a little boring, and I'd imagine most night skies are pretty boring, too.
I think you need to be at a location that's directly under the Milky Way, or somewhere that's absolutely pitch black with no noise pollution, to take photos that look good and interesting. Otherwise, astrophotos, at least mine, look somewhat boring.
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No one should have expected Google to reintroduce a headphone jack into the Pixel 4 after ditching it with the Pixel 2. Nowadays, removing the headphone jack is pretty much standard, and I can't accuse Google of being unhelpful for this. If you have a traditional pair of wired headphones and you unbox the Pixel 4, you will not have anything you need to listen to music on your new Pixel 4.
The company surely wants you to buy its wireless audio solution to listen to music on the Pixel 4 — the Pixel Buds 2. But get this: they're not even coming out until next year. So either you're stuck with buying the extremely poorly reviewed original Pixel Buds, Google's USB-C wired earbuds, or your own choice of wireless Bluetooth headphones. So far, there have been no issues worth reporting. The adaptive 90Hz screen contributes a great deal to the Pixel 4's overall impression as a fast and powerful smartphone.
It's purely aesthetic yet surprisingly noticeable and meaningful compared to 60Hz phone screens, like the iPhone 11 series and Galaxy S For reference, the more "Hz" a screen has, the more frames per second it can display. More frames per second means smoother animations. The 3,mAh battery in the Pixel 4 XL will see you through the day, but not as comfortably as other smartphones.
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