There's also a change on the rear, with a large, square camera block sitting in the top-left corner — it's a similar aesthetic to that of the new iPhone 11 series. It's not an especially stylish implementation, but it has allowed Google to group two cameras the first time it's included a second snapper on the rear of a phone , the flash and sensors into one area. The phone can survive a short submersion in water thanks to its IP68 water resistance rating, which we tested by dunking it in a park fountain without issue.
The other thing you need to be aware of design-wise is that this phone lacks a fingerprint scanner. Google has decided to go all-in on face unlock, which it claims is quick and easy to use, and we found it to work accurately and speedily. However, while Apple has had success with Face ID on the iPhone X and newer iPhones, the Android ecosystem and especially the apps available on the platform isn't quite at the same stage.
Google Pixel 4 review: a good phone ruined by poor battery life | Technology | The Guardian
In a similar vein to the OnePlus 7 Pro and OnePlus 7T, the Pixel 4 comes with 90Hz refresh rate, which results in a smoother experience when scrolling through social media or playing games. Smartphones typically have a refresh rate of 60Hz, but the Pixel 4 along with a few others such as the above OnePlus handsets refreshes 1. We found the difference especially noticeable when scrolling through our Twitter feed or using Instagram.
As mentioned, the big upgrade on the Pixel 4 is the inclusion of a second rear camera — this is the first time Google has put more than one lens on the rear of a handset. Two rear cameras is still pretty modest these days though, with most high-end flagships boasting three, four and in some cases even five.
The addition of the telephoto lens is notable too, enabling you to zoom in on subjects without losing quality. This tech leads to another new camera feature called Dual Exposure. It decouples the brightness controls of the background and the shadows controls in the foreground. We were able to adjust them independently via two on-screen sliders and, with a solid minute of tinkering, reduce the blown out backgrounds and see our once-shadowy subject. Portrait mode is notably better than ever, with the Pixel 4 able to distinguish the subject we were shooting from its background very effectively.
You can see in the two examples below where the camera has identified what we wanted to keep in focus, and it could have been difficult with these subjects. Google's Night Sight mode, which sees the camera pull light seemingly from nowhere in ultra low-light situations for surprisingly bright, clear shots, gets an upgrade on the Pixel 4 as well — and it needs it, as competitors have caught up, with Huawei and Apple both now offering similarly strong night modes. We found this to work fantastically well in our testing and you can see an example of the results below.
The Pixel 4 also comes with a new astrophotography mode, which allows you to take bright, clear images of the moon, stars, and galaxies. Google says you'll need to head out of light-polluted cities and into the countryside to take advantage of this new mode, and you'll also need to brace the Pixel 4 against a stable surface, or mount it on a tripod or other support — only when the phone detects that it's fully stable will it be able to capture the 15 long-exposure shots required to produce a well-exposed and detailed image.
The Google Pixel 4 packs Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon chipset, giving it plenty of grunt, and that's complemented by Google's first ever bump in RAM for a Pixel phone. We found in our time using the phone that it was speedy, able to load apps and games with ease as well as offering everything we need from a modern smartphone. The software on the Google Pixel 4 also works smoothly. On-screen you'll find Android 10 , the latest version of Google's mobile operating system, which features the firm's smart assistant baked into its core and new gesture controls.
Google Assistant has been improved in Android 10, and the Pixel 4 showcases the smarter voice assistant. You can now request it to open apps, and perform searches in them — for example, saying "Hey Google, show me Beyonce on Instagram" will open the social app and take you to the pop star's profile page. Unlike most though the aluminium sides have a black textured coating, which aids grip, while the back feels almost like super-smooth skin or silk rather than glass.
It also has bold, contrasting colours, if you choose the white or orange variant, that make it stand out well against the competition. The 6.
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Generally it makes the experience of using it smoother and more fluid. The textured sides and frosted glass back help with grip. I never felt I would drop it. Operating system: Android Most will be very happy and the Pixel 4 XL is likely to continue feeling fast and responsive a couple of years down the line if the previous generation Pixels are anything to go by. The Pixel 4 XL only lasts just over 26 hours between charges with medium usage, which means 7am on day one until 9am on day two in the working week. That was while using it as my primary device, with or so emails, messages and push notifications, a couple of hours of browsing in Chrome, five hours of Spotify via Bluetooth headphones, 50 minutes of Into the Badlands from Amazon Prime Video, and taking about 15 photos.
For comparison, the OnePlus 7T lasts 34 hours or the similarly sized iPhone 11 Pro Max lasts just shy of 48 hours under similar conditions. Turning off the ambient display feature added about two hours to the battery life. The Pixel 4 XL is one of the first smartphones to ship with the latest version of Android 10 , here with a level of polish only OnePlus rivals, and a bunch of Pixel-exclusive features, some of which will make it to third-party smartphones at some point.
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Android 10 introduced a system-wide dark mode, full theming support for changing colours, icon shapes, typefaces and more, and vastly improved gesture navigation, which makes using large-screen smartphones a lot easier. The big new Pixel 4 XL software advance is on-device natural language processing.
Google Pixel 4 review
Now Google has managed to make that technology run on the phone itself, with some very impressive results. A new version of Assistant uses it to great effect. You can rattle off commands at breakneck speeds and it will understand the lot. If you want to open the camera, shoot a photo and share it to a friend you can now do it faster with your voice than you probably can with taps. The Google Recorder app is equally impressive, transcribing voice recordings on-device in real time and tying text and audio together so you can search through them.
You can notice a difference, and phone enthusiasts often say they'd never go back to a regular 60hz refresh rate after using 90hz. While I can appreciate the smoothness, I'm not bothered returning to my iPhone or Galaxy Note 10 after using the smoother screen on a Pixel 4. The design is a little unappealing, with a big forehead above the screen where Google squeezed the front-facing camera, radar sensor and technology for facial recognition.
It's not as clean as the latest Samsung phones, which have just a tiny hole for the camera. I like the orange color of my review unit, though, and that Google still adds a splash of color to the power button, too. The radar sensor is a bit gimmicky right now, but that might change as Google works on it. It seems as if Google was building the so-called Soli technology and needed somewhere to use it, so decided to just cram it into a phone.
It's meant to allow you to control the Pixel 4 with gestures, but it's super limited in what you can do. It was most valuable for detecting my hand approaching the phone and turning on the facial recognition software so that the phone unlocked quickly. You can use the Soli radar sensor to snooze or dismiss timers and alarms or skip songs in Spotify.
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It works if you wave your hand quickly across it, and there's a small glowing indicator at the top of the screen to let you know it sees your hand. But it doesn't work for anything else that might be useful, like scrolling down a website if your hands are dirty and you're reading a recipe, or through photos.
Also, this just isn't how I use my phone. I swipe the screen. It's fine. Google says it's working to add more functions, but as it stands it's pretty uninteresting. Also, Samsung first tried this sort of thing albeit, I believe, without radar back in with the Galaxy S4. No one cared. The Pixel 4 also doesn't have a lot of storage or any way to expand it.
The entry-level model comes with 64GB and the high-end option has GB. And apps and games are getting larger than ever.
Pixel 4 price and availability
You should buy the GB model, but I'm curious why Google didn't add expandable storage, as Samsung does. My guess is Google wants you to keep as much of your stuff in its cloud storage as possible. Finally, it seems absolutely silly for Google not to include headphones in the box. Or, at the very least, an adapter so that you can use your regular headphones.
The Pixel 4 doesn't have a traditional 3. Google told me it made the decision because it thinks most people already have headphones. But most people who don't use Bluetooth headphones probably don't already have an adapter to use with the USB-C port. I like the Pixel 4, but I don't love it.