Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL Reviews

The Google Pixel 4 lineup is finally here after being announced on 15 October. This means it is now available for pre-order and will be launched officially on 24 October. Google has continued to wow smartphone users year after year by unveiling new Pixel products with each being better than the forerunner. The Pixel 4 comes in two variations – the Pixel 4 and the Pixel 4 XL. The design aspect of these two variations is actually the same unlike the previous variants for Pixel 3. Both of them come with the latest OS which is Android 10 and a guaranteed three years of OS and security updates.

The only major difference is the size with the Pixel 4 XL being larger than the standard-sized Pixel 4. Everyone is pretty excited about Pixel 4 and 4 XL but what exactly is Google bringing to the table this time and is it worth upgrading from your current Pixel 3 model? The new pixel series is a marvelous piece of technology but as you would expect, everything has a good and a bad side. Here are the major things to expect from Pixel 4.

Design

The first thing that comes into your mind about this device even before you power it on is the overall design, appearance, texture, and feel of the device as you hold it in your hand. Both the Pixel 4 XL and the standard Pixel 4 come in three variant colors – white, black, and orange. The concept of colored power buttons that was seen in the Pixel 3 still lives on in the Pixel 4 and 4 XL. The white version has an orange power button, the black version has a white power button while the orange version has sort of a light pink color.

The frame on the edges is made of aluminum metal with a matt finish and is colored black for all the Pixel 4 models. The panel covering the back of the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL is purely made of glass although there is a slight difference depending on the color variation. The orange and the white variants have a matt finish on the back where else the black variant has a gloss finish. The matt finish is dull and has a smooth texture as opposed to the glossy finish which is shiny. Looking at this phone from the front, both the Pixel 4 and the Pixel XL have the same design unlike what we saw with the Pixel 3 which had a variant with a large notch on the screen while the others having a conventional screen design. This time around Google decided to get rid of the notch at the top but there is a noticeable curvature at the corners.

The screen is flat and does not curve around the edges. One design factor that many users are likely not going to be happy about is the fact that both the Pixel 4 and the Pixel 4 LX have a larger forehead compared to the chin. The screen to body ratio for this smartphone is 83.99% which is actually a low score considering some brands have reached an insane 98%. You would expect that with the current trends in smartphone technology, the screen on the Pixel 4 and the Pixel 4 XL would move closer or beyond the edged. Well, Google did it differently and the reason for the large forehead is to create more allowance for holding all the sensors that have been included this phone. The Pixel 4 comes with a 5.7-inch display while the Pixel 4 XL comes with a 6.3-inch display. Well, looking at other brands in the market, these are not the largest displays out there. The size difference between the Pixel 4 and 4 XL is quite noticeable even by just placing them side by side.

Another design feature that has been trending in 2019 and has been included in the new Pixel 4 models is the square flange holding the cameras. Talking of cameras and the square flange, many users out there had expected the new Pixels to come with triple cameras just like the iPhone 11 pro but this is not the case. Both the Pixel 4 and the Pixel 4 XL come with dual rear cameras and a single selfie front camera. The cameras on the rear feature one standard camera and one telephoto. For some reason or another, Google decided to exclude a wide-angle camera. This is a bummer especially if you loved the wide-angle selfie camera that came with Pixel 3. Seems telephoto was the preferred choice over a wide-angle camera.

Both the Pixel 4 and the Pixel 4 XL are water-resistant with a rating of IP 68. When it comes to the stereo, both models come with a pair of speakers, two at the bottom and the one on the earpiece. Just like Pixel 3, this flagship does not come with a headphone jack and the USB charging port is of type C. Not forgetting as well, the Pixel 4 and 4 XL don’t come with a fingerprint scanner at the back nor on the screen. The main form of authentication is facial recognition which has received a major improvement on the new Pixels. The sim compartment has been placed on the left side and can be configured with a Nano and an e-sim.

The Display

Both devices come with an OLED screen with the XL model having a pixel density of 537 PPI and the standard model having a pixel density of 444 PPI. This is basically the number of pixels per inch. The Pixel 4 XL will definitely have more clarity and definition than the Pixel 4. The Pixel 4 has a FullHD display while the Pixel 4 XL has a QuadHD display. FullHD is a resolution standard that outputs images and videos at 1080p where else QuadHD is four times that of 720p. Both screens do support HDR for more contrast and vivid display. One exciting feature of the display is that the color temperature on the screen will automatically change depending on that of the environment.

Both devices come with a maximum screen refresh rate of 90 Hertz which can be stepped down to 60 hertz. A 90 Hertz refresh rate is actually a big deal because the display responds to touch really fast and the experience is quite smooth. The refresh rate on the new Pixels is actually dynamic which means it switches between 60 and 90 Hertz depending on the app you are currently using. It also adjusts depending on whether you are facing the screen or not thanks to the IR sensors. Since the refresh rate is dynamic by default, you can be able to force a constant 90 Hertz refresh rate but the developer option has to be enabled for this. A 90-hertz refresh rate may seem fancy but the negative side to this is that the screen uses too much power than it normally would. Overall, it is a welcome improvement.

If you want the display to stand out or you don’t like how the user interface has been presented, both devices allow you to customize the style to your liking. There are four predefined styles to choose from but you can still add your own custom style. You can customize items like the shape of the frame around the app icons, the font, icon color, etc.

Hardware

The Pixel 4 and 4 XL come with a Snapdragon 855 System on Chip which is an improvement from the Snapdragon 845 that was on the Pixel 3 models. As for the internal storage, there are only 64GB and 128GB variations which is not that much considering some brands have managed to attain 512GB with plans of reaching 1TB underway. With the storage on the new Pixel devices, it calls for embracing cloud storage. The good news is, pixel 4 users will get unlimited cloud storage on Google Photos although not at original quality. Both the Pixel 4 and Pixel XL come with 6GB of RAM which is not impressive but it’s enough.

Both devices also include a separate Titan M security chip which incorporated a horde of security features that keep your device and data safe from all manner of attacks as well as maintaining preventive measures. Apart from that, Google has also included the Pixel Neural core which primarily takes care of image and voice processing.

Battery life and charging

The battery life for the Pixel 4 and the Pixel 4 XL is actually one of the most disappointing aspects of these devices. The smaller Pixel 4 comes equipped with a 2800mAh battery where else the Pixel 4 XL comes equipped with a 3700mAh battery. If there is something that will make users not to buy these phones, it’s the battery. Though the Pixel 4 XL is better off. Or maybe the Pixel 4 is good at conserving battery power. Well, let’s wait and see. Both models are equipped with fast charging technology at 18 Watts. Not forgetting they are both capable of wireless charging but in order to enjoy fast charging wirelessly, you will need to use the 10 Watts Google Pixel stand which does not come with the package.

The camera

Is Pixel 4 and 4 XL a camera phone? As you all know, these models come with two rear cameras and one front camera which is the complete opposite of what the Pixel 3 models had (dual front cameras & a single rear camera). One of the rear cameras has a standard lens while the other has a telephoto lens. Telephoto lenses are typically used for taking pictures of objects that are at a moderate to far distance. The front camera has an 8MP resolution and a 900 angle of view which is not bad despite Google getting rid of the wide-angle selfie camera.

The standard rear camera has a 12.2MP resolution and a 770 angle of view. As for the telephoto camera, it has a 16MP resolution and a 520 angle of view. The angle of view for the telephoto camera is low but this is not out of the ordinary because telephoto lenses usually have a small angle of view. This means that the telephoto camera will only work in portrait mode.  One camera feature that has been added to the Pixel 4 and 4 XL is the astrophotography. This feature has been incorporated into the night sight mode and turns on automatically when the phone is very still and when there is low light. You will need a stand or a tripod for this since it can take up to 3 to 4 minutes to take a single shot. This is because the phone tries to capture as much light as possible by taking multiple long exposure shots. The number of shots will depend on the light available.

Another thing to note is that the HDR effect can now be processed in real-time. This means that the images will look the same when you are taking it as it would after being processed. This gives you even more control over HDR by allowing users to adjust the light as well as the exposure of areas that are dark. The telephoto camera brings 2 X zoom capability which is then backed with Google’s Super Rez Zoom technology which prevents images from losing detail when zoomed.

Motion sensing and facial recognition

Google has quite outdone themselves when it comes to motion sensing. The pixel 4 and 4 XL have been fitted with a radar chip which has brought some new and exciting features. This enables the device to determine if and when the user is about to grab the phone and lights up the screen without having to press the power button. Another thing that has been included to enhance facial recognition is the IR sensor. These two functionalities coupled together make for a lightning-fast unlock. It is very fast such that the screen gets unlocked by the time you are done lifting the phone. Although Google has included an option to slow it down in case you want to view the lock screen. The phone also turns off the display when it realizes that you are not in close proximity.

Another cool feature is the ability to switch between songs on the music player by just waving your hand above the screen. This action also allows you to mute calls as well as snooze alarms. Although this feature will require a couple of tries before you get it right.  Live wallpapers will also respond to hand gestures, for example, the Pokémon live wallpaper waves back when you wave at it.

Some of the extra features

Onboard Google Assistant

The Google Assistant on the Pixel 4 and 4 XL is more intelligent and faster since it has been integrated into the operating system itself. This means that with the new pixels you will no longer require an internet connection in order to interact with Google Assistant.

Audio recorder & transcription

The exciting part about the audio recorder is that it is able to convert recorded speech into text. Furthermore, it allows you to search for specific sections containing specific text or phrase. All this does not require and internet connection.

Live captioning

Live caption is also a new feature in the Pixel 4 and 4 XL. When turned on, a live caption for any video or audio that is played immediately appears. This shows the exact words being spoken in the video or audio. The language that is currently supported is English but Google is working on adding more languages.

Screen attention

This display feature prevents the screen from turning off when you are looking at something on the screen. This is quite handy in a situation where you don’t touch the screen for a considerable amount of time but still have your attention on the screen. The Pixel 4 and 4 XL basically uses IR sensors to monitor your eyes.

Google Pixel 4 XL Reviews Roundup

Just a few days after the announcement, the internet is already buzzing with sentiments about the new Pixels. Here is what the ‘web’ has to say:

Android Authority: At $799, the 64GB Pixel 4 is overpriced. For reference, the base model iPhone 11 costs $699 and it also has 64GB of storage. It’ll cost you $100 more to get 128GB on either Pixel 4, whereas Apple charges half that on the iPhone. At $899, the 128GB Pixel 4 is too expensive for a phone that will struggle to get you through a full day without disabling features. The $899 Pixel 4 XL is equally hard to recommend with just 64GB of storage, no microSD card, and no original quality Photos uploads. Which leaves us with the $999 128GB Pixel 4 XL as the only viable option. And that’s still expensive for what you get.

The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are great phones in several respects, but they misfire far more often than they should at this price point. The major sticking points are battery life and the reliability of some new hardware features, making them hard to recommend despite an out of this world camera, great performance and software experience.

Tom’s Guide: “Choosing between Google’s new Pixels, it’s clear that the Pixel 4 XL is the better option, especially if you like big screens and longer battery life. As for how Google’s phablet stacks up to other top smartphones, that’s a tougher call that depends on what you’re looking for in a handset.

The Pixel will still be on the short list for anyone who wants a top camera phone, though the iPhone 11 Pro exceeds it in many ways. The Pixel remains the best way to experience Android, and exclusive features like Live Caption (which comes to other Android devices in 2020) and Recorder’s live transcription drive that point home for the Pixel 4 XL. That said, if you’re intrigued by the new Pixel’s 90-Hz refresh rate and want the latest version of Android on a big screen phone, the OnePlus 7T ticks both boxes and costs $300 less than the Pixel 4 XL.

Still, the Pixel continues to deliver the best that Google has to offer — great cameras, the latest version of Android, and software smarts that really allow you to do more with your phone. And the Pixel 4 XL’s wider availability makes it easier than ever to make this phablet your smartphone of choice.”

TechRadar: “The Google Pixel 4 XL is a handsome phone in its simplicity that, by the same coin, feels less impressive than its Android flagship counterparts. It doesn’t help that its new standout features are inessential, and erratically functional. But new interface improvements and a camera suite that’s better in both the hardware and software departments ensure that this phone stands up to be counted, even if it doesn’t stand out from the competition.”

Whathifi: “We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – you don’t half get a staggering amount of technology in today’s smartphones. And the Pixel 4 XL is a fine example. While this isn’t a huge upgrade on the 3 XL, there are good enough upgrades to overall usability, performance, the video and the camera, plus some neat new features that are exclusive to Android 10 on this phone.

With our sound and vision hats on, it’s just a shame the audio quality doesn’t match the performance elsewhere to make the Pixel 4 XL a true five-star phone. That said, for Android purists and photography fans, this may well still be the phone to beat.”

 

Google Pixel 4 Reviews Roundup

Inverse: “The Pixel 4 is yet another reminder Google doesn’t really care about making killer phones. The 90Hz screen is wicked smooth, but I could get a OnePlus 7 Pro or 7T for less. Same for Android 10: the 7T ships with it.

The cameras are great, but everyone’s now got an ultra-wide camera and the Pixel 4’s dual lenses just aren’t enough.

Battery life (on the Pixel 4 — I can’t speak for the 4 XL) is average and nothing to brag about. 64GB of storage of base storage is a crime, not just on Pixel, but on iPhone, too.

As a smartphone — one that starts at $799 — the Pixel 4 is as bland as it gets, which probably means it will remain a phone for the most diehard Google fans. But even for them, there’s better Android phones to get.

Google may not care if its Pixels ever compete with the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy — after all, the Pixel 4 is just a container for its “ambient computing” dream — but real people want to see they’re in the game to win, not to just to casually mess around, which is honestly what they’re doing… again.”

Tech Crunch: “The Pixel continues to distinguish itself through software updates and camera features. There are nice additions throughout that set it apart from the six-month-old 3a, as well, including a more premium design and new 90Hz display. At $799, the price is definitely a vast improvement over competitors like Samsung and Apple, while retaining flagship specs.

The Pixel 4 doesn’t exactly address what Google wants the Pixel to be, going forward. The Pixel 3a was confirmation that users were looking for a far cheaper barrier of entry. The Pixel 4, on the other hand, is priced above OnePlus’s excellent devices. Nor is the product truly premium from a design perspective.

It’s unclear what the future will look like as Google works to address the shifting smartphone landscape. In the meantime, however, the future looks bright for camera imaging, and Google remains a driving force on that front.

CNBC: “I like the Pixel 4, but I don’t love it. Maybe that will change as Google finds more uses for the radar sensor, which is the big thing here that’s supposed to make the Pixel stand out from the crowd.

If you want a good camera and a great Google experience, you can save hundreds of dollars and just buy the Pixel 3a. If you want a bit more, check out the $749 Samsung Galaxy S10e or $899 Galaxy S10. You won’t get Google’s exclusive software or the radar sensor, but you get a better screen, really good cameras and better design. Finally, if you don’t know if you want an Android phone or not, or just need a new phone, get the iPhone 11. It’s $100 cheaper than the Pixel 4.”

Gizmodo: “Even though there’s only a handful of Motion Sense gestures (swipe, hover, and presence detection), they make using the Pixel 4 feel a lot more human.

The standard Pixel 4’s battery is very average, so if you use your phone a lot or just get anxious about longevity, you should opt for the XL.

The notch from last year’s Pixel 3 is gone, and it won’t be missed.

The Pixel 4’s 3D face recognition is fast and pretty accurate, but Google needs to add support for alternate looks and attention checks like you get on an iPhone (the latter of which is due out in a few months).

Despite the Pixel 4 incredible software, a bit more investment in hardware would go a long way.

For the Pixel 4, Google promises three years of software and security updates.”

Techspot: “Google’s Pixel phones have a reputation for thoughtful software and impressive cameras, but this year’s Pixel 4 represents a step in a new direction. Motion Sense makes it possible to control the phone without touching it, and some key improvements make Google Assistant faster and more capable. When everything works the way it’s supposed to, the Pixel 4 feels like a taste of the future. It’s too bad, then, that some of its most important new additions don’t work as well as they’re supposed to, and that the phone’s small battery can be limiting. While those issues don’t disqualify the Pixel 4, they mean this smaller model is harder to embrace than in years past.”

Lifewire: “I really like the Google Pixel 4, but not without caveats. I think the design is clean if no longer distinctive. I like the size, but wish the screen was larger. I’m impressed with gesture control but need it to work in more ways and in more places. The camera system does some amazing work but is not entirely consistent. Night Sight, though, is amazing. The Pixel 4 is, even without an included headphone, a great value for $799, but does disappoint a bit with just 64 GB to start.

If you are an Android fan, this is an excellent, pure Android 10 experience with some of the best Google Assistant integration on the planet. The Google Pixel 4 raises the bar with true touch-free gesture control and sets a new standard for mobile astrophotography. I think Pixel fans will be very pleased.

PC mag: “The Google Pixel 4 is an Android lover’s dream and a clear Editors’ Choice. It features a gorgeous design, powerful hardware, a 90Hz OLED display, terrific camera performance, and genuinely useful software that make getting things done easier than ever. And you don’t have to worry it growing obsolete anytime soon, as Google guarantees at least three years of updates. The only real downside is that the Pixel 4 tops out at 128GB of storage, which is pretty meagre for smartphone shutterbugs.

If you’re looking for a flagship phone with more storage, consider a handset in Samsung’s latest Galaxy lineup, like the $999.99 Galaxy S10+. Like the Pixel 4, it has an awesome camera, great build quality, a 90Hz display, and comes with many more storage options. If you’re looking to save a little money, meanwhile, the $669 OnePlus 7 Pro is a strong value with many of the same features. But if you’re looking for the best of what Android has to offer, the choice is clear: Get the Pixel 4.”

Slash Gear: “If, as the old adage goes, the best camera is the one you have with you, there’s a lot to be said for carrying the Pixel 4 instead of a DSLR or Micro Four Thirds camera. Even with some rough edges in Portrait Mode, and the absence of prosumer-friendly options like 4K 60fps video, the amount of flexibility Google packs into the Pixel 4 is astonishing.

How you use it has taken a big step forward, too. HDR+ previews in particular, which do a much better job of showing you what the end result of the shot will be, are something I wish all other smartphones offered. I like the dual sliders for adjusting both overall brightness and shadow brightness, too.

All the same, it’s clear that other smartphone-makers have raised their game significantly in 2019, too. The iPhone 11 Pro’s Night Mode is eminently capable, and even though they’re also not perfect, I often prefer its Portrait Mode images to those of the Pixel 4. Other Android phones have good low-light modes as well, and of course many offer the third, ultra-wide camera that Google still eschews.”

New York Times: “The Pixel 4 has a few intriguing features, like the transcription feature built directly into its voice recorder, which worked well in my tests. The screen also has a higher refresh rate, which makes motion look smoother.

But over all, these perks did not make up for the Pixel 4’s weaknesses, and I was disappointed that Google didn’t do more to distinguish its premium phone from competitors. With its rivals catching up on sophisticated photo software, Google looks behind the curve in hardware.

For those with older Pixel phones, I recommend taking a wait-and-see approach before considering an upgrade. All the older Pixels, including the original model from 2016, are still getting software and security updates, so there is no rush to buy. The Pixel 4 will be a nice upgrade only if Google meaningfully strengthens the security of the face scanner.”

Dxomark: “Previous Pixels have generally outperformed other single-cam devices in our database thanks to Google’s advanced software processing and super-resolution algorithms. With its key competitors continuing to add more lenses and sensors to their flagships, however, there was a danger Google would seriously drop off the pace.

The dual-cam Pixel 4 allays those fears, and the introduction of a second tele-lens makes it one of the best performers for zoom on the market that we’ve tested. It’s a solid performer in most other areas for stills, too, not to mention achieving joint top rank for video, with exceptional results for color, noise, and artifacts in moving images.

Adding an ultra-wide-angle third camera and dedicated ToF sensor for bokeh shots will be needed in future iterations, however, if the Pixel is going to meet the challenge for a spot at the very top of our rankings for stills.”

Android Central: “Right out of the gate, we need to warn you about the phones’ battery life. It’s not good. The larger Pixel 4 XL can barely make it through a full day of use, but if you opt for the baby Pixel 4, it’ll become a regular occurrence to seek out a charger before you go to bed.

That’s a big issue, and things aren’t made better by the gimmicky Motion Sense gestures and small RAM/storage configurations considering how expensive the phones are.

You will find saving graces with the camera performance, display, and design, but at the end of the day, it ultimately comes down to your willingness to put up with the battery woes.”

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