Google Ends Support For Original Pixel, Improves the Pixel 4's Smooth Display

Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

With the calendar having recently turned over to November, Google has sent out updates to its latest phones with the Pixel 4 getting a handful of improvements. However, anyone still rocking an original Pixel unfortunately got nothing.

For November 2019, Google’s latest batch of updates includes six major patches headlined by improvements to the Pixel 4's Smooth Display. While Google has not provided a ton of additional detail about what’s actually going on, the patch to Smooth Display should allow the the Pixel 4 to take advantage of its 90Hz screen more of the time.

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At launch, the Pixel 4's Smooth Display was set so that it would only stay at 90Hz when the phone was set to 75 percent or higher brightness (unless you forced 90Hz all the time via a hidden developer setting). Google’s reasoning behind this is that because the screen doesn’t have a true variable refresh rate, users could encounter flickering if the screen switched between 60Hz and 90Hz frequently. Furthermore, because high refresh rates are harder to appreciate on a dim screen, the Pixel 4 typically reverted to 60Hz when the phone is set to low brightness in order to help extend battery life.

After the update, it seems Google is being more generous about when the Pixel 4's 90Hz screen is in full effect, which is definitely a welcome change as the Google’s Smooth Display is one of the phone’s best features. However, it remains to be seen how this update will affect the phone’s overall longevity.

Elsewhere, Google’s November Pixel update includes camera quality improvements for the Pixel 4, bottom speaker improvements for the Pixel 3, additional Bluetooth support for Xbox controller mapping on every Pixel since the Pixel 2, Google Assistant hotword upgrades, and finally, some assorted stability and security updates.

Sadly, the one Google phone that didn’t get any updates is the original Pixel, because after three years since its launch, the Pixel 1 has finally reached the end of Google’s support cycle. While it’s a bit depressing to see the OG Pixel near its end-of-life, it’s hard to be too upset considering the phone was only slated to get two major OS updates (to Android 8 and 9) but it got the update to Android 10 anyways.

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So pour one out for the OG Pixel, an ugly phone with a lot promise that started a whole new era in Google hardware and software design.

[Update 11/6/2019] While the original Pixel may have missed out this update, it seems Google will give the OG Pixel one final combined update in December.

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About the author

Sam Rutherford

Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.