Google has been working up to this for more than four months, but now it’s here, so say hello to the Pixel 4.
For its fourth-generation Pixel phone, Google changed things up a bit, not just in terms of design, but also when it comes to the Pixel 4's features and capabilities.
So gone is the traditional two-tone color pattern from previous models, along with the big notch on the Pixel 3 XL. And in their place, Google has upped the Pixel’s photography game with a second rear camera, refreshed its specs with faster guts and a new color, and even added a brand new gesture recognition feature called Motion Sense.
Specs and models
OK, let’s start with the basics. Similar to previous years, the Pixel 4 will be available in two sizes: the 5.7-inch standard Pixel 4, and the 6.3-inch Pixel 4 XL, both of which sport slightly larger screens than last year’s handsets. Inside, both models will come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage (with a 128GB option), IP68 water-resistance, and a USB-C port for charging and data transfer.
Additionally, both phones come with what Google is calling a Smooth Display, which uses a 90Hz refresh rate (up from the standard 60Hz refresh rate you get on most phones), which should make apps, games and just generally using the phone look and feel more fluid and responsive.
The one concerning thing from a spec standpoint is the size of the Pixel 4’s battery. At 2,800 mAh, the Pixel 4's battery is actually slightly smaller than the 2,915 mAh battery in the Pixel 3. While some power efficiency improvements thanks to the Pixel 4's Snapdragon 855 chip should help balance out the phone’s smaller battery, it’s still not very comforting thought considering the Pixel 3's battery life was just good, not great.
Thankfully, the Pixel 4 XL’s battery has gotten a sizable jump up from 3,430 mAh on the Pixel 3 XL to 3,700 mAh on the Pixel 4 XL, so longevity shouldn’t be a concern for the larger model.
Detailed earlier this year, the Pixel 4's new Motion Sense gesture recognition is based on tiny radar chips embedded in the Pixel’s top bezel. This allows the Pixel 4 to identify and track nearby objects like a person’s hand, so you can skip songs, snooze an alarm, or silence a call just by waving at the phone.
The idea of adding gesture recognition to phones is something other companies have tried before like on the LG G8 in the spring and even as far back as the Air Gestures on the Samsung Galaxy S4 from 2013. However, Google’s use of radar instead of cameras or 3D time of flight sensors is a new approach and could be one of the Pixel 4's most unique and powerful features.
For 2019, the Pixel 4 is getting a new 16-MP 2x telephoto camera in back to go with its 12-MP primary camera, though it seems this upgrade has come at the cost of the dual selfie cameras Google gave the Pixel 3, as the Pixel 4 only has a single camera in front.
The Pixel 4's 2x telephoto camera is another first for any Pixel phone and works with the Super Res Zoom feature Google introduced on the Pixel 3 to deliver up to a 10x hybrid zoom. But even more important than that are all the new features and modes Google has added to the Pixel’s camera.
Alongside general speed and image quality improvements to the Pixel’s impressive Night Sight mode (which now comes with a new astrophotography mode), Google has come up with a handful of new features including Live HDR+, improved portrait shooting, and better selfies.
Meanwhile, Live HDR+ is a video upgrade allowing the Pixel 4 to capture brighter, more colorful footage with high dynamic range in real time. And to make adjusting HDR photos easier, Google is adding dedicated settings for tweaking white balance and exposure. Even portrait mode is getting an upgrade by combining photo info from both rear cameras to add capture extra depth and detail to images.
Aside from the cameras, the Pixel 4 will also include IP68 water-resistance, Qi wireless charging, and a built- in Titan M security chip. Also, new for the Pixel 4 is a 3D dot projector that allows for faster and more accurate face unlock similar to what you get on an iPhone 11.
Google also showed off the Pixel 4's new live transcribe feature live during the launch event, which even includes the ability to search audio clips using specific keywords, right on the phone without needing an internet connection.
Google is even tossing in three months of 100GB of cloud storage for free with a new Pixel 4.
Price and Availability
The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL will be available in three colors (black, white, and a limited edition “Oh So Orange”) on October 24th, starting at $800 and $900 respectively. And for the first time, the Pixel 4 will also no longer be a Verizon exclusive and will be available in stores from all major U.S. carriers.