Google has announced two new flagship smartphones during its press event today, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Those two handsets have been leaking for weeks now, and the vast majority of those leaks were spot on.
The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are direct successors to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL which arrived a year ago. Those two devices had their fair share of issues from the get-go. The same will hopefully not happen with the Pixel 4 series, even though Google did amend the Pixel 3 issues via software updates.
The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are extremely similar in many ways, but they’re not identical, of course. In this article, we’ll try to share as much information about the two phones as we possibly can.
The Google Pixel 4 & Pixel 4 XL share the same design
These two phones look the same from the outside. They are different in terms of size, but the design is identical. Both phones are made out of metal and glass. Both of them sport thin bezels, but not as thin as some other flagships that are available in the market.
The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL include a rather thick “forehead” aka top bezel. That bezel is actually considerably thicker than the bottom one, though there’s a good reason for that. We’ll talk about that a bit later.
The Pixel 4 series displays feature rounded corners, and the corners of Pixel 4 devices are rounded as well. On the back of both devices, you will notice two cameras, which are a part of a larger camera module. An LED flash is also included there.
Google’s logo is implemented on the back of both of these phones, and it’s quite subtle. You’ll also notice that a fingerprint scanner is not visible. Many people would assume that it is located under the phone’s display, but that’s not the case. Google opted to go down a different route, similar to Apple, and implement an advanced facial scanning system only.
Google Pixel 4 & Pixel 4 XL specs
|Google Pixel 4||Google Pixel 4 XL|
|Screen size||5.7-inch fullHD+ Smooth Display (flexible OLED, 90Hz)||6.3-inch QHD+ Smooth Display (flexible OLED, 90Hz)|
|Screen resolution||2280 x 1080||3040 x 1440|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|Storage||64GB/128GB; Non-Expandable||64GB/128GB; Non-Expandable|
|Rear cameras||12.2MP (1.4um pixel size, f/1.7 aperture, 77-degree angle lens, PDAF, OIS, EIS)|
16MP (1.0um pixel size, f/2.4 aperture, 52-degree angle lens, OIS, EIS, PDAF)
|12.2MP (1.4um pixel size, f/1.7 aperture, 77-degree angle lens, PDAF, OIS, EIS)|
16MP (1.0um pixel size, f/2.4 aperture, 52-degree angle lens, OIS, EIS, PDAF)
|Front cameras||8MP (1.22um pixel size, f/2.0 aperture, 90-degree angle lens, fixed focus)||8MP (1.22um pixel size, f/2.0 aperture, 90-degree angle lens, fixed focus)|
|Battery||2,800mAh, Non-Removable, 18W Fast Battery Charging (USB-PD 2.0), Qi wireless charging||3,700mAh, Non-Removable, 18W Fast Battery Charging (USB-PD 2.0), Qi wireless charging|
|Dimension||147.1 x 68.8 x 8.2mm||160.4 x 75.1 x 8.2mm|
|Weight||162 grams||193 grams|
|Connectivity||LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C||LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C|
|Security||IR-based facial scanning, Titan M module||IR-based facial scanning, Titan M module|
|OS||Android 10||Android 10|
|Price||$799 / $899||$899 / $999|
|Buy||October 24||October 24|
Both Google Pixel 4 phones include displays with 90Hz refresh rate
Google has opted to up the ante in the display department. The company included the so-called “Smooth Display” on both Pixel 4 handsets. Truth be said, the display is not the same on both phones, as the resolution is different.
The Google Pixel 4 features a 5.7-inch fullHD+ Smooth Display, while the Pixel 4 XL includes a 6.3-inch QHD+ Smooth Display. As already mentioned, both offer up to 90Hz refresh rate, and we still do not know if you’ll be able to manually opt for 60Hz.
That will save you battery, but also make the phone feel less smooth if you’ve been using the 90Hz refresh rate for a period of time. Google also included an Ambient EQ on both phones. The display will essentially adjust its refresh rate based on what you’re doing, automatically. Just to be clear, both of these displays are flat, and are OLED display.
Google is joining the high refresh rate club with the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. OnePlus announced four devices with 90Hz displays this year, while some other manufacturers release smartphones with 90Hz or 120Hz display refresh rates in the past. Pretty much every major flagship is expected to ship with an increased display refresh rate in 2020, those that are still on 60Hz.
Google opted not to include a dedicated camera for ultra-wide shots
The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL have the exact same camera setups. Both devices feature two cameras on the back, and one camera on the front. Google opted to include 12 and 16-megapixel units on the back, and an 8-megapixel one on the front.
That 12-megapixel sensor is the phone’s main camera, while the 16-megapixel one is a dedicated telephoto unit. The front camera does not offer software-backed wide-angle selfies, as the Pixel 3 series did. Google opted to ditch that feature. Truth be said, the Pixel 4 selfie camera does offer a rather wide lens, for a front-facing camera, so not many people will be disappointed here.
Google Pixel 4 camera modes: Frequent Faces, Astropography & Action Mode
The Google Pixel 3 series smartphones had great cameras, Those three devices, the Pixel 3, 3XL and 3a, are still considered to be amongst the best camera smartphones out there. Well, Google wanted to up the ante with the Pixel 4 series. The company included several new modes that you may find interesting.
Frequent Faces is a new feature thanks to which the phone can remember the faces of the people you take pictures of. Thanks to that data, the phone will find it much easier to focus on that person next time it needs to take a picture of him / her. If you are worried about privacy / security, you can always disable this feature.
Astrophotography is also worth noting, for sure. This is a new camera mode that allows you to take great images of the night sky. Some sample images did leak a while back, revealing how capable the Pixel 4 is in this regard. Once you select this mode, the camera will automatically adjust itself for such photography, to provide the best results possible.
Action Mode is also a new mode that many of you will find interesting. This mode is great for taking pictures of subjects that are moving quickly, your dog, for example. Some shots taken with this mode also surfaced, along with Astrophotography ones, so simply click the link in the last paragraph to check them out.
Night Sight is still here, of course
Night Sight is one of the main selling points of Google’s Pixel phones. Thanks to this camera mode, the Pixel 3 series phones were able to provide great images in low light. In fact, many people still think the Pixel 3 series phones are the best devices for low light photography.
Well, you’ll be glad to hear that Night Sight is not going anywhere, it’s still where you’d expect on the Pixel 4 devices. Google did do some tweaking of that feature, though, so it remains to be seen what the results will look like. We’ll have to test it out in order to find out, of course, but the expectations are high.
Live HDR+ with Dual Exposure seems like a great addition
So, what is Live HDR+? Well, let’s talk about HDR+ first. HDR+ essentially balances your extremes in an image. If you’re trying to take a picture of something next to a window, for example, and the window is blown out from all the sun. Well, HDR+ would balance out the image after you take it, and save it in the gallery. Well, Live HDR+ that Google announced, will do that in the viewfinder, while you’re taking an image.
So you will see the final product before you even take the image. Google also did some voodoo on the white image balancing in the camera, so that you can avoid those purple, blue and all other hues when taking images. The Pixel 4’s camera will try to balance out all that, in order to provide a proper picture even if the lighting is not ideal. Dual exposure controls have also been included in the camera, and will allow you to fine-tune your images as you use the camera.
Battery capacities on the Pixel 4 phones may be an issue for some
Google has opted to include a 2,800mAh battery in the Pixel 4, and a 3,700mAh battery in the Pixel 4 XL. Now, at first, those two batteries may seem rather small considering display sizes on these two phones. On top of that, both displays offer high refresh rates, which will drain the battery even quicker.
Google did include fast charging on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, 18W charging, to be exact. On top of that, you also have access to Qi wireless charging. That will not be much of a consolation for most people, as we’re not expecting those batteries to provide plenty of juice for the two devices. Let’s hope Google managed to do some software voodoo as far as battery life is concerned.
Stereo speakers are here, but a 3.5mm headphone jack is not
Both the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL offered stereo speakers, and the Pixel 4 series continues that tradition. The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL have two stereo speakers, one above the display, and one on the bottom. Google did not share much info on them, but we’re expecting two solid stereo speakers, same as on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, even though they’re not both front-facing.
What the Pixel 4 and 4 XL do not have, however, is a 3.5mm headphone jack. Truth be said, very few people expected that to be included, as it was not a part of the Pixel 3 or 3 XL either. The Pixel 3a series did include an audio jack, so… there was some hope, until now. You can still use a dongle, just plug it into a Type-C port on the bottom, and you’ll be good to go.
Active Edge is still a thing
The so-called “Active Edge” feature was a part of the Pixel 3 series, and the same is the case with the Pixel 4 series. This feature essentially allows you to squeeze the sides of the phone in order to trigger a Google Assistant. No, you will not accidentally do that, as a specific amount of pressure is required for it to activate.
The best thing about Active Edge is that you can adjust its sensitivity to suit your needs. If you’re not using Google Assistant for some reason, well, you can remap Active Edge to activate something else. For example, it can serve as a great camera app shortcut, or something of the sort.
Facial scanning replaces a fingerprint scanner
The Pixel 3 series smartphones had capacitive fingerprint scanners on the back. Well, the Pixel 4 series not only doesn’t have a capacitive fingerprint scanner, but it doesn’t have fingerprint scanners period.
Google has opted to remove a fingerprint scanner from both of these devices, and rely on advanced facial scanning instead. Facial scanning on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL is boosted by Motion Sense.
Google’s Motion Sense, which we’ll talk about soon, actually helps the Pixel 4 to unlock your phone faster. Thanks to Motion Sense, the Pixel 4 will know when you’re near, and will prepare the camera to scan your face. Google didn’t really go into detail on facial scanning.
Titan M module & Pixel Neural Core
The Titan M module was a part of the Pixel 3 series, and it makes a comeback here as well. This is an enterprise-grade security chip that has been custom-built. It is supposed to secure your most sensitive on-device data, and OS as well. It comes integrated into Verified Boot, which is Google’s secure boot process.
Pixel Neural Core is a new addition to Google’s Pixel smartphones. Pixel Neural Core is basically here to replace the Visual Core that was available beforehand. This chip is all about photography. To cut the long story short, it will help the phone provide the best possible shots, as it is in charge of processing images. It uses neural network techniques in order to process images. This is where Google’s camera voodoo will take place.
Motion Sense is yet another addition to the Pixel 4 series, something we haven’t seen before… at least not on Pixel phones. Motion Sense is a fancy name for air gestures that Google implemented here, though Motion Sense has other uses. Those air gestures are more advanced than they were back when Samsung was doing them, though. Google refers to them as “Quick Gestures”.
This whole feature comes from Google’s “Project Soli”, as the Pixel 4 phones incorporate the so-called “Soli” chip. Motion Sense allows you to pause a song, switch between songs, and trigger various other actions using air motions. This is supposed to make it easy to use your phone while your hands are dirty, or wet… or while you’re driving and you’re not feeling confident messing with the phone (though you should not interact with your phone in any way while you’re driving). This feature does seem gimmicky, and most people will probably never use it, but it’s here, and it will probably work better than any other air gestures that you’ve used.
Motion Sense can sense that you’re about to interact with the phone. It can prepare a camera to scan your face before you touch the device, for example. It can also lower the volume of your alarm clock if it senses that you’re reaching for it. These are just some examples, that radar chip on the inside of the Pixel 4 seems to be quite capable.
Motion Sense doesn’t work in some markets
Leaks have been saying that Motion Sense will not work in some regions, and Google just confirmed it. Google has confirmed that Motion Sense is functional in the US, Canada, Singapore, Taiwan, and ‘most European countries’. The company said that it is not functional in Japan. So, pretty much every Pixel 4 phone will ship with such functionality, it may not work for you if you’re live outside confirmed regions.
Android 10 in its pure form
Google had started rolling out Android 10 to Pixel devices at the beginning of September. Well, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL come equipped with that OS as well, but with some extra features. Some of those features we’ve already mentioned, as they are hardware-related. Motion Sense is a good example.
Most of the features in Android 10 for Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL will be the same as for other Pixel phones, though. You will be getting a system-wide dark theme on the Pixel 4 series, while some new privacy features as well. Pixel Themes are something new, though, that we haven’t seen on previous phones. Pixel Themes will roll out to previous devices, though, in case you were wondering. This feature provides you more ways to customize your device’s software.
Fabric cases are available for both Pixel 4 smartphones
As expected, Google also announced some cases for the Pixel 4 phones. Pixel users are probably quite used to Fabric cases at this point. If you’re one of those users, you’ll be glad to hear that Fabric Cases have made a comeback.
Google has announced Fabric Cases for the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL in four colors, Black, Blue, Red and Gray. Google, of course, has some fancy names for these cases, so they’re called Just Black, Blue-ish, Could be Coral and Sorta Smoky. A single fabric case for the Pixel 4 and 4 XL is priced at $40.
Pixel 4 colors & pricing
The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL handsets come in three color variants. The devices are available in Just Black, Clearly White, and Oh So Orange color variants. Google referred to the ‘Oh So Orange’ model as ‘limited edition model’. In all three instances, the sides are black, as is the camera module on the back. The difference is visible on the back panel, and the power key.
|Google Pixel 4||$799 (64GB)|
|October 24||October 15|
|Google Pixel 4 XL||$899 (64GB)|
|October 24||October 15|
Both Pixel 4 devices come in two variants. The Pixel 4 with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage is priced at $799, while that same RAM model with 128GB costs $899. In the case of the Pixel 4 XL, you can choose between 64GB and 128GB storage options as well, while both of those options have 6GB of RAM. Those two variants of the Pixel 4 XL are priced at $899 and $999, respectively.
Other ‘Made by Google’ October 15 announcements: