A diagram of the Pixel 4
|Compatible networks||GSM/EDGE, UMTS/HSPA+, CDMA EVDO Rev A, WCDMA, LTE, LTE Advanced|
|First released||United States|
October 24, 2019
H: 147.1 mm (5.79 in)
W: 68.8 mm (2.71 in)
D: 8.2 mm (0.32 in)
Pixel 4 XL:
H: 160.4 mm (6.31 in)
W: 75.1 mm (2.96 in)
D: 8.2 mm (0.32 in)
|Operating system||Android 10|
|System on chip||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|CPU||Octa-core (1 × 2.84 GHz Kryo 485 Gold Prime & 3 × 2.42 GHz Kryo 485 Gold & 4 × 1.78 GHz Kryo 485 Silver)|
|Memory||6 GB LPDDR4X|
|Storage||64 GB or 128 GB|
|Display||Pixel 4: 5.7 in (140 mm) FHD+ 1080p P-OLED at 444 ppi, 2280 × 1080 pixel resolution (19:9)|
Pixel 4 XL: 6.3 in (160 mm) QHD+ 1440p P-OLED at 537 ppi, 3040 × 1440 pixel resolution (19:9)
Both displays have Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and a dynamic 90 Hz refresh rate
|Rear camera||12.2 MP (1.4 μm) with f/1.7 lens, 28 mm (wide), 1/2.55" + 16 MP (1.0 μm) with f/2.4 lens, 48 mm (telephoto), Dual Pixel PDAF, optical and electronic image stabilization, 1.7x optical zoom, 8x zoom, Dual-LED flash, Live HDR+, panorama, 1080p at 30/60/120 fps, 4K at 30 fps|
|Front camera||8 MP with f/2.0 lens, 22 mm (ultra wide, 90°), 1.22 μm, 1080p at 30 fps, Auto-HDR + ToF camera|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz + 5.0 GHz 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0 + LE, NFC, GPS (GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou), eSIM capable|
|Website||Google Pixel 4|
Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are Android smartphones from the Google Pixel product line, serving as successors to the Pixel 3. The phones were officially announced on October 15, 2019 and were released in the United States on October 24, 2019.
In the United States, the Pixel 4 is the first Pixel phone to be offered for sale by all major wireless carriers at launch. Previous flagship Pixel models had launched as exclusives to Verizon and Google Fi; the midrange Pixel 3a was additionally available from Sprint and T-Mobile, but not AT&T, at its launch. As with all other Pixel releases, Google is offering unlocked U.S. versions through its website.
Design and hardware
The Pixel 4 and 4 XL are constructed using an aluminum frame and Gorilla Glass 5. The devices are available in Just Black, Clearly White, and Oh So Orange colors, with the white and orange models having a matte, "soft touch" glass finish, and the black model having a glossy finish. The power button is finished in a contrasting color and made from plastic.
The USB-C connector at the bottom of the device is used for charging and audio output, though neither USB-C headphones nor a USB-C to 3.5 mm jack adapter are included in the box. Both devices have stereo speakers, but unlike the Pixel 3, only one of the speakers is front-firing, with the other speaker located next to the USB-C port. Neither model includes a fingerprint reader: facial recognition (using a dot projector, infrared emitters and cameras along the top of the device) is the only biometric authentication method offered by the Pixel 4.
Both models use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 system-on-chip (consisting of eight Kryo 485 CPU cores, an Adreno 640 GPU and a Hexagon 690 DSP), with 6 GB of LPDDR4X RAM. Models are available with 64 or 128 GB of non-expandable internal storage. Battery sizes differ, with the Pixel 4 using a 2800 mAh cell and the Pixel 4 XL using a 3700 mAh cell. Both are capable of fast-charging at up to 18 W, and support Qi wireless charging. Like their predecessors, the phones have a water protection rating of IP68 under IEC standard 60529.
The Pixel 4 features an OLED display (manufactured by Samsung) with HDR support, that operates at a refresh rate of up to 90 Hz (the refresh rate dynamically adjusts depending on content to preserve battery life). Both models use a wider 19:9 aspect ratio, with the Pixel 4 using a 5.7-inch (140 mm) 1080p panel, and the 4 XL using a 6.3-inch (160 mm) 1440p panel. Unlike the Pixel 3 XL, the Pixel 4 XL does not have a notch at the top of the display.
The Pixel 4 includes dual rear-facing cameras located within a raised square module. It houses a wide 28 mm 77° f/1.7 lens with a 12.2-megapixel sensor, and a second telephoto 48 mm f/2.4 lens with a 16-megapixel sensor. It can record video at 4K resolution, but can only do so at 30 fps whereas most competitors support 60 fps. In a tweet, Google stated that "We find that the majority of users stick with 1080p, so we focus our energy on improving our quality in this mode, versus enabling a 4k 60fps mode that could use up to half a gigabyte of storage every minute". Google claims the Pixel 4 can capture 8x zoom at near-optical quality. They are accompanied by Google Camera 7.1 with software enhancements, including Live HDR+ with dual exposure controls, improved Night Sight with Astrophotography mode and improved Portrait Mode with more realistic Bokeh. It includes a single ultra wide (90°) front-facing camera with an 8-megapixel sensor, unlike the Pixel 3 which included ultra wide (97°) and wide (75°) front-facing cameras, both of which also had 8-megapixel sensors. The Pixel 4's astrophotography mode is able to stack together 16 exposures, each with an aperture time of 15 seconds.
The Pixel 4 marks the introduction of Motion Sense, a radar-based gesture recognition system. It is based on the Project Soli technology developed by Google ATAP as an alternative to light-based systems such as infrared. Motion Sense can be used for detecting a user's proximity to the device to activate the always-on display or power the screen on, and waving gestures that can be used in supported apps (such as skipping tracks in the music player, and an interactive Pokémon demo app).
Due to its use of 60 GHz frequency bands, Google was required to obtain specific regulatory approval for the radar system in all countries that the Pixel 4 is being sold. As such, the feature is geoblocked if the device is detected to be in an unsupported country. On launch, Google stated that support for the feature was currently limited to Australia, Canada, "most European countries", Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States, but that Japan was "coming soon". Google stated that it had no plans to sell the Pixel 4 in India, with the company officially stating a preference to continue marketing the Pixel 3a in the region; media outlets noted that civilian use of the 60 GHz frequency is prohibited in India, unlike in the U.S. and some other countries, where it is considered unlicensed spectrum.
The Pixel 4 ships with Android 10 and Google Camera 7.1. The devices feature several features powered by their Pixel Neural Core (a successor to the Pixel Visual Core): in addition to its existing use for image processing, it is used by the new Recorder app (a voice recorder with live transcription), and the "new" Google Assistant, which contains enhancements to allow for increased client-side recognition of commands that are local to the device (rather than querying Google servers).
After Google demonstrated astrophotography sample photos, a scene of San Francisco with the moon blown out and the woods underexposed was shown. Marc Levoy explained that the difference in light between the moon and woods was too significant, requiring 19 stops of dynamic range which no phone or DSLR camera was currently capable of performing. He reaffirmed Google's commitment to improving the camera with software updates (a signature of the Pixel line) and said to stay tuned.
The Pixel 4 received an overall score of 112 from DXOMARK, a 10-point improvement over its predecessor. It had a photo score of 117, a video score of 101, and a selfie score of 92. The camera was particularly praised for its performance in low light situations.
The Pixel 4 and 4 XL received mixed reviews from critics, with praise going to the photography capabilities of the devices, the move to 6 GB of RAM from 4 GB, and the 90 Hz refresh rate screen, but were criticized for their poor battery life (especially on the smaller Pixel 4), the low amount of non-expandable storage, the lack of an ultra-wide angle camera lens, the removal of the fingerprint sensor in favor of the secure Face Unlock, the lack of 4K 60 fps video recording, the lack of headphones or an adapter in the box, the Motion Sense system's poor detection, and the high price compared to other flagship smartphones. Google was also criticized for not providing unlimited uncompressed photo and video cloud storage like its Pixel predecessors had.
Ars Technica gave the device a mixed pre-release review, noting that the etched finish of the orange and white models felt stronger than that of the Pixel 3 without compromising its "soft" and "grippy" feel, but that the screen bezels looked "lopsided". The Motion Sense system was panned for its reliance on hand waving gestures that were "so big that it's a cumbersome, tiring, annoying thing to do." This was contrasted with early demonstrations of the technology being able to detect "sub-millimeter motions at high speed and accuracy", noting that Google's admitted need to downsize the radar chip in order to fit into a smartphone may have compromised its capabilities.
- The Pixel 4 does not require eye contact with the phone when using facial recognition to unlock the device, raising privacy concerns since the device could be unlocked even if the user's eyes were closed. Google later stated that a security update that added an option to enable eye detection when unlocking the device with facial recognition would be available "in the coming months".
- Some users are reporting that the Pixel 4 will start lagging while opening apps or recording video, after some days of use.
- In certain lighting conditions, the Pixel 4's white balance "fix" can result in photos with inaccurate color representation. This can be partially fixed by exporting a RAW photo file then converting it to a different file type.
- Videos recorded with third-party apps like Instagram and Snapchat have odd clicking noises in the background.
- The Pixel 4 automatically lowers the display's refresh rate to 60 Hz if the screen brightness is set below 75 percent. Google released a fix for this in the November 2019 update.
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- Google Pixel 4 buyers won’t get unlimited photo uploads at original quality
- The Pixel 4 won’t have free, unlimited full-res Google Photos storage
- Welch, Chris (October 17, 2019). "Google's Pixel 4 face unlock has one major privacy weakness". The Verge. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
- Bohn, Dieter (October 20, 2019). "Google to update Pixel 4 face unlock with eye detection 'in the coming months`". The Verge. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
- Oh So Slow: Google Pixel 4 XL shown to be a laggy mess
- Pixel 4 showing some signs of system, app lags after a few days
- Schoon, Ben (October 28, 2019). "Pixel 4 camera white-balance algorithm can cause stark color differences by mistake". 9to5google. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
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