Google Pixel 4 + 4 XL review: This fun won’t last

by birtanpublished on September 9, 2020

Google's approach to smartphones has always been unconventional the pixel series is less about the chips and bits that are under the hood and more about what the phone can actually do for you if you view the pixel for in terms of its spec sheet and price tag alone you

Might think these are not particularly compelling phones but these are pixels you're buying therefore things like a slick software experience fast updates and a magical camera in that sense the pixel form pixel for Excel deliver on

The same promise that every other device in the series yeah at the same time the pixel falls greatest weaknesses are rooted in Hardware fumbles and three is on for the first pixels that's a hard pill to swallow so if you couldn't

Already tell this video like these phones is a bit of a mixed bag I'm Alex Pimentel at Central and this is our review of the Google pixel 4 and pixel 4 XL let's start with something I really love about these phones Google's

Absolutely nailed the design of the pixel 4 Series the old two-tone pixel design language is gone and instead Google has gone all-in on Matt's assuming you go for the vastly superior white and orange versions anyway between

The grippy sidewalls and a luxuriously soft matte back again assuming you go for the orange or white which you absolutely should the pixel 4 is the antidote to the shiny slippery finger proof magnets you'll see from other

Manufacturers it's crafted from metal and glass but neither the back and all the sides really feel it expect them to in fact these are probably the least finger printing phones I've used in years we'll see how well the matte

Finish lasts over time in terms of dings and scratches but for now I'm enjoying the radically different aesthetic at these phones sure it is a rounded rectangle with a bigger square camera bump around the

Back but in person the feel is very different to Apple's iPhone 11 if for some reason you do want a glossy back then the black picks will for will have you covered otherwise the brilliant white and orange flavors will give your

Phone a look and feel quite unlike anything else the speed and performance of the pixel fours is mostly solid it's mostly the usual stuff you'd expect from a late 2019 Android phone snapdragon 855 + 6 gigs of ram 6 is a little on the low

Side where most rivals are offering 8 or even 12 but I've yet to run into any multitasking issues like atom the pixel 3 XL with Google's speedy software a fast refresh rate and plenty of CPU grunt pixel 4 is among the fastest

Android phones out there hopefully unlike some previous pixels it'll stay that way and although it's not exactly perfect I am slowly coming to terms with Android tens new swipe e gesture navigation the physics of which

Have been tweaked in these new phones what's more problematic is the missed 64 gigs of base storage in both pixel four models when pretty much everyone except Apple offers more at this price point most Android phone makers back in 128 or

Even 256 in their flagships so far after a week I'm almost at 50% used on this 64 gigabyte pixel 4 XL and the storage constraint pretty much guarantees that we'll have to clear out photos every couple of months we're still the free

Full sized backup promotion for Google photos extensive previous pixel owners doesn't apply to the pixel 4 despite the hardware disappointment of the pixel 4's internal storage Google is highlighting a trio of key hardware upgrades around

The front of the new pixels the first is the new 90 Hertz panel which allows the pixel to ramp up the display smoothness in certain content much like the 1 + 7 Pro in 70 series second the new face unlock system is the new way to unlock

Your pixel fast convenient and extremely easy to set up and lastly the much-hyped motion sense feature brings Google's project soli radar gestures to smartphones for the first time enabling wavy gestures to

Control alarms and music the face unlock setup combined with motion sense is the main reason for the pixel force hefty for head instead of any of the other front camera solutions we've seen Google goes notch lists with a larger top bezel

While I do miss the rear fingerprints counter the pixel 3 particularly because of the handy swipe down gesture short courtesy notifications the pixel force face unlock is spectacularly fast and reliable as well as being easier and

Less repetitive to set up than a fingerprint scanner you only have one face after all I've also encountered no issues using it either in very bright or very dark environments it's worth pointing out the pixel force face unlock

Will still work even if your eyes are closed let's in stark contrast of Huawei's new face unlock system in the mate 30 Pro which requires not only for your eyes to be open but has an extra option to require eye contact on the

Screen as well what's more pixel 4 owners are going to be waiting for many of the secure apps a fingerprint to be updated to fully support the pixels new biometrics in many banking apps for example you might

Need to use a pin or even a full password which is just a bunch of extra hassle anyway part of the reason the pixel force face unlock is so fast is because motion sensors radar magic can detect your hand approaching and

Activate the camera array faster it's a fantastic use for this technology but as for the other places it's used well it's not great at all right now very few apps support motion sense in google play music for example the wave gesture to

Skip tracks is very finicky it works best with your hand at a right angle to display but even then it's nowhere near consistent enough sometimes it'll be great and then the next moment no matter what you try no amount of

Waving will make it work overall for as much as motion sense influences the design of these new pixels it feels like a spectacular feature missed right now this was a much hyped function of the phone in the run-up to launch and now

Having lived with it for over a week I have zero enthusiasm for it the look feel and sound of this his pixels are better than ever the display while not quite as bright as Samsung's top-end 60 Hertz panels has pleasing colors and

Good daylight visibility and it now features Google's ambient EQ technology to bounce the white level of the screen to your environmental lighting for a more natural look plus if you hated the three excels big honking notch well

Obviously that's gone away giving this year's pixels a more uniform look the stereo speakers of previous pixel generations have also been retired but the new bottom firing cans paired with the earpiece tweeter provide ample

Volume bass and clarity and of course these are pixel phones with a haptic feedback is excellent sharp and responsive there are nice little haptic cues for things like a successful face unlock and a drag down on the

Notification shade Google's excellent software experience helps here to the mix are four builds on what we've already seen in Android 10 on earlier pixels with more on device smarts pretty Google assistant runs

Directly on the phone itself thanks the new pixel neural core that means it's much faster of voice recognition since nothing needs to go back to the cloud a couple of big caveats here though it won't work if you have a G suite account

On your device even if your main account is a normal Google account and right now it's only available in US English so if you're in another region you'll have to change your language to use it the look of the pixel UI hasn't changed a bunch

But there's now a loadout of new live wallpapers plus some classics from the pixel back catalogue their new theming options to giving pixel owners the chance to change fonts icon frames and accent colors and the

New pixel safety app handles your emergency contacts medical info and controls the new car crash detection feature that's not offer in some countries wife transcription is a feature that was teased as part of

Android 10 but it's live down the pixel for for the first time that's thanks to the same on device voice recognition magic that enables the new Google assistant it's found in the volume menu and works with literally anything that

Makes sound on your device though once again it's us English only at the moment it's a huge deal for anyone with hearing difficulties or anyone response to watch a video without turning up the volume this tech is also put to use in the

Recorder app which can automatically transcribe speech again only in US English I'm sure most pixel 4 owners won't ever need to use this but for people like journalists or college students it could be game changer only

Issue to be aware of is both the recorder and live transcription can be pretty battery intensive even on the pixel for Excel through a 40-minute meeting you might expect to burn around 10% of your battery and that brings us

To the pixel falls biggest overall weakness battery life a lot of people saw this coming on the battery specs first leaked but yeah turns out 2800 milliamp hours doesn't get you very far on a flagship phone with all these

Whiz-bang features even the larger pixel 4 XL which I've been using for most of our a few period fails to improve on the battery life of last year's 3 XL and with heavier use can deplete alarmingly quickly with moderate use and some

Features like smooth display and motion sensor turned off I can coax 5 hours of screen on time of the 4 XL / around 15 hours of total use but if you want to use these features there is an undeniable battery hit battery anxiety

Has definitely been a thing for me my week or so with these two phones hopefully some of this stuff can be addressed in a software update though I'm not holding my breath meanwhile both pixel support 10 watt

Wireless charging or 18 watt wire charging of a USB PD 18 watts looks pretty sluggish next to the 35 or 45 were offering some one plus and Samsung nevertheless it's not really slow enough to complain about and when it comes to

Wireless charging speed is less of a concern anyway the pixel camera has been a major attraction of the series since it debuted back in 2016 and photographic excellence is now an expectation of any new pixel despite the lack of an ultra

Wide camera which is increasingly seen as table stakes in a flagship phone the pixel Falls dual rear cameras nevertheless knock it out of the park there was one annoying downgrade this year though with Google moving to a

Single front-facing camera from the dual cameras of the pixel 3 the 90 degree lens splits the difference between the pixel 375 and 97 degree lenses and the quality's still superb though oddly autofocus has been removed presumably

There just wasn't enough space up there but this is a bit of a bummer for people like floggers you might want to use that autofocus feature nevertheless the rear camera setup which combines a 12 megapixel standard shooter with a 16

Megapixel telephoto is a phenomenal performer photos regularly have more fine detail and improved color clarity compared to the pixel 3 as well as improvements in the clarity of night shots in night sight mode everything you

Looked about earlier pixels cameras is better than ever in the pixel 4 with time and patience you can even take advantage of the new astrophotography feature on a clear night to bounce a view of the cosmos with more earthly

Scenery and since there's a telephoto lens now the pixel can zoom further than ever before technically it's only a 2 x lens but remember Google has its super a zoom magic from the pixel 3 which uses the movement of the lens to capture more

Detail than you get from a straight-up digital crop all of this combined with data from two lenses lets the pixel for produce surprisingly good looking shots at three times or five times along with legible pictures in nitesite mode all

The way up to eight times having recently used the Huawei make the deep rows three times optical zoom I have to say the pixel bore matches and sometimes even beats the performance of Huawei is offering and I almost always prefer the

Colors in a pixel shot compared to what I get out of a Samsung with Huawei phone anyway Google also takes advantage of the telephoto for even better portrait shots edge detection is much improved especially around hair and glasses and

Even though the pixel 3 took great portraits the 4 is undeniably a marked improvement pixel camera app has been overhauled to is predictive prompts to help you take better photos for example if you're taking a selfie you might see

Prompts to go for a higher angle in everyday photography framing hints will help you take a shot that's level with the ground or the horizon plus when you tap to focus now not only can you control the overall exposure but

You can also raise or lower the shadow exposure it's really useful in nighttime or high contrast shots so once again the main differentiator for a pixel phone is it's a camera ultimately I'm not too disappointed about the lack of an

Ultra-wide option so good is everything else this camera setup can pour the pixel foreign for Excel are both phones you have to compromise with you simply have to sacrifice long battery life and you're gonna overpay for the

Specs on offer in return you get killer cameras excellent hardware build and really good software it's definitely not a slam dunk though battery life is important as is value for money in terms of the former the gulf between pixel for

Battery life and what you get with say a note temp pro or make 30 pro is palpable at the same time it's disappointing to the new google assistant is so limited at launch being available only in one markets and at the time of recording and

Available if you're also using a g suite account on your phone motion sense also feels like a huge swing and a miss the failure rate is too high and the limited app support means it fails to justify the enormous impact it has on the design

Of these phones once again it comes down to hardware and software the ingredients for google's secret sauce have always been software smarts rather than Hardware grunt sometimes as with a pixel camera that pays off handsomely in other

Areas though like the battery it's easy to point to a deficiency in a spec sheet that makes the pixel for far less competitive in a really important aspect of the smartphone experience there are still things that only Google can do in

A smartphone and the pixel for builds on those unique strengths but at its heels the competition continues to nip Huawei's cameras compete googles in some areas and Apple offers a more diverse triple and set up with similar

Performance and both companies are getting better at camera performance quicker than Google's getting better at battery life if it continues at its current pace Google risks squandering its leading computational photography

And falling even further behind on battery diehard pixel fans will still love the pixel for hell eye Android nerd that I am really liked these phones having such lackluster battery life even after paying almost a thousand US

Dollars though is a tough ask and the same goes for the anemic face storage even if it is paired with an excellent camera and unique AI smarts after all does the icing matter at all if you don't get the cake right nevertheless if

You are a pixel fan who can deal with what is a quirky imperfect pair of phones you will undoubtedly find plenty to like that's it for now check it off full written review on android central.com and subscribe so you don't

Miss our future coverage here on youtube thanks for watching and I'll see you next time

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