It’s time to meet the new Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, which the company announced during its Made by Google event on Tuesday, October 15.
A bold new look, substantial upgrades to the camera, and a stunning screen. The Pixel 4 is fighting for your attention, and it’s increasingly looking like it deserves it. I spent some time with the phone at Google’s hardware event in New York City, and here’s what it’s like.
Dawn of a new design:-
The Pixel 4 looks like no other Pixel phone before it. That’s because the design team wanted to use the addition of a new lens as an opportunity for a complete redesign. How do I know this? I was able to interview two of the designers that worked on the Pixel 4, and they talked in detail about all the changes — you can read the in-depth story here.
Gone is the line separating the two textures typically found on Pixel phones. That means the Pixel 4, which comes in three colors (Oh So Orange, Really Black, and Clearly White), uses only one texture along its back. It’s matte glass on the white and orange models, and glossy glass on the black one.
What’s distinctive is the Pixel square, which is what the designers call the square camera module housing the dual cameras, as well as the black band around the edges of the phone. The outline nicely frames the phone’s rear design, while also hiding away components like the antenna bands and the speaker grill.
Radar upgrades: Face Unlock and Motion Sense:-
I’ve been dying to see a proper competitor to Apple’s Face ID on an Android phone, and it looks like Google has come through with Face Unlock. It’s everything I want my biometric authentication to be: fast and secure. It doesn’t just unlock your phone — you can use it to authenticate purchases on Google Play and to log into sensitive apps like the one for your bank.
In fact, it might even be a step ahead of Face ID. The sensors stowed into the thick bezel of the phone utilize Google’s Soli, a radar-based technology that can register 3D objects. These sensors help activate the Face Unlock sensors when the phone senses you reaching for it, priming them and making the unlocking experience dead fast.
A smooth screen:-
The Pixel 4 has a 5.7-inch screen, a small bump over the 5.5-inch Pixel 3, and the Pixel 4 XL has a 6.3-inch panel that’s similar in size as its predecessor. They’re OLED panels with Full HD+ and Quad HD+ resolutions, respectively. Better still, they both have a 90Hz refresh rate.
I always had trouble seeing the Pixel 3’s screen in direct sunlight, more so than other phones. At the event, I stood by the window, where the sun was beaming down on the screen. Hopefully, this remains the case as I continue to use the phone over the next few weeks.
Finally, a second lens:-
Google was dethroned as the camera king by Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro. It eked out not just in image quality, but also with camera versatility. Google is coming out swinging to win the title back with the Pixel 4, though. There’s finally a second, 16-megapixel telephoto lens accompanying the main 12-megapixel sensor.
It’s disappointing to see there’s no ultra-wide-angle lens, as found on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. An ultra-wide-angle lens would have offered a fresh perspective. That being said, the telephoto lens offers up crisp 2x optically-zoomed in shots, and Super Res Zoom continues to work here, improving digitally-zoomed in photos. Google even said it’s better to pinch in and zoom to take a closer shot, rather than cropping the image after the fact.
Android 10, next-gen Google Assistant:-
Google’s version of Android 10 is installed, and it’s one of the reasons to buy a Pixel phone. You get fast updates right as Google releases them for three years, and that includes monthly security patches to keep your phone secure. Android 10 isn’t a major update, but it adds a system-wide dark theme, a gesture navigation system, as well as improved transparency and control around apps requesting location data and access to other phone sensors. You can read about all the new features in our roundup.
The highlight is next-gen Google Assistant, which the company showed off at its developer conference back in May. The user interface looks better, but more importantly, Google is bringing Continued Conversation to Pixel 4, meaning you don’t need to keep saying the “Hey Google,” phrase.
Price and availability:-
The Pixel 4 is $799 and the Pixel 4 XL will set you back $899. Considering Apple lowered the price of its iPhone 11 this year from $750 to $699, it’s a bummer Google hasn’t done anything of the sort.
You can pre-order it now, but it’s available starting October 24 from Google, all the major U.S. carriers as well as from retailers like Best Buy.