Reviews

Review: Google Pixel 4

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After my beloved Samsung S7 finally took its last breath a few days ago, I have been in the market for a new phone for my wife and I. Zoe, an avid iPhone lover, gradually lowered her defenses of Apple products enough for me to swoop in and plant some Android seeds; today, my friends, I have triumphantly converted her to the Google Pixel 4.

While I originally planned to purchase the S10, I couldn’t pass up the ‘buy one, get one free’ deal Verizon was offering. So, I picked up two Google Pixel 4’s and a sweet bundle deal which included two screen protectors, OtterBox cases, and a wireless charging stand to help my wife adapt to the world of having to do things with only one hand since there is always a baby in the other.

Before I get into the review of the phone, let me reinstate that I was using a much older Samsung S7 before the switch; due to this, my review of the Pixel 4 might be somewhat one-sided.

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The Pixel 4

Released only a few days ago on October 24th, Google’s Pixel 4 has held my attention since I first heard of its design changes, performance figures, and new features. As a lover of technology, I will mainly detail the tech specs of the device, with a short review of each section.

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Tech Specs

Display

Fullscreen 5.7″ (144.7 mm) display, FHD+ flexible OLED at 444 PPI, 19:9, Ambient EQ, Smooth Display (up to 90 Hz), Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5, Always-on display, Now Playing, 100,000:1 super contrast ratio, Full 24-bit depth of 16.77 million colors, True black level, HDR Support (UHDA certification)

As you can see, the Pixel 4 offers some surprising internals which compares to other high-end models out there. The size and quality of the display have increased to a 5.7-inch 90Hz OLED display (Pixel 3 used a 5.5-inch LCD), and offers a resolution of 2,280 by 1,080, for 444 pixels per inch (PPI). I must say, the color depth and range are truly a wonder to behold. Thanks to Smooth Display, Google’s 90Hz variable refresh rate, mindlessly scrolling through social media apps can be performed without hesitation, almost to the point where my eyes can’t keep up with the dank memes. Oddly, in my testing, I have found that Smooth Display seems to only remain activated when the screen brightness is set above 75%; however, this isn’t too drastic of a downside as I tend to run it above 75% when I am gaming or doing any kind of resource-intensive activity. For a quick comparison, the iPhone 11 only offers a 1792×828 PPI, 60Hz refresh rate display, so yeah, the Pixel 4 wins that fight. Similar to other flagship models, the Pixel 4 is designed with Gorilla Glass 5, and an IP68 waterproof rating.

Battery

2800 mAh, 18 W/2 A USB Type-C charger, 18W fast charging, Qi-certified wireless charging

While the 2800mAH battery is actually less powerful than the 2,915mAh battery in the Pixel 3, the difference isn’t noticeable, as the Pixel 4 features a power-efficient chipset and Android 10. The Pixel 4’s battery pales in comparison to my older S7’s 3000mAh, but the Pixel 4 seems to only consume a fraction of the energy the S7 did on a normal basis.

Memory & Storage

6 GB LPDDR4x, 64 GB

Now, I know that I could have upgraded to the 128GB XL model and believe me, I thought about it. With the Pixel 4, you can’t add additional storage via a microSD card, thus instantly becoming my first complaint about the phone. However, my S7 had 32 GB and I never ran into any storage problems, so doubling that amount should work just fine for me. For my wife (who takes about a thousand baby pictures a day), that 64GB might not last long, but thankfully, the Pixel 4 comes with three months of Google One.

Processors

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, 2.84 GHz + 1.78 GHz, 64-bit Octa-core, Adreno 640, Titan M Security Module, Pixel Neural Core

Finally, the bread and butter of a smartphone, the processor. Coming from an outdated Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 is quite the upgrade. With a 2GB of RAM increase from the Pixel 3, the Pixel 4 provides instant loading screens and app usage. The performance of the Pixel 4 seems a tab bit less than other high-end models when comparing benchmark tests, however, the inclusion of the Pixel Neural Core was very attractive to me. Sitting alongside the Pixel 4’s processor is a little chip which runs Google’s machine learning workloads, including image processing, transcription capabilities, and voice recognition. Also, the Neural Core improves photography using Nigh Sight and dual exposure adjustments. Google Assistant, utilizing the Neural Core, is probably my favorite feature of the phone, taking me one step closer to living that Star Trek life.

Rear Camera

16 MP, 1.0 μm pixel width, Autofocus with phase detection, Optical + electronic image stabilization, Spectral + flicker sensor, ƒ/2.4 aperture, 52° field of view

12.2 MP, 1.4 μm pixel width, Autofocus with dual pixel phase detection, Optical + electronic image stabilization, ƒ/1.7 aperture, 77° field of view

Front Camera

8 MP, 1.22 μm pixel width, ƒ/2.0 aperture, Fixed focus, 90° field of view, NIR flood emitter, NIR dot projector, 2 NIR cameras

Video

Rear Camera

1080p @ 30 FPS, 60 FPS, 120 FPS, 720p @ 240 FPS, 4K @ 30 FPS

Front Camera:

1080p @ 30 FPS

Google Pixel phones are known for their cameras, and the Pixel 4 has not fallen far from the tree. On the back of the phone, a new square camera stack housing two sensors, hold a 12.2MP primary lens (optical (OIS) and electronic image stabilization (EIS) and a 16MP telephoto lens, with optical (OIS) and electronic image stabilization (EIS) as well. Using the Pixel Neural Core, the Astrophotography feature uses long exposures to capture images of the night sky (it is so cool). Compared to the Note10 and iPhone 11, I would say that the Pixel4’s cameras are more intuitive and sensitive to the surrounding environment.

Sensors

Active Edge, Proximity / Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer / Gyrometer, Magnetometer, Barometer, Android Sensor Hub, Sharp and textured haptics, Microphones, Motion Sense

Charging

USB-C 18 W adapter with USB-PD 2.0, 18 W fast charging

SIMs

Single Nano-SIM, eSIM

Wireless and Location

Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 + LE (HD codecs: AptX, AptX HD, LDAC), NFC, Google Cast, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo

Network

Up to 5xCA, LAA, DL 4×4 MIMO, CAT 18 up to 1.2 Gbps download, CAT 13 150 Mbps upload

AR/VR

ARCore

Summary

Although my time with the Pixel 4 has been short, I can honestly say that I absolutely love the device. I was timid switching to a brand that I haven’t used before, but as long as it was an Android-based model, I figured I would be in the clear; besides, it isn’t like Google is some no-name company. The Pixel 4 offers my wife and I a significant performance, storage, and photo quality improvement, and we get one of them for free. Paired with an unlimited data plan and some cool accessories, my initial terror I felt when my S7 died was quickly replaced with excitement.

The Android 10 operating system is simple to use, yet it took me some time to adapt to (no back button!) After I learned the general actions to navigate through different apps and pages, I found the finger gestures and movements to be elegant.

While I don’t ever have time anymore for gaming on a PC or console (that dad life), I do sometimes find time during a lunch break to play something on my phone. While I am into more RTS (real-time strategy) games like Command & Conquer: Rivals, to test the Pixel 4, I decided to put the phone to the test using the resource-intensive PUBG Mobile. Without a doubt, the 90 Hz refresh rate and increased RAM enabled the game to run without lag or interruption, offering a seamless gaming experience.

So far, as stated above, my only complaint is the lack of the option to increase the storage, but honestly, the Google Pixel 4 has met my often-unrealistic expectations in every category and greatly exceeded them in many others.

For more information on the Google Pixel 4, check out their website here.

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