As they appear to do year after year, Google-branded smartphones are selling. At least, as far as we can tell. The Google Pixel 4 and Google Pixel 4 XL are in short supply or backordered via various sales channels, which leads us to ponder whether or not people care about critical things such as battery life.
In Android Authority’s review of the Pixel 4, we noted that battery life was well below expectations. We weren’t alone. Nearly every site that reviewed the phone slammed it for struggling to reach dinnertime, let alone the end of the day. The Pixel 4 XL, with a slightly larger battery, did somewhat better. Even so, it doesn’t match the battery life of class-leading devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus and Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max.
As soon as the phones were announced, we knew battery life would be trouble. The smaller Pixel 4 ships with a 2,800mAh battery and the larger Pixel 4 XL ships with a 3,700mAh battery. Both of these have less capacity than many competing flagships. The Galaxy Note 10, for example, has a 3,500mAh battery and the Note 10 Plus has a 4,300mAh battery.
Our testing bore out the predictions.
Earlier this month Android Authority polled readers concerning the Pixel 4 devices and the results were fairly predictable. Of those who responded, 18.7% said they’d buy the Pixel 4, 22.32% said they’d buy the Pixel 4 XL, 24.48% said they’d wait for reviews, while a whopping 35% said no way Jose.
Buying it anyway
Google itself lists shipping dates of one to three weeks for the Pixel 4, depending on the exact variant. Amazon.com also lists various shipping dates, ranging from late November to early December. The Oh So Orange variant? It ships one one to three months. Either Google stock is far more limited than Google initially implied, or people really love orange.
Android Authority called several carrier stores today to see what local demand was like. According to several corporate-owned Verizon Wireless and AT&T shops in Northern New Jersey, the carriers sold “a lot” of them over the initial launch weekend. That’s not a representative sample, and it is certainly not a scientific poll, but local Best Buy and carrier shops were limited to just a few units each, with only a couple left in stock across a dozen stores as of the morning of October 28.
All this begs us to ask: Does battery life matter or doesn’t it? Sure, the Pixel 4 takes great photos — especially of stars — and it runs pure Android with the promise of future system and security updates. The hardware is decent-looking, and the 90Hz display is nice, too.
But if your phone is dead before the end of the day, aren’t all those points moot? Readers once told us that battery life is the most important aspect of any phone. Based on what limited information we have concerning initial sales, that doesn’t necessarily seem to be the case.