Google Pixel 4 vs Pixel 4 XL 1

The Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL are great phones, but they aren’t perfect. Just like their predecessors, they have their share of problems that need to be addressed. This post will guide you through the biggest ones.

We wrote this post for two reasons. The first is to help Pixel 4 owners solve the issues they are experiencing with their phones, or at least make them aware of them. The second is to inform potential buyers of the Pixel 4 issues they may encounter, which will help them decide whether or not to even get one of Google’s flagships. Let’s dive in.

1. Pixel 4 face unlock issue

Motion Sense light 4

Just a few days after its launch, a major security issue with the Pixel 4 has been discovered. Users can unlock their Pixel 4 phones via the face unlock technology even when their eyes are closed. Yikes!

This problem allows attackers or authorities such as police to easily gain access to the info on one’s phone. All they have to do is raise the Pixel 4 towards a person’s face when they are asleep or restrained to get the job done.

What to do: Fortunately, a fix is on the way. Google said it’s working on an eye detection toggle for the Pixel 4’s face unlock feature, which should be released via a software update in “the coming months.” So for now, there’s not much else to do about this issue other than to wait until the update hits your device. We’ll be sure to let you know when that happens.

2. White balance problem

Users have reported a problem with the Pixel 4’s camera. The issue was first spotted by a Redditor, who took a picture in his living room while the Philips Hue light bulbs were set to red. The Pixel 4’s camera tried to auto-correct the room’s white balance and instead of creating a more natural-looking photo, it changed the color from bright red to stark yellow — see images above. This is a big issue given the fact a lot of people buy the Pixel 4 for its camera alone.

What to do: Google has apparently already fixed the problem with the November security patch. So whether you already own the Pixel 4 or plan on buying it, make sure to head into the settings and install the latest updates available.

3. Refresh rate

Google Pixel 4 XL home screen standing up 5

The high 90Hz refresh rate is one of the flagship features of the device. However, it turns out that this refresh rate is only available when the screen brightness is set to 75% or more. As soon as you dip below 75%, the refresh rate goes down to a more traditional 60Hz. Google likely implemented this measure to save battery life, but it’s not something that most users are happy about.

Google seemed to have fixed this problem with the November security patch, at least to a point. It now appears that the 90Hz refresh rate is turned on at all times on the Pixel 4 XL, regardless of the brightness level. Things are different for the Pixel 4, though. The display goes down to 60Hz when the brightness dips below 42%, which isn’t great, but it’s still better than the previous 75%.

What to do: If you’ve been experiencing this issue and want to solve it, all you have to do is head into the settings of the device and install the latest update.

4. Video recording issue

It appears that videos recorded through third-party apps like Instagram and Snapchat include weird popping/clicking sounds for some users. The problem doesn’t seem to affect every Pixel 4 phone out there, however. You can check out what the issue sounds like in action in the video above, which was recorded by Twitter users @604kev and shared by Android Police.

It’s worth noting again that the issues only occur when recording videos through third-party apps. We haven’t heard of anyone experiencing it while shooting video using the stock camera app on the Pixel 4, which is good news.

What to do: The Google team is already aware of the issue, saying they are working on a fix that will be rolled out in “future updates.” So for now, all you can do is wait. The good news is that since this is a software and not a hardware problem, it can be easily fixed.

5. Pixel 4 green screen problem

Google new phone standing on rock 14

A Redditor shared a video of his Pixel 4 with a faulty green screen, which appeared after just an hour of use. It’s a hardware problem, so he had to get the phone replaced. We did some digging and didn’t find many cases like this one, which means the issue isn’t widespread. The Redditor claims the phone was on a bench when it started flashing, after which the display turned green. You can check out the video below.

Green screen after 1 hour of use from r/GooglePixel

What to do: Again, this seems like an isolated case, so it shouldn’t discourage you from buying a Pixel 4. But if you do come across this issue, just take the phone back to the shop for a replacement. There’s no software update that can fix this problem.

6. Motion Sense issue

Google Pixel 4 vs Google Pixel 4 XL displays on angle

The Pixel 4 and 4 XL come with a feature called Motion Sense, which is powered by a Soli radar unit that’s positioned just to the right of the earpiece speaker. It allows you to skip songs and snooze alarms, among other things, just by swiping your hand above the phone.

We’ve heard reports of users complaining about the feature, saying it doesn’t always work as advertised. A Redditor shared that after applying a screen protector, the feature stopped working altogether, despite the fact it did not cover up the Soli radar. However, the issue doesn’t seem to be present on every device, as some users report that it works more or less perfectly.

We had mixed results when reviewing the latest Pixel phones. Motion Sense worked around 95% percent of the time on the Pixel 4, but it barely worked at all on the XL model. Our thoughts are that you definitely shouldn’t buy the Pixel 4 for this feature alone.

What to do: In case Motion Sense barely works on your Pixel 4 (less than 50% of the time) and the software is up to date, it’s more likely that it’s a hardware than a software problem. In this case, we advise you to ask for a replacement.

7. Pixel 4 app login problem

Google Pixel 4 XL bottom bezel and app dock 10

The Pixel 4 phones rely on 3D facial recognition and don’t have a fingerprint scanner on board, which is a problem. The reason why is that a lot of apps give you the option to sign in using your fingerprint. And since the Pixel 4 doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner, you may have to use a PIN number instead, which feels like a step backward.

Hopefully, things will change in the future. If more phones will sport 3D facial recognition, we can expect developers to add the option of signing into an app using your beautiful face. But that will take time.

What to do: Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do at this point to solve this problem, which may or may not be a big one depending on personal preference. You’ll just have to sit tight until app developers start adding facial recognition as an option for signing into their apps.


These are the biggest Pixel 4-related issues we’ve come across, but we might have missed a few. If you’re a Pixel 4 owner and are experiencing problems with the device, feel free to share your story in the comments below.

Comments
Read comments