Last year’s Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL leaked so much, we didn’t think any phone could leak more than that. We clearly spoke too soon. If you’ve been following the leaks and rumors over the past few months, you’re probably already familiar with Google’s new smartphones, the Google Pixel 4 and Google Pixel 4 XL. The company has finally announced the two smartphones at its Made By Google 2019 event, and we have all the details here.
Google Assistant, but make it faster
The new-and-improved Google Assistant is integrated deeply into the Pixel 4’s software, making for much quicker response times. Both new phones have an on-device version of Google’s language models that run in its data centers. This means Google Assistant interactions will take place on the device without the need to send out requests to Google’s data centers before receiving a response. Of course, there are limitations — for simple tasks like starting a timer, the Assistant will do that all on-device. For more complex things like asking about flight information or the weather, the Assistant will need to outsource that work to Google’s data centers.
The Assistant on Pixel 4 phones will now support continued conversations, which is a first for smartphones. This will let you ask a follow-up question to the Assistant without the need to pause to say another hotword.
The Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL run Android 10 out of the box. Not much has changed aesthetically, but there are a few new additions to this year’s Pixels. The Pixel Launcher now has a shortcut to pull down the notification shade with a swipe of your finger. There’s also a new Pixel Themes app that will let you choose your font, wallpaper, accent color, and more.
Google is also pre-installing a new Recorder app on the Pixels that will transcribe the audio from each voice recording and allow you to search for it. It seems quite handy.
Out of the box, the Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL come with three free months of Google One cloud storage for new members. Unfortunately, Google isn’t including free unlimited original quality photo backups to Google Photos like it did with the Pixel, Pixel 2, and Pixel 3.
Apparently, Google nailed the display on the Pixel 4 and 4 XL this year. DisplayMate has awarded Google an A+ rating and a Best Smartphone Display Award. The displays on the Pixel 4 and 4 XL are 90Hz displays — Google calls them Smooth Displays — and can be toggled between 60 and 90Hz in the settings menu. Displays with higher refresh rates have been growing in popularity lately, and we’re happy to see the new Google phones support the feature.
Swipe right with Motion Sense
The Pixel 4 and 4 XL, according to Google, have the fastest face unlock system on any smartphone. This is possible due to Google’s new motion-sensing Soli chip next to the front-facing camera sensor.
Google ditched the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor this year, and is instead including secure face recognition. The Pixel 4 phones come with two face unlock IR cameras, a dot projector, and a flood illuminator. These sensors are similar to what we’ve seen in devices like the iPhone 11 and LG G8. Using these sensors, the Pixel 4 will be able to create an accurate model of your face, verify that it’s you, and unlock your phone. What’s more, the Pixel 4’s Soli chip will proactively turn on the face unlock sensors to ensure you’re quickly able to get into your phone.
That’s not all Google’s motion-sensing Soli chip will be able to do. The Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL have a new feature called Motion Sense that will allow the phones to sense users’ motion. Using Motion Sense, users will be able to change a song, snooze alarms, and silence calls with a wave of their hand. Unfortunately, this feature is only coming to select countries.
The Pixel line has never been about top-tier specs
Elsewhere, the Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL share the same specs. The both have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC (unfortunately not the Snapdragon 855 Plus), 6GB of RAM (two more gigabytes than the Pixel 3), 64 or 128GB of onboard storage, no microSD expansion, and no headphone jack. Sadly, Google also isn’t bundling a pair of earbuds in the box this time around.
What we’re not so thrilled about are the Pixel 4 and 4 XL’s battery capacities. The Pixel 4 has a 2,800mAh cell (115mAh less than the Pixel 3’s) while the Pixel 4 XL has a 3,700mAh battery (270mAh more than the Pixel 3 XL’s). Those 90Hz displays are known to be pretty hard on battery life. Plus, considering the fact that the Pixel 3 has horrible battery life, we’re hoping Google does something to make sure Pixel 4 users can make it through a full day without needing to charge midway through the day.
Live HDR+, astrophotography, and learning-based white balance
Google is finally jumping on the dual-camera train. Both the Pixel 4 and 4 XL have a rear-facing 12MP Dual Pixel sensor and a 16MP telephoto lens for 2x zoom. This will result in wider-range portrait shots, as there are now two lenses to capture depth information. There’s also a hyperspectral sensor in the rear camera array to help improve image quality.
Live HDR+ is a new feature coming to the Pixel 4 and 4 XL. This will allow users to preview HDR+ processing in the camera app before taking the photo. A new feature called Dual Exposure controls will let users tweak shadows and highlights in a shot before taking the photo. It’s already possible to do this after the fact in photo editing apps, so this new feature will likely save users a lot of time.
Google is also focusing (ha) on better white balance. The Pixel 4s feature machine learning-based white balancing in all photo modes, not just in Night Sight mode like in the Pixel 3. This will result in more accurate colors across the board, not just in Night Sight mode.
Google is working on improved astrophotography in the Pixel 4. With Night Sight, the Pixel 4 will darken and denoise skies using computational photography. You can read more about astrophotography on the Pixel 4 here.
Google provided Android Authority with a handful of Pixel 4 camera samples:
Buy ’em today
Both devices will be available for pre-order starting today, with shipping slated for October 24. The Pixel 4 price starts at $799. You’ll be able to buy them unlocked through the Google Store, as well as through every major US carrier including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, and Google Fi. Unfortunately, Google isn’t bringing the Pixel 4 line to India this year. You can blame Soli for that.
The Pixel 4 and 4 XL come in three color options: Just Black, Clearly White, and a limited edition Oh So Orange.