Google Pixel 4 is here everyone! You know the drill. Two sizes, three colors, two storage options, a million leaks, Google software, a really good camera, the whole Pixel deal. It’s high expectations, in other words. The Pixel 4 is the flagship. It’s what Google says Android should be. It also wants it to be like the default Android phone. Plus, this is the first year that Google is selling it on all four major US carriers. So, we expect it to be good enough to really start selling in a big volume. Anyway, the point is, the Pixel is all about expectations. But now that it’s here, can it live up to those expectations especially when it starts at $799 and goes up to 1,000? Let’s get into it.
Google Pixel 4: Design
As far as the design is concerned, there’s one thing that should be established at the outset. Pixel 4 and the iPhone 11 look almost the same. Apart from being funny, it is also very unanticipated. They both have matte glass on some models and glossy on other models. They both have the square camera bump. The Pixel has these really obvious matte rails on the side. It’s not trying to hide them or polish them away. They’re the main part of the look of this phone. The matte rails make it easier to grip too.
So far, it seems like the whole thing is a little bit less scratch-prone than the Pixel 3 was. I still love the color pop on the power button. I still think the black one is the most boring one. But you know what, they all look the same when you put ’em in a case anyway. But before you put ’em in a case, take a second to appreciate that this is the best build quality Google has ever done on a phone.
Face unlock on the Pixel 4 uses infrared projectors just like the iPhone. Just like on the iPhone, it looks super wild when you point a real infrared camera at it. It has a decent field of view, but it’s maybe not quite as wide as the iPhone 11’s. The infrared means that it works in the dark, and the system is designed to detect depth, so I wasn’t able to trick it with a video or a photo of myself. But if you’re worried about somebody making a life-like mask of you, maybe you should look at other things that are going on with your life.
One thing you should know is that it doesn’t do the extra security step of making sure that you’re looking at it. That means if you’re asleep, someone could just point it at you and unlock it because it works with your eyes closed. So, only sleep around people you trust? That’s just good life advice. Anyway, once it’s set up, it just works like you would expect it to. It unlocks the phone, and it can also authenticate Google Pay or bank apps or whatever. You just point your face at it, and it unlocks. It’s fast, like really fast. It’s at least as fast as the iPhone.
The Pixel 4 has a radar chip up top. It’s a Project Soli chip, but the feature is called motion sense. It’s the thing that I’m sure everybody is going to say is a little flaky because it is a little flaky. You can wave your hand left or right to go back or forward if you use it like a podcast is playing. You can also wave your hand to dismiss phone calls or snooze alarms. It’s the most prominent, most engaging feature of motion sense. That’s why it’s a bummer that it’s the flakiest part. There are times where it works every time. But sometimes it doesn’t.
There have been gestures on phones before, and nobody used them. I think these gestures are gonna fare slightly better because they don’t hit your battery life and you can just be a little bit more flippant with your gestures when you use them. But you know what, feel free to be annoyed with them or just ignore them completely. It’s cool. It’s cool because even if Google just took those gestures away entirely, I would still be glad that Soli is on this phone because of the other two things that it does.
The first is it detects your presence. It just knows if you’re nearby. When you walk away, the always-on screen turns off. That’s cool. It actually works really well. The other thing that works really well is reach. The phone knows if you’re reaching for it, and it can do stuff when that happens. So, if a ringtone or alarm is blaring, it quiets down when your hand gets near it, so you can look at the phone and then decide what you wanna do, wave it away or whatever.
And if the screen is off and you reach for it, it lights up the face unlock cameras and starts looking for you. That is part of the reason why face unlock feels so fast. It is a split second faster than the accelerometer method that the iPhone uses. Google also defaults to going straight into the phone instead of unlocking to the lock screen, which makes it feel even faster yet.
It’s camera time, and I know what you’re here for. You wanna know whether or not the Pixel 4 took the best smartphone camera crown back from the iPhone 11 Pro. Let me tell you why that’s complicated. Now, we’re reviewing the Pixel, and we have to say that Apple’s Deep Fusion’s sweater mode software upgrade is right around the corner. So, I have to mention it. It’s practically diabolical, and it means that we can’t make a definitive judgment right now.
But when it comes to still photo photography and night mode and all of that, we do think there are a lot of useful things to talk about with these two cameras. Plus, the Pixel has a few new features that we need to talk about, especially now that it has a second telephoto lens. The iPhone still trends towards yellow tones while the Pixel is a little bit bluer. The Pixel has a look.
Even though it’s slightly warmer and less contrasty than the last Pixel, it’s still much more dramatic than the iPhone. Apple does sharpen a little bit more, and it does maintain a little bit more detail too, and more detail is good, but, the color balance on the Pixel is smarter. Google is analyzing the actual things in the image and guessing what the white balance should be based on what it sees where Apple is treating white balance a little bit more like a traditional camera would.
That is it, ladies and gentlemen, until next time!