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Google Announces The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL: The 2019 Pixels

Today Google announced the new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL flagship devices, representing Google's vision for 2019 and 2020. The new phones upgrade the hardware to the latest and greatest, such as introducing a new 90Hz display. The new phones come with a new design language that differs more significantly from its predecessors, with some risky choices in terms of new features that the new generation drops as well as adopts.

As always, Google prides itself in the camera of the Pixel phones and this year we kinda saw the new Pixel go against the flow of industry trends, and instead of adopting a much hyped ultra-wide-angle module, Google doubled down on a new telephoto camera. However, Google's forte remains software, and here besides new camera features, Google also brings new features to the table, such as new upgraded voice recognition aided by machine learning that's been used by both for the new Assistant, as well as new apps such as the live transcription recorder app.

Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL
AnandTech Pixel 4 Pixel 4 XL
SoC Snapdragon 855
1 x 2.84 GHz Kryo 485
3 x 2.42 GHz Kryo 485
4 x 1.78 GHz Kryo 485
Adreno 640 Graphics
Storage 64 GB or 128 GB UFS
Display [19659015] 5.7 "OLED
2280 x 1080 (19: 9)
90 Hz
6.3" OLED
3040 x 1440 (19: 9)
90 Hz
Size Height 147.1 mm 160.4 mm
Width 68.8 mm 75.1 mm
Depth 8.2 mm 8.2 mm
Weight 162 grams ] 193 grams [19659007] Battery Capacity 2800 mAh 3700 mAh
Charging 18 W Wired Quick Charge 2.0
Qi Wireless Charging
Rear Cameras
Main 12.2MP 1.4µm Dual Pixel PDAF
f / 1.7 1 / 2.55 "sensor with OIS
Telephoto 16 MP f / 2.4 1.0 micron
PDAF, OIS, ~ 2x Optical Zoom
Front Camera 8MP 1.12µm f / 2.0
+ ToF 3D Camera
I / O USB-C 3.1 (5 Gbps)
No 3.5mm headphone jack
Wireless (local) 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0 LE + NFC
Cellular UE Category 18 (DL) / Category 12 (UL)
1200 Mbit / s DL (5xCA 2×2 MIMO)
150 Mbit / s UL
Other Features Stereo Speakers
Android 10
Project Soli Radar Motion Sensng
No fignerprint sensor, face ID only
Dual-SIM [19659011] 1x nanoSIM + 1 x eSIM
Colors White
Launch Price $ 749 / $ 799 for 64GB
$ 899 for 128GB
€ 899 / $ 899 for 64 GB
$ 999 for 128 GB

Starting off with hardware, Google's Pixel 4 and 4 XL are both powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855. It's always a bit awkward to see the Pixel phones' launch schedule to be out

Google upgrades the DRAM of the newer models to 6GB of LPPD4X, and offers the sync with the SoC generation launch schedule, but as in the past Pixel iterations it seems it has not handicapped Google's success with the devices too much. models in storage variants of 64GB and 128GB of NAND. The latter is a bit unfortunate as we saw a lot of vendors move to 128GB base storage models this year, and the 128GB version comes at a $ 100 premium.

Other internal hardware changes are not quite as attractive. Google, like many other vendors this year, was not able to integrate the new WiFi 6 (802.11ax) into phones this year, which is a pity.

The battery capacities of the phones are also quite odd in terms of the changes made between the two generations: While the 4 XL now increases the battery capacity from 3430mAh to 3700mAh, the regular Pixel 4 actually decreases the capacity from 2915mAh to 2800mAh, which is now among the smallest batteries out there even though it remains a smaller device. The new capacities are not very impressive when we consider that the new phones advertise 90Hz as a new display feature.

90Hz shown off by OnePlus and several other vendors this year has been touted as a killer feature, and in my opinion it adds a fantastic new aspect to the user experience. Google's implementation doesn't have all the applications running at 90Hz all the time – it's only available in a select amount of apps, which I'll still have to live in more thoroughly. In my short time since I had the phone I did notice that it's very conservative in its enablement, basic applications such as the browser don't seem to be enabled for 90Hz. Thankfully, Google does have a 90Hz option all the time in the developer options that makes things a lot more straightforward in terms of taking advantage of the new hardware capability.

The displays come in a new aspect ratio of 19: 9 which elongates things a bit compared to last year's 18: 9 and 18.5: 9 aspects of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. Resolution remains 1080p for the Pixel 4, and 1440p for the Pixel 4 XL – which makes sense in terms of their resulting PPIs.

A big design change is that now both units have the same overall device symmetry – meaning the 4 XL no longer has the atrocious display notch of the 3 XL. Both units retain a larger upper bezel area in which Google fits the cameras as well as the new sensors.

The new Soli radar chip is the new addition in terms of sensors. Google's goal here is to enable motion sensing navigation, Minority Report style – and to do it more efficiently and a lot more precisely than what was possible by other implementations out there such as LG's ToF sensor motion control feature attempt. I'll have to investigate this a bit more, but currently it feels like the software use-cases for the feature are a bit meager – so definitely this one will be hit or miss just depending on how Google is able to have apps take advantage

The great feature of oddity is that Google has made some compromises: There is no longer a fingerprint scanner on the phone, and now the Pixel 4s have solely make due with facial unlocking. Google says it's going to be the fastest implementation out there, but we'll have to see how it ends up in practice. I feel as if they could have a secondary under-display fingerprint sensor like many other vendors as an alternative option.

Also a sort of side-grade seems to be the speaker setup. Google has dropped the dual front-facing speaker setup last year for a more conventional top earpiece + bottom firing main speaker setup. A very quick audio check pointed to some disappointing sound quality that doesn't really compete with other 2019 devices.

The phone comes in three colors: white, orange and black. The former two options have a matte etched glass finish that's definitely quite great in feel – while the black option retains a regular glossy glass.

The frame of the phone is said to be made of aluminum, but it's coated in a hybrid material that's definitely not something that's been adopted before. It's a coarse matte finish that feels a bit weird and definitely something to get used to.

The dual front facing cameras on the Pixel 3 are gone and we now see a single module solely. The space of the second camera is now taken up by a near infrared flood emitter, a dot projector, and two NIR cameras, which enable the new face unlocking.

In terms of the new rear cameras, the main unit seems relatively unchanged in its features. It's still a 12.2MP sensor with 1.4µm pixels, although the Google representative hinted that it might be a newer sensor with better noise characteristics. The aperture has been expanded from f / 1.8 to f / 1.7, and the module retains the OIS.

In terms of secondary camera, Google has really gone full on against the flow in the industry and instead of adopting an ultra-wide-angle , has opted to employ a telephoto module for optical magnification. Google explains that it currently sees more sense and value in a telephoto module compared to the UWA, and certainly a polarizing decision.

The telephoto module is a much higher resolution 16MP unit and has an aperture of f / 2.4. The combination of a higher resolution optical telephoto module with Google's super zoom algorithm is said to be extremely capable and resulting in very high quality pictures.

On the software side of things, Google's new camera now introduces dual exposure controls where you can individually adjust highlights and shadow exposure before a capture, allowing one to better create good compositions. I noted that you first have to tap on the viewfinder and expose for an element of the scene in order to have these controls show up.

Night Sight is now improved, and will be able to achieve better low-light capture ability. One aspect that was way under the spotlight is the ability for the phone to take viable astrophotography pictures, albeit it's recommended to use a tripod or prop up the phone for this best work.

Overall, the new Pixel 4 phones look interesting , and I think their success will depend solely on how the battery life of the 90Hz display ends up, and also if Google's camera has seen other improvements besides the aforementioned new features.

Google's pricing this year is identical to last year: The The Pixel 4 starts at $ 799, while the 4 XL starts at $ 899, with the 128GB variants coming with a $ 100 premium.

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