A few weeks ago after the iPhone 11 event, I said this in an article titled "Why Can't Google Get It Together": "what will the Pixel 4 do to 'WOW' us. Because so far it's looking promising, but not quite impressive. The design is average at best, however, it's hard to truly judge until we get it in our hands." Well we've got it in our hands and the reviews are in; and I find myself even less impressed than I was when I wrote that piece. At base we have 64 gigs of storage, 6 gigs of RAM, and a 2800 mAh battery, all for the starting price of 799. And I have absolutely no idea why or even who this phone is for outside of photographers. It's expensive, buggy, inconsistent, and isn't even the king of cameras any more with the iPhone 11 stepping it way up. So again I ask why? Why does this phone exist? Who is it for? Why is it so damn expensive?
The first thing you'll notice about the Pixel 4 is the new camera design. Because after years of Google bragging that they could do with software with one camera that other phones do with 2 or 3. Then fast forward to now, the Pixel 4 has 2 cameras. Now I don't care about telephoto vs wide angle. I think that debate is a pretty stupid one. However, if you were going to add a secondary camera, why not just add a third? I know it's easier said than done...but if you're gonna conform, why half step? That said, google opted to add a 2x Telephoto Lens and it's pretty dope.
Google claims that by adding the second lens that they are able to utilize a series of effects on their Super Res Zoom technology. And honestly, everything that I've seen from the camera on this front is pretty "wow". Even at 8x zoom the Pixel 4 takes more natural looking photos full of vibrance and detail. You really can't knock the camera.
Where things get really weird with the camera though is that it allows you to take pictures of the stars with it's new astrophotography mode. I could explain to you in detail how it all works, but honestly who gives a flub?! It takes 4 minutes to do and you have to set your phone up on a tripod. Why? Also light pollution can affect what the camera see. Why would I want to take a 4 minute picture of the sky that might not be anything special? The moment is gone after 4 minutes. Is this a feature that has the phone starting at 799? Get rid of it, now we're at 750.
Don't get me wrong, the low-light performance on this phone is of course dope. And improved from the Pixel 3. The software does so much in regards to getting you a great photo at night and a great photo in general. However, the issue with this lies in the hardware I believe. The second lens should make things amazing, but it doesn't. You even lose features. Apparently, according to MKBHD he Pixel 3 allowed for wide portrait photos which the Pixel 4 doesn't do. And he finds that the best use of the secondary camera is for zoomed in photography. Usually one should be able to say that one would be hard pressed to find a camera that does things better than the Pixel 4. But with the iPhone 11 being so damn close and in some cases better, it makes the Pixel 4 an even harder sell, and therein lies the rub.
If this phone is for your average camera photographer, then why not get an iPhone 11? They do so many things
well now. Not just with taking pictures but editing them as well. Not to mention you can shoot video in 4k 60 fps, where as Pixel 4 still only does 4k at 30fps. And google's explanation for not having it is pretty arrogant and condescending. I mean c'mon google. And if that wasn't enough, the image stabilization at 30 fps isn't great. And honestly, if I'm gonna spend 799 for a phone because of it's camera. And the camera isn't the be all and the phone part is pretty trash. I'd just buy a camera.
The other big thing with the Pixel 4 is, no, not Soli. I'll get to that later. What I'm talking about is that 90 hz OLED screen. And it's honestly the best part of the phone. Google is calling this "Smooth Display" and you definitely notice the difference. The phone feels smoother, games play relatively fine. and it's just a joy to play with. Now the Pixel 4’s screen is no Oneplus 7 Pro's, but damn is it pretty impressive. Well, at least indoors since it doesn't really get too bright for some strange reason. So if you're outside with the sun hitting it. Be prepared to squint or have to look for shade. But you still get good viewing angles, great resolution, and awesome colors.
And speaking of colors. The Pixel 4 introduces a new system this go around Google dubs Ambient EQ, which is supposed to tune the color temperature of the screen based on the light around you. Something that the iPhone apparently does. And the results are so subtle, they're barely noticeable. And that's the thing; for as vastly improved as somethings are the overall feel is that, in a sense, this is an incremental update.
The biggest leap forward comes at the expense of the fingerprint reader. The Pixel 4 has done away with that in favor of what they're calling the fastest face unlock on any smartphone. And those claims have been found to be damn true. It's front facing sensor in combination with the radar chip allows for some pretty smooth and fast unlocks. And if I'm being honest, I don't have a real objection against, except for the fact that it won't work for apps that use biometrics just yet. So bank apps and investment apps will need to catch up before you can just log in with your face
However, as with every positive on this phone their lies a negative. This phone can be unlocked while your eyes are closed. And seriously WTF google. And I wish I could report that this was done in error. But when you set up your face unlock, it tells you in the warning. So goggle KNEW this flaw existed and still released the tech. On top of all that there are some reports of the phone not recognizing people who scan their face with makeup on verses off and vice versa. Now I don't know if that speaks to those peoples strong makeup game of the phone's weak capabilities, but I suspect there's a lot of patchwork for google to get on. And boy is there A LOT of work to be done.
Which brings me to the star feature of the Pixel 4. It's Soli chip technology. And for you to understand my gripes you first have to understand what Soli is. Google's Soli Chip is a miniaturized radar that tracks motion. It's supposed to be able to track submillimeter motion moning dumb fast with near pinpoint accuracy. The Chip works like this, by emitting electromagnetic waves with objects within the beam's area of effect it gathers information about what's happening. It then takes that information gathered from a reflected signal from the atenas, and gives the device information about the interaction. Simple right? Of course it isn't and I respect Google's ambition on this one. By putting this chip in this phone they get some real world testing and real world feedback.
And by and large to has so nice features. It's a key component to the speed of face unlock. By merely reaching for the phone during it ringing or while an alarm is going off it's lowers the volume. And...well that's where the practical usage ends. The other tricks up its sleeve is skipping songs or turning pages...but if I'm going to go through the effort of making this GRAND gesture, then I may as well just push a button with 100% of the accuracy and less work. On top of all of this, its inconsistent. Most people have only gotten it to work 30 to 70 percent of the time.
The thing is Google really emphasized this feature. Hell It's part the reason that the phone is 799 to start. Take this away and the phone would probably drop to 599 and be able to be sold in India as well. They sold us the idea that this would be life changing, yet it hardly alters anything at all. It makes certain things a tad bit easier or faster, while making other things more effortful and frustrating. Its an unproven tech that is as uninteresting right now as it is relevant.
And I get that its tech designed with the future in mind. But it's flawed now, and practically useless. On a phone that offers subpar battery life and standard performance. They did build the google assistant right on the device and that gives assistant on the Pixel 4 an edge over other device; as well as some amazing capabilities. Continued conversation, faster results, and a smoother experience. But again, is it worth the money? I don't think it is.
Some reviewers of this phone would have you believe that it's top tier. That we should start judging high end phones on the basis of whether or not it can replace your laptop. That google is laying the groundwork for the future. And I just don't think that's true. A phone will never be in the same league as a laptop no matter how fast it can process videos. Just because this phone takes great photos and has a 90 hz screen means nothing if the battery is useless. And the future isn't promised. I don't want a phone that's a concept of things to come. I was a phone that is a product of things that are here.
So is the Pixel a good buy? I dunno, I haven't gotten my hands on one. And Google will never send a phone out to a site like ours. However, these are my thoughts, opinions, and feelings after watching tons of other reviews, comparison videos, and reading a bunch of articles on the phone. And the truth is, of course this phone has a following and I'm sure it's good for some. However, with my use and what I expect from a phone I couldn't not only recommend this phone to others. But also can't figure out why it exists.
I wanted so badly to be apart of the greatest Android experience there is. And there is no mistaken that you get that with Pixel 4. I wanted so badly to throw my money at google, but this phone and defend it to the death. But it just didn't strike that cord in me. I don't just just buy a phone for the camera, I buy it for the experience. And yet again I find that google just isn't offering a good one.
I just want to thank all the people that may have read this and ask what are your thoughts on the Pixel 4. I'd love to see how other average consumers are viewing the device. So be sure to leave a comment down below and join our mailing list so you get the latest updates of the best tech, games, and more to get unhinged over.