Google announced Pixel 4 at an event in New York City last week, and now that I have it in my hands for a few days , I have it I would like to share some initial thoughts about the new features ̵
But before we go into that, let me make it clear that this is not a complete report. I had just been on the phone for a couple of days and I do not think there's enough time to write as thorough a review as I'd like. Instead, I opt for this compromise – a few first thoughts on the new and interesting features of the phone.
This will be a bit deeper than my practical phone impressions, but still not deep enough to invoke it. These are just the thoughts that I've gathered in the last few days and that I want to share before I find myself sit down to write the full review.
So, let's talk about it.
Google is innovating again
I used to own almost every nexus phone and pixel device since launching the series, except one: I I've been skipping the Pixel 3 I'm generally a fan of the XL models, and the massive score, which had absolutely no reason to exist, except "well, the iPhone has one," was enough to me to make this one hard pass. It was daunting to see Google say "Me too!" – made telephone just like everyone else .
But with Pixel 4, the old Googly-Poo returned to the drawing board and was actually thinking about what it wanted to do with the phone. What we have now is not a "me too" mobile phone, but an innovative and future-oriented hardware. It still has everything that Pixel Lovers love on Pixel phones – namely clean Android and a stunning camera – but it's also new, fresh and different. Not only compared to old pixels – compared to the whole Android ecosystem.
The bezel makes it better
Yeah, so the 3XL had that terrible score (and for the record I'm not a score) hater ", that was just bad), and at first glance it's easy to believe Pixel 4 is a step back because it has a full-length upper bezel. There's this weird notion among tech enthusiasts that we're supposed to absolutely hate fades for whatever reason but I do not think anyone would disagree that the pixel 4 is actually useful.
That's because there is a lot of impressive technology under this bezel. The first is a radar chip used to control the phone's gesture without touching it. This is the first time a radar has been integrated into a phone and Google has had to do a lot of work to make it so small that it fits. Although its use is still very limited, it can be quite useful.
Granted, the Radarchip is at the moment mostly a novelty. You can use it to switch songs or turn off alarms by simply waving your hand over your phone. When the phone rings, the radar also detects when your hand is approaching and automatically reduces the ring volume. Radar is not only a great way to get things done without touching the phone. It's also another feature of Android: Face Unlock.
Okay, okay – I know what you think: But Cam, Face Unlock is not new! And you're right. The name of the function is not new. The concept as a feature in Android is not new. However, this is a new feature in every sense. It's new because it's actually safe this time. It can not be fooled by a picture or a silly crap like it could the old "face unlocking" feature. No, this is Google's version of Face ID.
The front camera and depth sensors create a legitimate map of your face so it knows you . It works if you wear glasses or sunglasses. It works if you wear a hat. It works when wearing sunglasses with hat and . (It also works while you sleep.) I hope Google fixes the problem.) It works because it contains a structured map of your actual head. As I said, it is Google's acquisition of Face ID.
How is this related to the Radarchip? Because Face Unlock goes to work before you even answer the phone. The radar detects that your hand is coming towards the device, which wakes it up and looks for your face. When you pick it up and lift it, the camera and the depth sensors have already done so, and the phone is unlocked while it is in motion. In most cases, it is ready for use before you are. These are some mind-reader things right there.
And here's the best: It works . All right then. I have an iPhone XR as a second phone every day, so I am very familiar with Face ID and I know how murderous it is. I admit that I was a little worried about whether Google could do something as fluid and stunning as Apple with Face ID. The good news is that they nailed it absolutely.
Face Unlock is the truth. But it is not without problems. At least for the moment. As this is the only form of biometric security on the device, it still feels like a step backwards in app support. Nearly all secure apps (such as banking and financial tools, password managers, etc.) support fingerprint authentication. However, the Pixel 4 does not have a fingerprint scanner, and only a few apps support the new BiometricPrompt API required to use Face Unlock as the authentication method.
The good news is that Google is ready Some developers like 1Password and Keeper already support this feature. We also learned that the Android team is working closely with developers to help push this feature.
But right now it feels so damn funny to install a PIN every time I want to log in to my bank or LastPass. It's strange how a phone feels so far forward and so far back . .
So, come on, developer.
The Camera Will Blow You Away
If there's one with the pixel name, it's killer cameras. The Pixel 4 is no different – it has a better camera than any pixel in front of it. And frankly, probably the best camera on any cell phone you can buy today, assuming you do not really want a wide-angle lens.
For the first time, the pixel did not have one, but two rear view cameras – a 12.2 MP main shooter and a 16 MP telephoto lens. The telephoto lens takes a "nearly 2 times" zoom. You can also combine it with 8x digital zoom for a feature called Google S or Res Zoom . And let me tell you that this is absolutely unreal.
If you've ever used digital zoom before, you know that it generally only looks crappy. But with Super Res Zoom – a feature that was also available for Pixel 3 but optimized and refined for Pixel 4 – Google is still working on its kung fu rake magic to make an 8x zoom look so damn good , It is not grainy or washed out. It looks like you've taken a picture next to the one you zoomed in on. I took a bunch of photos with Super Res Zoom, and it's always amazingly impressive. Just have a look (click to enlarge):
No movement for these shots – the first is the main camera, the second is the telephoto lens (~ 2x zoom) and the third is full 8x. Google uses computer photography to make 8x zoom look awesome. Seriously, look at the detail. It's pretty unreal.
But that's not the only trick the Pixel 4's camera has up its sleeve. Night vision is better, to a point where astrophotography is possible (taking pictures of stars). It's pretty unreal. Here are some examples (left: normal camera, right: astrophotography mode):
And a comparison to astrophotography mode of Night Sight:
While the new Astrophotography mode of Night Sight is legitimate it is worth noting that it is 3-4 Takes minutes to shoot each one. Without a tripod that does not work, because the camera has to stand still all the time. It is not practical to stand without movement for four minutes. So do not even try it.
Another interesting thing is how to turn on astrophotography mode: you do not do it. There is no way for the user to activate this mode in the camera. They only call Night Sight. If the camera detects that it is dark enough, it will automatically switch to Astrom mode. Honestly, it's a bit strange and I think it could be problematic when it gets dark. You only want to use Night Sight to take a few pictures, as there is no obvious way to disable the Astro mode when it's on. Hopefully, Google will implement a toggle or similar in a future update.
The Pixel 4 also has dual exposure controls – one for the brightness and one for the shadows. This makes it easier to set the lighting correctly on most photos since requires very little . Speaking of DIY: Pixel 4's new Auto White Balance feature makes it even easier to take great photos with your mouse. You do not even have to stick to different areas of the screen to get the best brightness and contrast. Just open the camera and take a picture. The software does the rest. So good.
More will come.
As I said earlier, this is not a complete review. There's still so much to talk about – battery life (spoilers: early impressions are not good ), display, software, build quality, etc. – but I'd like to spend more time with the phone before dipping into it. More time to try it, to see if there's anything that makes me say, "Oh, no, that's shit," or "Dude, that's great, I can not wait to tell everyone about it . "
But I also wanted to talk about the phone's biggest features first. The stuff that immediately stands out and makes Pixel 4 different (or better in general). That's what this post was about.
I also have the opportunity to ask you: is there anything you want to know about Pixel 4 ? Hit me with questions or comments, because I'm all ears. Say it in the comments or even send me a ping on Twitter .