The Pixel 4 smartphone from Google brought no surprises as it was leaked completely weeks before the announcement. I’ve used all the Pixels before, but this is my first time using the smaller Pixel (instead of the XL size) and I did feel a noticeable difference in ease of use and battery life.
Pixel 4 Design
The design is very clean and simple. You no longer have the fingerprint sensor in the back, but you do have dual cameras (12 and 16 mp) The screen is smaller than what I’m used to but still crisp. The 5.4-inch display is nicely tucked into a comfortable overall size. There’s no notch, just a bit of a forehead. There’s still no headphone jack. You just have the power and volume buttons on the right side, and the usb-c charging port at the bottom. The build of the Pixel 4 just seems cleaner overall and I like it. I have the Pixel 4 panda, which is a white back with the black camera bump. It’s a nice matte look. Simple and stylish.
Going from one Pixel phone to the other is almost always seamless, as not many changes in between the phones. This year, we were thrown a curveball with the Pixel 3a, which allowed us to experience most of the Pixel’s best features with a lower price tag. I feel most people go with a Pixel phone for two main reasons, the clean Android software experience, and the amazing camera. Since there’s no fingerprint scanner on the back, you’re forced to either use a pin or face unlock. I’ve been using face unlock since day 1 and rarely has it failed me. Using the Pixel overall felt smooth to me probably because of the 90Hz refresh rate and 6GB of RAM. After extended use, it has held up quite well. Hoping it stays that way. The 90 Hz refresh rate was one of my favorite features on the OnePlus 7 Pro, so I was happy to see it on Pixel.
Pixel 4 Features
Motion Sense: It may seem kind of gimmicky at first. Motion Sense allows you to use gestures to control the Pixel 4. Anything from switching tracks, snoozing alarms and ignoring calls, Motion Sense allows you to do it with a swiping motion over the phone. Rarely do I use my phone for alarms (I use a smart alarm clock), but I found myself using Motion Sense to skip tracks more than any other notification. It’s not a must-have feature, but of course, it’s nice to have. I don’t think it’s a feature many will use after the first few weeks.
Recorder: We saw this at the launch event and we were all amazed. The transcribing is done on the device (not on the cloud), so it’s cool to see it done in real-time. It works as promised and I imagine it will be of use to many people when taking and transcribing notes. The app is available for Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 as well.
Pixel 4 Camera
This is the first time the Pixel has multiple cameras. Sadly, one of them isn’t a wide-angle camera. It’s not a deal-breaker but a deciding factor. Google thinks more people will use zoom over the wide-angle lens, which is why they added the 16mp telephoto lens. The controls on the camera are great for controlling the image.
Night Sight is still there saving low light pictures. Since I live in the city it’s difficult to test Astrophotography mode, as the sky is barely visible. Also, it’s not always available. It’s a mode that switches automatically from Night Sight when you start taking pictures of the sky. I definitely suggest using a tripod since it takes up to five minutes to get an Astrophotography picture. Portrait Mode on the Pixel 4 is still the best thing ever. I use it all the time and the quality never fails.
I always make it a point to say that battery life is subject to the owner’s use. While that is true, in the case of the Pixel 4, almost nothing can give you long-lasting battery life. My battery life varied from day to day, but I never made it a full day of use on the Pixel 4. So unfortunate, because everything else is so great. This is the only time I do wish I had the larger the Pixel 4 XL.
The battery life makes the starting price a bit hard to justify at $799 for the 64GB model. If you don’t subscribe to cloud-based platforms you may want to double up the storage to 128GB since there’s no SD card slot. As usual, there are some promotions from carriers and Google to sweeten the deal. Currently, you can get up to $200 when buying the Pixel 4 from the Google Store. The phone is no longer exclusive to Verizon, but they are offering great deals on the phone constantly. You can get the Pixel 4 from other carriers.
I enjoy using the smaller Pixel model this time around. It’s comfortable and easy to use one-handedly. It’s not the best bang for your buck, so you really have to enjoy the clean Android experience, the killer camera, and deal with the subpar battery life to go for the Pixel 4. If you want the Pixel 4 camera experience at a much lesser price, I recommend the Pixel 3a. If you want a more solid build go with the Pixel 4, but you will shell out a few more bucks for the quality.