Google Pixel four XL evaluate: A outstanding telephone with a small battery
“Google’s latest Pixel once more has a successful digicam, and once more falters on battery life.”
Vivid, sharp, and easy 6.Three-inch display
Face Unlock is quick
Genuinely useful, good software program
Battery life is not nice
Barely any apps assist Face Unlock
Paltry 64GB of storage
I’ve been reviewing Google’s Pixel telephones since they launched again in 2016, and there have been two constants: a killer digicam and an inadequate battery. This theme continues with the corporate’s newest, the Google Pixel four XL.
It’s incredible in virtually each division, from a superb display to sensible software program, however the battery nonetheless trails the competitors. It’s not dangerous sufficient to place me off from utilizing the telephone utterly, however energy customers beware: this telephone will wrestle to final you a full day. There’s lots to get pleasure from earlier than that final battery share level slips away, although. Let’s take a better look.
Need a smaller telephone? Try our Google Pixel four evaluate, the place we take an in depth take a look at the 5.7-inch mannequin.
A minimalist and hanging design
I’m a sucker for distinction, shiny colours, and minimalist designs, which suggests the Pixel four XL is exactly up my alley. I spoke to the designers in regards to the means of redesigning the telephone — that is the primary main redesign of the Pixel line — and I’m pleased with the modifications made.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
Gone is the road on the again of the telephone that used to separate two completely different textures, which additionally means there are not two textures on the again. As a substitute, this two-tone design is achieved utilizing the edges of the telephone; there’s a black band across the edges, which helps masks some parts just like the USB-C port, the speaker grill, and the SIM slot, but it surely additionally helps body the rear panel, making it stand out. I additionally love the feel of this black band because it feels such as you’re touching a sturdy eggshell.
The Gorilla Glass 5 again is cleaner than ever earlier than, particularly since there’s not a fingerprint sensor, however there’s now a “Pixel sq.,” which is what the designers name the digicam module. In contrast to the iPhone 11 Professional, the place the triple-camera system distinctly stands out, Google masked the lenses with a black filter, making the sq. module itself bolder and extra pronounced. Paired with the black band across the edges, it’s straightforward to acknowledge this telephone, and the accented shade of the ability button provides a bit extra visible aptitude.
I can’t cease staring on the Pixel four; it’s lovely, feels incredible within the hand, and the design actively makes me need to present it off.
I’ve heard others name the design bland — generally even ugly — (I disagree, clearly) however you’ll be able to’t deny it’s distinctive. I used to be taking images with it at a canine park in Manhattan, and three individuals approached me at separate occasions asking whether or not I used to be utilizing a Pixel four.
In the event you’re going to purchase one, go for the Clearly White or the Oh So Orange colours (the latter is a restricted version), as a result of the Simply Black is simply too plain. Worse but, the black is the one one with a shiny glass texture on the rear, whereas the opposite two colours go for a matte glass. The matte texture feels easy to the contact and has the additional benefit of hiding smudges and fingerprints. The identical can’t be stated of the shiny black choice, which, on high of this, is a mud magnet.
I can’t cease staring on the Pixel four: it’s lovely, feels incredible within the hand, and the design makes me need to present it off.
A 90Hz display
Google has put an even bigger emphasis on the display’s look with the Pixel four XL than it did on final yr’s Pixel Three XL, which has a dreadful notch that appears hideous. This time, there’s a sizeable bezel on the high and a slimmer one on the underside, which isn’t terribly trendy however acceptable; it’s straightforward to neglect about when you begin utilizing the telephone.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
The opposite drawback Google solved is the display’s brightness. I’ve hassle studying the Pixel Three XL’s display in sunny situations, however that’s not the case on the Pixel four XL. Is it brighter or extra bezel-less than the Samsung’s Galaxy Notice 10 Plus? No, however I haven’t had a lot hassle right here regardless of this.
The three,040 x 1,440 decision is sharp and blacks are fantastically deep, although colours aren’t as saturated as they’re on Samsung’s telephones. The 6.Three-inch display dimension additionally doesn’t really feel too large, although I do have giant palms.
The massive display is good for watching films and exhibits, particularly because of HDR10 assist. Exhibits like Disenchanted and Peaky Blinders look crisp with vibrant colours that pop, although ultra-dark scenes are admittedly not as straightforward to see as they’re on the Galaxy Notice 10 or iPhone 11 Professional.
The display’s highlight characteristic is the 90Hz refresh price, like we’ve seen on the OnePlus 7T, and it’s incredible. This implies you’re seeing 90 frames per second (FPS), which is greater than the standard 60FPS on most smartphones. Extra frames make all the pieces the Pixel does feels smoother and extra responsive, an impact that’s amplified while you play video games which assist 90FPS. All this may sound small, but it surely does enrich the expertise of utilizing the telephone on daily basis, and I’m excited for extra telephones to return with the next refresh price.
As a result of the smaller bezel is slimmer than its predecessor, the front-facing speaker has been moved to the underside edge. It’s a disgrace, however fortunately audio nonetheless sounds good and might fill a small room with out sounding too distorted at excessive volumes. There’s no headphone jack, and if you happen to’re out there for wi-fi earbuds, you could need to anticipate Google’s Pixel Buds 2.
Face Unlock is nice when it’s supported
It took me a day or two to get used to the lack of the fingerprint sensor on the again of the Pixel four XL. I didn’t simply use it to unlock the telephone, but in addition to swipe down on it to tug down the notification drawer. Whereas I do miss this perform, I additionally admire Google’s addition of Face Unlock. It’s a part of the explanation why the bezel on the highest of the display is so large: there are a number of sensors, together with Google’s Soli expertise, which the corporate has been engaged on for a number of years.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
Soli makes use of radar to determine 3D objects, and on the Pixel four it’s used to acknowledge when your hand is approaching the telephone, so it could possibly prime up the Face Unlock digicam to unlock the telephone shortly or decrease the amount of calls and alarms when your hand nears the telephone. Useful! You can too use it for gestures to manage some capabilities of the telephone, however we’ll get to that quickly.
Face Unlock is snappy and correct, and I like that it goes straight to the house display as an alternative of requiring a swipe up. There are occasions after I have to faucet the display to verify the digicam is on the lookout for my face, however in any other case, I haven’t had hassle utilizing it to entry the telephone. The issue is there are barely any apps that assist it but. Android has a brand new BiometricPrompt API so apps can goal it to assist fingerprint sensors and facial recognition methods for gadgets working Android 9 and Android 10, but it surely takes time for builders so as to add assist. All apps will ultimately have to focus on this API, however Google doesn’t have a agency deadline, which suggests you’ll simply have to attend and hope the assist is coming quickly.
This can be a little irritating as a result of now it means I’ve to maintain typing in my (lengthy) password to entry my banking apps, and even after I need to reload my Starbucks card within the Starbucks app (first-world issues, I do know). Nevertheless it goes to point out how far more handy biometric authentication providers have turn into, and since there’s no fingerprint choice in any respect, you’re caught ready for builders so as to add assist for Pixel four. Even Google Pay’s peer-to-peer transactions don’t assist it but, which is ridiculous. Hopefully, Google prods builders so as to add assist (together with its personal) and it received’t be an issue for lengthy. Some apps like Dashlane, Keeper, and 1Password assist it already.
The issue is there are barely any apps that assist Face Unlock but.
One other drawback is Face Unlock has no choice so as to add an alternate face or look, which is one thing you are able to do on Apple’s iPhone with Face ID. I do know a colleague that’s utilizing the Pixel four, and she or he’s having a tough time getting it to determine her face after placing on make-up. Even worse, Face Unlock can unlock even when your eyes are closed. That’s a safety concern as somebody can simply take your telephone and level it at your face to unlock it, even if you happen to shut your eyes to cease it.
The iPhone has an choice that requires your eyes to be open to unlock and Google advised Digital Tendencies it’s engaged on this very characteristic which can come to the Pixel four by a safety replace “within the coming months.” In the event you’re involved about safety at present, Google does recommend toggling on Lockdown mode after you’re accomplished utilizing the telephone. It’s an influence menu choice that can disable biometric authentication and require a pin, sample, or password for the following unlock.
Google has a methods to go to creating Face Unlock as safe as it’s on the iPhone, and it’ll take a while till the characteristic is supported in each app.
I discussed the Soli expertise earlier — properly, it’s a sleeper hit. Having it flip down the amount as I method the ringing telephone, whether or not it’s throughout an alarm or telephone name, is nice, however I’m a fair larger fan of Movement Sense. This new characteristic allows you to wave your hand left or proper above the telephone to snooze an alarm, silence a name, and even swap between tracks whereas listening to music.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
It’s extremely restricted in the intervening time, however Google stated it’s exploring different varieties of gestures it could possibly incorporate so as to add additional worth. Chatting with different reviewers, I really feel like I’m within the minority, however I discover Movement Sense works properly for me, and I’ve been utilizing it to dismiss alarms within the morning simply by waving my hand. I additionally love utilizing it to modify tracks as I work and take heed to music; I can do all of this with out having to choose up the telephone, and that’s fairly nice.
Nevertheless it’s not excellent. Movement Sense does work when the display is off, but it surely doesn’t all the time register my waves and might generally take a couple of tries. That is on the rarer aspect, because the characteristic works because it ought to more often than not.
What Movement Sense desperately wants is extra gestures and actions. It’d be nice if I can use it to pause and play music, not simply change tracks, as you’ll be able to with hand gestures on the LG G8 ThinQ. One other thought is utilizing it to cycle by images after casting them to a Chromecast-enabled TV. There are a number of potential use instances for it, and I do hope Google follows by on enhancing the performance additional as an alternative of merely abandoning it like lots of its different tasks. There’s a sport referred to as Headed South that helps this characteristic, and it’d be cool to see it adopted in different apps if Google opens up the API.
A story of two cameras
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
Google has lengthy held agency that it solely wants one digicam to ship glorious images, drawing on its experience in computational pictures, as different producers proceed so as to add a number of cameras for versatility. That’s beginning to change, because the Pixel four’s 12.2-megapixel primary lens with an f/1.7 aperture is now paired with a 16-megapixel telephoto lens (f/2.four), which provides up 2x optical zoom. Regardless of this, Google continues to point out us that you simply don’t want 48-megapixel cameras to supply gorgeous images, which is what most Android producers are veering towards.
However nonetheless, Google ought to have taken Apple’s route and added a triple-camera system right here as a result of I’ve by no means felt as if the Pixel telephones’ zoom capabilities had been missing. Google debuted a characteristic on the Pixel Three referred to as Tremendous Res Zoom, which makes use of synthetic intelligence to scrub up digitally-zoomed images, delivering high quality that’s surprisingly similar to telephoto pictures from different telephones. It could have been very nice to pair this with an ultra-wide-angle digicam for extra various pictures. Ah, properly. I’ll need to hope the Pixel 5 comes with this type of setup.
The picture sensor for the primary lens is similar because the one on final yr’s Pixel, besides the aperture is barely wider, so it ought to seize higher low-light images, and there’s improved dynamic vary. The digicam app additionally feels far snappier than ever earlier than.
The telephoto lens does assist guarantee optimum high quality for zoomed-in pictures, however we’ve seen telephoto lenses on telephones for a very long time now — couldn’t Google a minimum of have opted for a 3x optical zoom lens, like on Huawei’s P30 Professional? Regardless, the standard seems good, and in contrast to some telephones, Google’s glorious Evening Sight mode works with the telephoto lens, which means you’ll get good high quality images, regardless of the time of day.
As you’ll be able to see beneath, it edges out over the iPhone 11 Professional and Samsung’s Notice 10 Plus at 5x digital zoom, with barely stronger particulars and extra depth.
Pixel four XL. Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
iPhone 11 Professional. Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
Galaxy Notice 10 Plus. Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
There’s a selected kind of look Google’s Pixel telephones seize — a number of distinction in addition to cooler and darker tones. It’s a mode I’ve all the time loved, but it surely’s not for everybody. You may favor the brighter and hotter images from the iPhone 11 Professional, for instance. However, I feel the most recent iPhone typically does edge out the Pixel four in picture high quality and flexibility (the additional ultra-wide-angle lens helps), although that’s not all the time the case. There are occasions when the Pixel four snaps a way more pleasing picture with higher element, so it’s fairly an in depth competitors.
There are a number of enhancements that make the digicam expertise higher, although. First is Reside HDR+, which helps you to see what the picture will appear to be after it’s been processed — earlier than you even faucet the shutter button. It’s helpful, as a result of I don’t want to attend a couple of seconds to see what the consequence will likely be, and I can re-frame the picture if wanted.
The brand new dual-exposure mode additionally provides extra inventive management, permitting you to regulate shadows and brightness earlier than snapping a photograph. There’s additionally learning-based white steadiness, which makes an attempt to determine the scene you’re in and apply true-to-life colours in all picture modes, although ends in darker scenes nonetheless are typically greatest in Evening Sight mode.
Talking of which, this mode has a number of the most notable enhancements. Evening Sight takes a number of photographs at completely different exposures and stacks them for a extra detailed and brighter low-light picture. Colours are nonetheless slightly over-saturated, but it surely continues to impress, delivering gorgeous images from the darkest of scenes. Even crazier, in case you have a tripod, level the telephone on the sky and Evening Sight mode will set off “Astrophotography mode,” which can set an publicity time that may go on for so long as 4 and a half minutes.
You may take some breathtaking images just like the one beneath, shot by my colleague in Scotland. You may see my try within the gallery above, which I shot in New York Metropolis with its heavy light-pollution, but it surely’s nonetheless an incredible picture contemplating the conventional digicam delivers a blotchy mess with no particulars.
Simon Hill / Digital Tendencies
Portrait Mode is now barely higher, too, and whereas there are enhancements within the blur utility round a topic over the Pixel Three’s efficiency, there’s nonetheless a number of room to develop. You may discover some areas of hair round my canine and different individuals can look slightly tousled in some images, so that you’ll need to take heed to the background while you’re capturing portraits. The much less taking place within the background, the higher.
These outcomes are nonetheless a number of the greatest you’ll be capable of get from a smartphone, rivaling these captured on Apple’s iPhone and Huawei telephones.
Google’s Pixel four XL has an Eight-megapixel entrance digicam with an f/2.zero aperture, and it snaps some glorious selfies, particularly in Portrait mode and Evening Sight mode. In contrast to the Pixel Three, which had two cameras on the entrance so you may swap between a large and a traditional lens, the one lens on the Pixel four XL is a large lens, so you’ll be able to nonetheless seize lots within the scene behind you, or snap group selfies with out struggling to suit everybody.
Pixel four XL Evening Selfie
Pixel four XL Portrait Selfie
Pixel four XL Selfie
The Pixel four’s digicam has improved, maybe not considerably over its predecessor, however in the correct areas that assist make it top-of-the-line digicam telephones to purchase proper now. One factor to notice, Google not provides free, limitless storage of full-resolution photographs to Google Photographs. You may nonetheless add your images free of charge at a excessive decision, simply not on the unique decision.
The newest software program and the perfect of Google Assistant
The following greatest a part of proudly owning a Pixel telephone is the software program. Naturally, the telephone is working the most recent model of Android 10, with up-to-date safety as properly. It’s an enormous perk as a result of, as Google develops Android, Pixel telephones are among the many first to get updates, which suggests new options and improved safety. Google’s promising this type of assist on the telephone for 3 years, which is greater than virtually all Android telephones.
Android 10 itself brings nice new options like a system-wide darkish theme, an improved gesture navigation system, in addition to extra transparency about what apps are accessing your location information and different sensors on the telephone. You may examine all the brand new options Android 10 provides in my evaluate if you happen to’re on the lookout for extra particulars.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
What retains me coming again to Pixel telephones, outdoors of the digicam, are a number of of the useful options which can be powered by machine studying. Now Enjoying continues to be current, so the telephone can let you know the identify of songs taking part in in your environment (even with out an web connection); then there’s Name Display, which screens potential robocalls so that you don’t have to speak to a telemarketer. The Movement Sense gestures additionally fall into this class of useful options that make a small influence on my day-to-day use of the telephone.
A brand new app referred to as Private Security provides up peace of thoughts, permitting the telephone to alert your preset emergency contacts within the occasion of an emergency, and the Pixel four may even detect automobile crashes by sensors on the telephone. It might probably then place calls to emergency providers and ship your location, in case you’re incapacitated. Useful certainly, although I can’t precisely check it to see how properly this all works.
My favourite new addition is the Recorder app, which might transcribe interviews in real-time. It makes use of on-device machine studying, so no information is distributed to Google and also you don’t want an web connection for it to work. The transcribing isn’t excellent, but it surely’s fairly good and glorious for individuals like me that do a number of interviews and hate the guide transcribing course of afterward. This app will make its solution to Pixel Three, Pixel 3a and Pixel 2 within the “coming months.”
Reside Caption is one more one among these additions that I by no means thought I’d want to make use of. It routinely generates captions for any video with audio, and all of this occurs on the gadget. I’ve used it after I’m on the subway and don’t need to placed on my earbuds, however need to perceive what’s happening in a video — Reside Caption’s largely correct captions saved the day.
What’s additionally spectacular is the brand new Google Assistant, which used to run on algorithms that required greater than 100GB of storage, now shrunken to underneath 500MB. Meaning it’s sooner, it could possibly work on-device extra usually as an alternative of solely counting on the cloud, and it doesn’t want an web connection for some duties, like opening an app or setting a timer.
Not solely does the UI look considerably nicer, taking over much less house on the display, however the perfect addition is Continued Dialog. It’s a characteristic obtainable on Google Nest gadgets, and it allows you to hold speaking to Assistant with out having to maintain triggering it. You’ll see the underside of the telephone glow with Assistant’s colours after you carry out a question, indicating that it’s nonetheless listening, in case you need to ask one thing else. It’s glorious and truly makes me use Assistant much more, particularly with the Energetic Edge, the “squeeze the telephone to set off Assistant” characteristic that’s nonetheless obtainable on the Pixel four.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
Assistant has improved in lots of different methods. For instance, now if you happen to’re in an app like Google Maps, you’ll be able to merely squeeze the telephone and ask Assistant to, “Seek for close by eating places,” and it’ll routinely run the question by Maps as an alternative of Assistant. a photograph you want? You may ask Assistant to ship it to somebody in your contacts, and you’ll even reply to texts as they arrive in simply by triggering Assistant and saying, “Reply to John,” earlier than dictating your response.
I’m utilizing Google Assistant much more now, which I’m certain makes Google comfortable because it will get extra information on me, although there are extra strong choices to manage how a lot of your information is saved. However in the long run, I’m utilizing Assistant as a result of it’s genuinely useful, and that’s greater than I can say about most different voice assistants.
The Pixel four XL has 6GB of RAM and is powered by the identical chip inside most Android flagship telephones in 2019: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855. There’s a barely higher chip obtainable — the Snapdragon 855 Plus, present in telephones just like the OnePlus 7T or the Asus ROG Cellphone 2 — however finally, you’re not going to note a lot of a distinction. The telephone had no hassle dealing with any of the apps I usually use, opening them up shortly. Switching between apps and even multitasking is a handy guide a rough affair.
Listed here are a couple of benchmark scores:
AnTuTu 3DBench: 362,158
Geekbench 5 CPU: 606 single-core; 2,056 multi-core
3DMark Sling Shot Excessive: four,007 (Vulkan); four,564 (OpenGL)
The Pixel four XL’s scores aren’t too completely different from different telephones utilizing the identical processor, just like the Samsung Galaxy Notice 10 Plus, and it stays within the higher echelon of highly effective smartphones, although the iPhone 11 Professional nonetheless maintains a large lead.
Video games like PUBG: Cellular, Alto’s Odyssey, Pako: Endlessly all carried out with no hitch. You received’t have any hassle with efficiency on this telephone.
I’m not a fan of the quantity of storage you get for the bottom Pixel four XL: 64GB. That’s far too little for a $900 telephone, particularly when $350 telephones just like the Nokia 7.2 provide the identical quantity. Google, it is advisable bump up storage choices and make 128GB the usual.
A missing battery
All of the superb options on this telephone are overshadowed by the battery Google determined to pack inside. At a time when most Android producers are tossing in batteries larger than four,000mAh, Google’s use of a Three,700mAh cell looks like a joke. It might probably get you thru a workday with medium to excessive use, however I continuously would hit 30% round 5:30 p.m., generally even much less. It’s not dangerous for mild to medium customers, however not so nice for energy customers.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
If I needed to increase my night time out and hit a restaurant or bar, my telephone would die round 9:30 or 10 p.m. if I didn’t have a transportable battery on me. I’m unsure why Google can’t work out the battery life on its Pixel telephones, as a result of it’s been an issue for me with each single Pixel telephone I’ve ever reviewed. Toss in an even bigger battery, Google! Do what Apple did this yr and make your telephone thicker. It’s not onerous. I’ve hit 20% round midnight on the iPhone 11 Professional Max because of its superb battery life, and I want Google’s telephone might do the identical.
Fortunately the issue may be mitigated through the use of a Qi wi-fi charger by your desk as you’re employed or by a transportable battery pack, but it surely’s not nice that it’s a must to go to those lengths.
In our customary video playback check, the place we play a 1080p YouTube video on max brightness over Wi-Fi, the Pixel four XL lasted 9 hours and 31 minutes. That’s respectable, however falls behind opponents just like the iPhone 11 Professional, which scored 12 hours and 30 minutes, and the OnePlus 7T Professional, which lasted 12 hours and 19 minutes.
I’ve hit 20% round midnight on the iPhone 11 Professional Max because of its superb battery life, and I want Google’s telephone might do the identical.
It’s a disgrace Google didn’t choose to improve its fast-charging tech, both. It nonetheless makes use of the Energy Supply 2.zero customary as an alternative of the newer PD Three.zero; you’ll be able to absolutely cost the Pixel four XL from zero to 100% in round an hour and a half, however you don’t get the burst of juice while you initially plug it in as you’ll be able to with the Galaxy Notice 10 Plus, which is useful in a pinch.
Value, availability, and guarantee data
The Pixel four XL is $899, however if you need the smaller Pixel four, it prices much less at $799. Each telephones can be found from all main U.S. carriers and a number of other retailers beginning October 24.
Google provides a regular restricted guarantee that protects the telephone from manufacturing defects one yr from the date of buy.
There’s possible no Android telephone I’d slightly use than the Pixel four XL, and that’s due to its useful, good software program and killer digicam. The 90Hz display helps, too. However that does imply I’ll have to sacrifice all-day battery life which may be discovered on opponents, and I’ll be tethered to a transportable battery pack.
I’d suggest ready to purchase the telephone for a couple of months, as Google usually drops the worth, and it’s a lot better worth at $799 slightly than its listed value.
Is there a greater different?
Sure. The iPhone 11 Professional Max prices extra however has important deserves, similar to even higher efficiency, a flexible digicam, and gorgeous battery life. In the event you don’t care a lot for the digicam on a telephone, Samsung’s Galaxy Notice 10 and Notice 10 Plus will fulfill in each method, and might nonetheless ship stable, various pictures.
You need to most positively take into account the OnePlus 7T, although. It additionally has a 90Hz display, it’s speedy, will get updates quick, and has extra customizable software program. And it prices much less, beginning at $600. Try our information to the perfect smartphones for extra.
How lengthy will it final?
The Pixel four XL will final you two to 3 years, if not slightly extra earlier than the battery begins to depreciate. It has an IP68 water-resistance score, so that you don’t have to fret about dips within the pool, but it surely’s wrapped in glass so that you’ll nonetheless need to nab a case.
Do you have to purchase it?
Sure. The Pixel four XL may not be the perfect Android telephone of 2019 due to its sub-par battery life, but it surely comes tremendous shut. Wait a couple of weeks or months, and also you’ll positively begin seeing reductions. Decide it up then.