Google’s Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL leaked more than any device the company had previously made, and it was very exciting to see a lot. Now, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL’s early reviews have hit the web, and unfortunately the consensus isn’t that good.
Google finally fixed performance this year and other bugs on the Pixel 4 starting with the positive ones. The upgrade to 6 GB of RAM appears to have made a huge difference from the Pixel 3 series, and from a software and performance perspective, Android Central calls this the “cleanest and most full-formed Pixel released to date”.
Google has nailed the Pixel 4’s hardware design. Gizmodo says the Pixel 4 wins by being “more human.” While there’s a lot of that in the software that we’ll get to later, it’s also about the physical materials. The matte glass back of the white and orange Pixel 4 devices feels “more like leather— or dare I say— human skin.” Further more, the Verge says this is Google’s best phone ever built, calling matte rails its favorite feature.
Speaking of the hardware, the Soli radar chip from Pixel 4 was a core part of many mixed-results reviews. The common thread through most reviews is how sometimes the sensor worked, but it didn’t work at all at other times. Things like skipping songs have been hit or missed and have a steep learning curve, but much more appreciated were the other Soli-enabled things. The Verge states the following:
The Pixel 4’s other highlight was its really quick Face Unlock. Just as Google said, this is one of the fastest systems on a smartphone and on the Pixel 4, thanks in particular to the identification of the Soli chip when you’re about to pick up your phone. Almost every review, however, listed the feature’s privacy loophole working even with the user’s eyes closed. Luckily, Google said it’s going to be fixed. Plus, there’s the mobile problem. Currently, Face Unlock is currently supported by only 5 apps in the Play Store, and this will likely not change for a while. Android Central says the following:
There’s the new display as well. Google is again using good OLED displays, but not quite good at Samsung, but the highlight is the refresh rate of 90Hz. The same feature that we loved on phones like the OnePlus 7 T is on Google’s phones, making Android look as smooth as it is. Engadget explains, but you have to experience this in person.
The tidbit of hardware is the speaker. While the front-facing speakers have been ditched by Google, Mr. Mobile says sound is “supreme” for music and phone calls too with bright and spacious audio.
Google Assistant is also seeing a huge update on Pixel 4 and has been lauded in reviews along with all the other clever tech tricks included by Google such as the Recorder app and Live Caption. VentureBeat notes that local commands are much quicker, but not all commands are affected.
Really though, in Pixel 4 reviews it was all about the cameras. Yes, video isn’t good yet. Yes, there’s no camera at all. But dang it, it’s incredible these cameras. Due to its very clever software still shots tend to be what Google totally nails with brilliant details and colors. In the galleries below, Android Central compared the Pixel 4 to the Pixel 3 and iPhone 11 Pro and praised the dual-exposure controls on every review.
Also, the new telephoto lens helps with zoomed-in shots, helping zoomed 8x shots look much better than you would get from a Samsung or Apple device. In the comparison below, Engadget shows how good the quality is.
However, all these great aspects have the battery life asterisk. Pixel 4 reviews make it clear that this year’s battery life is worse than it was before. Many reviewers say the device could last a full day technically but it usually required a charge before bedtime. The smaller Pixel 4 needs a lot of battery management to keep it alive where at least a bit stronger is the Pixel 4 XL. The Verge explains the following:
At the end of the day, this poor battery life hurts the whole Pixel 4 experience. Most Pixel 4 reviews praise the phone in many ways, but the fact that they will die quicker than most phones today is hard to overlook. At their price points of $799 and $899, that’s a very difficult pill to swallow.