The Google Pixel series offers an excellent Android experience and one of the best cameras you can buy. But how does the new Pixel 4 stand up against the recent crop of high quality smartphone releases? Let’s take a look.
First impression and design
Like last year’s model, the Pixel 4 version sports a matte plastic back with a soft feel in its pastel orange or white colourways. The exception is the black version, which has a glossier look.
The Pixel 4 is perfectly weighted and extremely light. It feels compact and slightly narrower than the similarly sized iPhone 11.
The camera housing at the back is a rounded black square which looks similar to the camera square found on the new iPhone 11s. It protrudes only slightly, but it does stand out more than the Pixel 3’s single lens.
The Pixel 4 and all its box contents. You won’t find a pair of earphones, and you’ll need to buy a USB-audio adaptor if you want to connect your wired earphones.
The Pixel 4 doesn’t ship with a case. Instead, Google offers a great looking canvas finish case in a selection of colours. At £35, these cases are cheaper than Apple’s iPhone cases, and they’ll certainly keep your new Pixel protected.
The Pixel 4’s display is free from obstructions. The trade-off? The selfie camera, front flash and gesture sensors are housed in a ‘forehead’ style bar above the display.
The AMOLED screen in the Pixel 4 is lower in both resolution and brightness than the one found on the Galaxy S10, but it’s a decent size and is good for scrolling through your everyday content.
Great for casual YouTube watching, but if you regularly use your phone for TV or movies may need to keep the brightness turned up to high.
The screen is perfectly visible in mild sunlight, but can get hard to see on an exceptionally bright day.
The Pixel 4 is one of the few smartphones using both the speaker at the bottom and the earpiece for stereo sound, giving great depth of sound. It’s really good for playing music out loud - especially classical, pop and hip-hop.
The Pixel 4 display is built with Gorilla Glass 5, and while this isn’t the industry-leading Gorilla Glass 6 it’s still strong and sturdy. It’s wrapped in an aluminum frame too, so it feels robust despite its slim shape.
||Gorilla Glass 5 and aluminium frame
||147 x 69 x 8.2 mm
||1080 x 2280 pixels with 444-ppi pixel density
||Water and dust resistant to IP68 standard
Two camera lenses inside a square at the back.
Last year’s Pixel 3 blew us away with its exceptional camera. Only a few competitors could rival its performance, especially in low light, and Google seemed to have found the winning formula with its single lens setup. Come 2019 the Pixel 4 also has an excellent camera, and this is an area where Google takes a lot of pride.
Overall, the camera is among the best. The telephoto lens delivers fantastic results, especially thanks to the zoom software. You can pinch to zoom, safe in the knowledge that it will make the right exposure and lens decision so you always get sharp shots.
A new camera feature worth mentioning is Astrophotography - which lets you take amazingly clear photos of the night sky. Astrophotography mode works by taking super-long exposure shots, of up to 4 minutes. Just make sure you keep your phone still for the duration, or better still pop it on a tripod.
However, the Pixel 4 is lacking a wide-angle lens, which is something newer premium phones, like the iPhone 11 and Galaxy S10, have been shouting about.
The selfie camera shoots at 90-degree angle that takes great portraits.
Google no longer offers full, free access to the Google Photos cloud to all Pixel users.
You also get unlimited storage to Google Photos, so you can save your phone’s storage space and not worry about taking too many photos.
Video resolution is 1080 at 60fps (frames-per-second) or 4K at 30fps .So you can record clips to go with your photos.
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||12MP, f/1.7 with depth sensor
||1080p@30/60/120fps or 4K@30fps
|Optical image stabilisation
||On both the main and zoom camera
Performance and battery life
The Pixel 4 comes with a decent 6GB of RAM and two storage size options - 64GB and 128GB. More than enough for most people.
The same technology used for face recognition powers a fun new feature - Air Gestures. By waving your hand above the phone, you can control your music as well as snoozing your alarm.
In an emergency, medical info can be accessed without unlocking the Pixel 4. This could be pretty useful if you ever have an accident.
Performance wise, the Pixel 4 smooth and as fast as the best smartphones around - up there with the likes of the OnePlus 7T and Galaxy S10.
For the Pixel 4, Google has done away with a fingerprint sensor entirely and uses advanced facial recognition for unlocking.
It’s also one of the fastest and more reliable face recognition systems we have ever tested, even better than the one seen on the iPhone 11 series.
The catch? You can even unlock your phone with your eyes closed, which may lead to some security concerns.
The battery on the Pixel 4 is a 2800mAh, which can keep you going for a whole day. But keep an eye out if you’re prone to long gaming sessions, a lot of cameras use or other activities involving extended screen use as this may result in needing a charge towards the end of the day.
|OS and Version
Value and verdict
The Pixel 4 is peak Google
We had high expectations for the Pixel 4, the excellent camera and outstanding software we were treated with on the Pixel 3 are still there but it is a lot harder for this model to stand out against the competition this time.
You’ll enjoy seamless Google Assistant integration and best in class AI support, however the Pixel 4 doesn’t quite match up to the Galaxy S10 or the iPhone 11 Pro. That said, it’s cheaper than both those devices so if you’re after an Android smartphone that has a stylish design, runs smoothly and takes excellent photos - the Pixel 4 stands out.
Unsure if the Pixel 4 is the right handset for you? You can compare phones of all makes and models, using our phone comparison table.