Yesterday, Google finally revealed it’s next flagship phone for the year, the Google Pixel 4. However, it was not much of a reveal as most of the phone had already been leaked prior to the event. We knew most, if not all of the details about the phone. Google still had a few tricks up its sleeve though with some software improvements, especially in the camera department.
The Google Pixel 4, despite its amazing software prowess, still didn’t quite hit the mark in the hardware department though. Many were left dissatisfied after the press briefing had ended. This doesn’t mean that the Pixel 4 is bad by any means.
People just expect Google to be at the forefront of Android innovation and set a benchmark for the rest of the industry to follow. However, the Pixel 4 lacks a number of features that might be deal breakers for a lot of people. So, here are a few things that you should take into consideration before you go out and buy a Google Pixel 4.
1. Bigger bezels than most modern smartphones
In terms of overall design, the Google Pixel 4 exuberates a very low-key yet sleek design language. The black aluminum sides sandwiched between a matte finished back (except the black model) and the screen are just super clean and make the phone just that much satisfying to hold.
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However, where things start to fall apart for Google is the display. In a world where most smartphone companies are pushing to minimize bezels on their phones, Google is still struggling to find a direction.
Honestly, I prefer the top bezel over an oversized notch like last year’s Pixel 3. Furthermore, it actually does serve a purpose as Google has a plethora of sensors in there and a speaker for stereo sound as well. However, the chin at the bottom doesn’t serve any purpose and is just a waste of space. It doesn’t look that bad in renders but is definitely noticeable when held in person.
2. The display on Pixel 4 isn’t the brightest
In addition to the larger bezels around the screen, the display itself isn’t that great either. Yes, it is a 90Hz display which makes a massive difference in terms of usability. However, it just isn’t bright enough and you’d have to squint a little harder to read what’s on it under direct sunlight.
In comparison, most flagship displays are very bright these days to the point where you might not even need to push them to their limit under direct sunlight. Having a higher refresh rate display isn’t an excuse either as many others like OnePlus 7T have high refresh rate displays that are also very bright at the same time.
3. Lack of an ultra-wide camera
Google is arguably still the best at mobile photography, especially in the software department. Nothing beats the Pixel’s extremely high dynamic range and night sight. Google has been relying on software processing to do all of this impressive stuff over the years with just a single lens.
This year, Google had the chance to step up its game with the Pixel 4 by using multiple lenses in that pretty sizeable square camera bump. However, the company decided to go with a secondary telephoto lens on the Pixel 4 and ruled out an ultra-wide angle camera lens.
Yes, the telephoto zoom that Google showed at the event is impressive. That doesn’t have to come at the expense of an ultra-wide lens though. Most modern flagships, including the iPhone 11 have ultra-wide camera lenses as well as the telephoto.
Furthermore, you can make a zoomed image look good using software processing but you cannot fake an ultra-wide lens with software. So, this is a massive missed opportunity for Google as the Pixel 4 camera with an ultra-wide lens would have been the perfect camera.
4. No 4K60 Video on the Pixel 4
The Google Pixel 4 is not only great with photography. Google’s software processing and HDR during video recordings is also very rigorous and does a very good job of turning a normal video into something that looks extremely pleasing to the eye.
The software is so good that I use the Google Camera port on my other smartphone as well for video and photo. Furthermore, the image stabilization and auto-focus are also second to none. However, Google has missed yet another feature with the Pixel 4 that most other flagship phones these days have, 4K60 video.
It is kind of baffling why Google hasn’t included 4K 60FPS video recording in the Pixel 4. I mean, even the iPhone 11’s front camera is capable of 4K60 video. In addition to that, we already know that the Snapdragon 855 being used in the Pixel 4 is perfectly capable of 4K60 video recording. So, another missed opportunity here from Google.
5. Smaller battery for the smaller Pixel 4
2019 has been the year of big smartphone batteries. We’re seeing flagship phones consistently break the 4,000 mAh barrier and, consequently, produce great results. However, the bigger battery sizes are also crucial for modern smartphones because of larger displays and higher refresh rates.
The Pixel 4 XL comes with a 3700 mAh battery, which seems very decent for a flagship running stock Android. However, the smaller and standard Pixel 4 only has a 2800 mAh battery, which is just not good enough for an Android flagship in 2019. So, if you’re in the market for a Pixel 4, the bigger model will definitely have much better battery life.
6. Not the best version of Android
When a company makes both the software and the hardware for a device, you’d expect those two to work pretty well together. Apple has been doing it for years and they’re the masters of software optimization. However, for some reason, this is not the case with Google.
The Google Pixel phones are supposed to be the benchmark for other smartphone companies in terms of software and hardware optimization. They should, in theory, have the best and the most fluid Android experience out there.
Somehow, Google still hasn’t quite managed to figure out what’s wrong with their devices. The RAM management on the Pixel devices can get atrocious at times and they do tend to get slower over time. In comparison, Oxygen OS, which is the OnePlus’ take on Android, just blazes through everything you throw at it and shows no signs of slowing down even after many years.
However, at the end of the day, the Google Pixel 4 is still a fantastic device with probably the best camera in a smartphone. If you’re into photography and really want the purest of Android experience with instant updates, nothing beats the Google Pixel 4. Yes, these shortcomings can be significant for some people, but they might not be deal breakers for a lot of people who just want a solid phone.
For more updates on the Google Pixel 4 and the full review, stay tuned!