Google finally unveiled its smartphones for 2020, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Right from the surface, I realized two things: 1. That Google could no longer shy away from the industry’s craze for multi camera setup and 2. Abandonment of the fingerprint scanner.
The lovers of crisp smartphone photography must be thrilled by the news that Google has joined the multi camera setup. Today the industry standard is 3 cameras, but Google still thinks that two camera setup is just enough. Actually from Pixel through to Pixel 3 Google managed to stay with a single camera setup and at the same remain one of the leaders in smartphone photography. By adding a telephoto 16 MP camera to the primary 12 MP f/1.7 lens, your guess is as good as mine, Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL photos will be one of the best in the smartphone world. Heck, the phone already promise to deliver beautiful astrophotography. Just pick up your phone, shoot the stars at night, and feel like an astrophysicist.
Dropping fingerprint scanner is a minus on my part. I love securing my phones with both of my index fingers. Then when I pick the phone with whichever hand the index finger automatically slides to the back and opens the phone so effortlessly … at least for the phones that I have owned. I am yet to try phones that have front fingerprint scanners, or even the on screen fingerprint scanner that came with Samsung Galaxy Note 10.
Face unlock is something I have tried but I always disable it as soon as possible. That’s because not only hasn’t Face unlock worked seamlessly with the phones that I have owned, but also those with facial shape that looks closely with mine have managed to unlock my phones with their faces. For Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL however, the face unlock technology is said to be so secure that you can use them for securing payment apps including purchases done at Google Play Store.
The technology for Google’s Face unlock is both Infrared sensor and a tiny radar sensor. There is also an illuminator that should illuminate your face when you want to unlock the phone in the dark. Users have to buy this phone and use it for several weeks for me to believe that the face unlock in the two devices is actually worth its salt. Those who have tested the devices unveiled by Google at the Google event in New York praise the face unlock tech.
Then there is the display on the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. DisplayMate has given the phones A+, terming the displays as the best in the market currently. The OLED displays are best not just because they are crisp, but also because they feature a 90Hz refresh rate, which means when viewing photos you are able to view them in the best way possible, without having to see any distortions. But since 90Hz refresh rate consumes a lot of battery juice, Google has given users the ability to turn it on or off, or rather, toggle between the standard 60Hz and 90Hz refresh rate. Added to the display tech is Ambient EQ, which gives the display the ability to change screen color depending on environment outside – so that what you see on screen is always close to true colours.
The haters of the notch have been made happy too. Instead of housing the front facing camera and other sensors in a notch, Google has decided that a forehead bezel will work much better. On this bezel Google has put on the 8 MP front facing camera, motion sensor called Motion Sense (a Soli chip) and other sensors like the tiny radar sensor.
For Kshs 80,000 for Google Pixel 4 or Kshs 90,000 for Google Pixel XL, you get a phone with 64GB of storage. Note that the only difference between the phones is the physical size, as every other spec is the same across board. Both phones run on Snapdragon 855 7nm technology, are powered by Android 10 out of the box, and all the other specs already discussed above.
If there is one critical aspect of the two devices is the way Google has integrated Google Assistant. Those of us with normal Android phones have basically two methods of waking up the Assistant – either by long pressing the Home Key, or by calling out “Hey Google” or “Okay Google”. For the Pixel 4 devices, Google has allowed one to also tap by the sides, or just slide a finger diagonally from bottom left to top left.
The integration also means there are so much more the Assistant can do when it comes to phone operations that includes opening and controlling compatible Apps, setting up things like reminders, etc. These phone based functions are now natively built into the phone, meaning the Assistant will not have to call on Google servers for answers. The times the Assistant needs to visit the servers is when one needs online based information e.g. traffic, weather, or web information. The Assistant has also for the first time been allowed to hold a meaningful conversation – which takes it a step closer to being a true personal assistant for the phone user.