News: Everything You Need to Know About the Google Pixel 4

Everything You Need to Know About the Google Pixel 4

With the new year comes a new pair of smartphones from the company behind the Android platform. It seems it was only a few months ago that Google announced the Pixel 3 and 3 XL with its somewhat disappointing design. It seems they heard the critics and for the first time, will deliver.

Thanks to Google's acquisition of 2,000 HTC engineers who previously worked on the Pixel devices, Google is now fully into the hardware business, with the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL being the first smartphones entirely designed in-house. The Google Pixel 4 (and 4 XL) will be designed by the same team, but this time, it won't look like the previous Pixels.

However, this change isn't without compromise. As with the headphone jack, there will be lost features in pursuit of a better design. But based on early leaks, it's a sacrifice fans will be able to get behind.

Jump to a section: Standout Features | Dates | Storage | Price | Body | Basics | Software | Skin | Display | Performance | Battery | Front Camera | Rear Camera | Audio | Media Formats | Sensors | Connectivity | Security | Box Includes | Accessories

Standout Features

The Google Pixel 4 will have an all-new design for the front and rear of the phone with minimal bezels and no notch. The top and bottom bezels will also be minimal, forcing the removal of the front-facing stereo speakers. It will use facial recognition similar to Face ID and finally upgrade the rear cameras to include multiple lenses.

Important Dates

As with each of the last Pixel launches, the Google Pixel 4 will likely be launch within the first two weeks of October. This was later confirmed by Evan Blass, who leaked a Verizon timeline which revealed upcoming phone releases, including the Google Pixel 4. Preorders will start the day of the event, and it will release within a week of the announcement date.

  • Release date: October 2019
  • Preorder date: October 2019
  • Announced: October 2019

Storage Capacity

Our best guess is the Google Pixel 4 (and 4 XL) will come with at least 128 GB of storage. There should also be a second model with 256 GB. While there are smartphones with 512 GB and 1 TB of internal storage, Google usual only offers storage options on the low end. With it releasing late in the year, there is a chance Google includes UFS 3.0 support. If so, expect read and write speeds over two times faster than the Google Pixel 3. And just like its predecessor, it will not support expandable storage.

  • Storage available: 128 GB and 256 GB
  • Expandable storage: no

Price for Everything

We expect both the Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL to increase pricing by $100. With the Pixel 3's retailing for $799, this would mean the smaller of two phones would start at $899. Based on the Google Pixel 3 XL's $899 starting price, we expect the Pixel 4 XL to start at $999, marking it the first Pixel smartphone to have a variant over $1,000.

  • Price: $899 (Google Pixel 4) , $999 (Google Pixel 4 XL)

Body

The body will use the same material found in most flagship smartphones in 2019, glass on the back and front to allow for wireless charging, and an aluminum frame for durability. Google has even confirmed some basics of the design by releasing a render of the phone on their official MadeByGoogle Twitter account. The distinguishing dual-finish back is gone this time, replaced with a single finish like most other phones.

  • Frame: aluminum, glass
  • Finish: white, black, mint green
The Pixel 4. Image by MadeByGoogle/Twitter

Basics

We currently don't know what the dimensions will be, but early rumors indicate it will be around the same size as its predecessor. However, we can reasonably expect it to be IP68 water and dust resistant, support all four wireless carriers (as well as US Cellular and Google Fi), and not have an infrared blaster. Active Edge will return, allowing you to call up Google Assistant with a squeeze of the phone's sides.

  • Height: 5.78 inches (Google Pixel 4), 6.31 inches (Google Pixel 4 XL)
  • Width: 2.71 inches (Google Pixel 4), 2.97 inches (Google Pixel 4 XL)
  • Depth: 0.32 inches (0.37 inches with camera bump)
  • Weight: Unknown
  • Dust/water resistance: IP68
  • Supported carriers: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, Google Fi
  • Infrared blaster: no

As with all phones nowadays, we expect the Pixel 4 to have an operating temperature of 32°F to 95°F.

  • Operating temp: 32º to 95º F
  • Nonoperating temp: ##º to ##º F
  • Relative humidity: ##º to ##º F noncondensing
  • Operating altitude: up to ##,### feet (though could be more)

Software

The Nexus/Pixel lineup has always been a way for Google to introduce the world to the latest version of Android. While in some years, other phones beat it to the punch, the newest Pixel phone will always be the first running stock Android of the box. The latest version of Android this year is Android 10 The Pixel 4 and 4 XL will run this version and be one of only a handful of phones running the latest version at the time of its release.

  • Version: Android 10

Skin

The Pixel lineup always runs stock Android. While this version isn't exactly ASOP (Android Open Source Project), it's about as close as you will get to "pure" Android outside of custom ROMs. It will have a few enhancements for Pixel users, such as Active Edge and additional special features which Google decides to add to the Pixel 4.

  • Version: stock Android (Pixel version)

Display

We currently don't know what the size of the display on either phone will be, but we can make some educated guesses. Since it is unlikely Google reduces the size, we believe the Pixel 4 will be at least 5.5" while the 4 XL will be at least 6.3". Both will have OLED panels (more than likely produced by Samsung) with support for HDR and always-on display. We expect the Pixel 4 XL to have a QHD+ resolution and the Pixel 4 to have at least an FHD+ resolution. This will also be a more color accurate display, using the P3 gamut for the first time (the same used by iPhones).

Rumors indicate that the "forehead" will be as large as the Google Pixel 2 XL, while the chin will be one of the smallest in the industry. Because chin is limited by the display drivers which connect at the bottom of the display, this means the screen will either be set upside-down or will be bent. Each method does come with some downsides, with the former usually leading to jelly-scrolling effect and the latter equalling higher cost as the bending method is a difficult task to perform. Either way, expect the phone to share a similar look to the Sony Xperia 10.

With Google Stadia launching in November, there is a chance Google opts for a higher refresh rate display to help promote the new gaming platform. As it stands, only the Pixel 3 and 3a are compatible (alongside their XL counterpoints) with the service on the mobile side, with all expectations being the Pixel 4 will be on that list. Since the service will eventually be able to run a frame rate of over 60 fps, Google could opt for a higher refresh rate screen, which can output that many frames.

Rumors also indicate that it will have a Google's version of Apple's True Tone, allowing the display to automatically adjust white balance based on the surrounding area. The screen will appear more consistent and be one less feature iPhone fans can claim they have over the Pixel devices.

  • Screen size: 5.6-5.8 inches (Google Pixel 4), 6.25 inches (Google Pixel 4 XL)
  • Screen resolution: min. 1080p (Google Pixel 4), min. 1440p (Google Pixel 4 XL)
  • Total pixels: Unknown
  • Pixel density: Unknown
  • Screen type: OLED
  • Notch: no
  • Screen-to-body ratio: Unknown
  • Aspect ratio: Unknown
  • Minimum brightness: Unknown
  • Maximum brightness:Unknown
  • Refresh rate: 60 Hz (60 Hz for touch-sensing)
  • Color temp:Unknown
  • Color gamut: P3
Image by Steve H.McFly/Twitter

Performance

The SoC of choice for 2019 Android flagships in the US is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855. The Google Pixel 4 will come with this system-on-a-chip. We don't know if Google will once again underclock the SoC to help compensate for the smaller battery. Early rumors indicate this is the year they finally upgrade the RAM to 6 GB, but we will believe it when we see it.

  • Memory: 6 GB RAM
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
  • Chip size: 7 nanometer
  • CPU frequency: 2.84 GHz (1x Gold), 2.41 GHz (3x Gold), 1.78 GHz (4x Silver)
  • CPU cores: 8 Cores (4 Gold + 4 Silver)
  • GPU: Adreno 640

Battery

Based on its predecessor, we expect a battery of at least 2,915 mAh in the Pixel 4 and at least 3,430 mAh in the Pixel 4 XL. It will support wireless charging via the Qi standard. It will support fast wired charging using USB Power Delivery and include this charger in the box.

  • Battery: rechargeable lithium-ion
  • Capacity: 2,915 mAh (Google Pixel 4), 3,430 mAh (Google Pixel 4 XL)
  • Wired charging: yes, USB Power Delivery
  • Wireless charging: yes, Qi charging

Front Camera

The top bezel will house four (or five) different imaging units, two of which are cameras. Rumors have it that one of them is Soli Radar, a new component introduced by Google that enables touchless gestures (think LG G8 ThinQ, but better).

As far as the second (and potentially third) component, it's anyone's guess. However, based on the current state of smartphones, if there are an additional two more sensors, Google is likely implementing facial recognition for the first time in the Pixel series. This would make sense, as Android 10 will be the first version to support this form of biometrics. We also have seen this method of authentication achieved using just a ToF sensor, so it is possible.

What this means for photography is a much better selfie camera. Google already improved their front-facing cameras by including a second wide-angle lens, but if the facial recognition rumor is true, the same sensors used to implement the technology will also improve photography. This is because this camera creates depth maps when trying to decipher if the face looking at the display is actually you. By allowing the camera app access to this data, portrait mode photos can better keep you in focus. AR should also be better with these sensors, such as better filter application in third-party apps like Snapchat.

  • Resolution: Unknown
  • Aperture: Unknown
  • Zoom: Unknown
  • Flash: Unknown
  • Image stabilization: yes, EIS
  • RAW support: Unknown
  • Object detection: Unknown
  • Formats: Unknown
Image by Steve H.McFly/Twitter

Rear Camera

Leaks indicate the Google Pixel 4 will house all its cameras in a square module similar to the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. The Pixel 4 will come with three cameras, two camera lenses and one 3D ToF (time of flight) sensor. Early speculation is that the second lens will be a telephoto lens, giving the Pixel 4 much needed optical zoom.

However, with ultrawide lenses all the range, don't be surprised if the second lens is, in fact, ultrawide instead. Combine that with the fact that it will likely have a ToF sensor, this makes ultrawide even more possible, as this imaging component is used for depth mapping in bokeh effect pictures. This would remove one major responsibility of the telephoto lens, depth mapping. There is also an LED flash and a microphone.

In addition, Google will update the camera app to make it easier to use. With dual cameras for the first time, Google is hard at work calibrating the app to best capture the data available from two cameras for even better photos. We also know popular features such as Night Sight will be easier to use, switching to a dedicated tab instead of buried in the "More" section of the camera app.

  • Resolution: Unknown
  • Sensor size: Unknown
  • Aperture: Unknown
  • Zoom: Unknown
  • Flash: yes, LED
  • Image stabilization: yes, OIS and EIS
  • RAW support: yes
  • Lens cover: sapphire crystal
  • Object detection: Unknown
  • Formats: JPEG, RAW
Image by @Slashleaks/Twitter

Videography should be similar to its predecessor with video capture up to 4K at 60 fps. Slow motion should improve to up to 480 fps at 720p thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845. We don't know how Google will handle the dual camera system in video. Whether they give users access to both in video is anyone's guess.

  • Resolution: 720p, 1080p, and 4K
  • Max frame rate: 30 fps for 720p, 60 fps for 1080p and 4K
  • Slow motion: yes, 1080p at 120 or 240 fps and 720p at 480 fps
  • Time-lapse: yes, Unknown
  • Photos: Unknown
  • Zoom: Unknown
  • Flash access: Unknown
  • Image stabilization: Unknown
  • Object detection: Unknown
  • Autofocus: Unknown
  • Audio: stereo
  • Formats: H.264, H.265
Image by Unbox Therapy/YouTube

Audio

Despite the return of the headphone jack in the Google Pixel 3a, it will not return in the Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL. This was expected as it has been missing now for two years with most of the industry moving in that direction. Maybe next year there will be a Google Pixel 4a which keeps the port.

There will not be front-facing stereo speakers. Instead, there are two speaker grills housed on either side of the USB-C port. Either Google will sacrifice audio performance once again in a Pixel device and reduce the Pixel 4 to a mono speaker, or they might get creative. With four (or five) imaging sensors already in the top bezel (and potentially the display adapter), we don't see how they could include a large enough earpiece to act as a second speaker.

What is possible is Google could borrow LG's technology and implement the Crystal Sound OLED, turning the display into a speaker. We know Google and LG have a close relationship, so there's a chance they share this technology with Google. And since we can say with high confidence the Pixel 4 will come with an OLED panel, it would theoretically be possible for this to happen.

  • 3.5 mm headphone jack: no
  • Stereo speakers: yes, dual bottom firing speakers
  • Mics: 3
  • Max speaker volume: ## dB

Media Formats

Since this is a Google designed phone, it will have the usual list of codecs supported by Android. There are a few new additions to this list: Opus, AV1, and HDR10+. Opus is an open and royalty-free codec that offers better quality than MP3. AV1 is an open and royalty-free video codec that acts as an alternative to H.264.

  • Audio: MP3, AAC, AAC+, WMA, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, WAV, FLAC, APE, OGG, MID, M4A, IMY, AC3, EAC3, EAC3-JOC, AC4, Opus
  • Video: MKV, MOV, MP4, H.265(HEVC), AVI, WMV, TS, 3GP, FLV, WEBM, HDR10+, AV1

Sensors

Based on the rumored inclusion of secure facial recognition, we expect the Google Pixel 4 to include a laser and infrared sensor. These are some of the best options for facial recognition, as they allow the system to generate an accurate 3D rendering of your face to store and to compare.

The phone is also rumored to have a new Project Soli sensor. This is a new radar sensor which tracks sub-millimeter motions. Similar to the LG G8 ThinQ, it looks like you will be able to control your phone without touching it, although this implementation should be much more accurate. This sensor will be one of the five imaging sensors in the top bezels alongside the front-facing camera. There will also likely be a 3D ToF sensor (time of flight) in the rear camera and potentially the front camera as well.

  • Accelerometer: yes
  • Ambient light: yes
  • Barometer: yes
  • Color temperature: yes
  • Compass: yes
  • Gravity: no
  • Gyroscope: yes
  • Hall: yes
  • Infrared: yes
  • Laser: yes
  • Pedometer: no
  • Proximity: yes

We expect the Google Pixel 4 to offer the same support for satellite navigation systems.

  • GPS: yes
  • aGPS: yes
  • Glonass: yes
  • BeiDou: no
  • Galileo: yes
  • QZSS: no

Connectivity

The new system-on-a-chip powering the Google Pixel 4 supports Wi-Fi standards 80.211.ad, ay, and ax. However, so far, most phones have not included these additional standards, so for now, we don't expect the Pixel 4 to either. However, this could change, so we will keep you updated.

With greater support for dual SIM in Android 10, we believe making the unlocked version of Google Pixel 4 dual SIM makes perfect sense. On top of the fact that the Pixel 3 was dual SIM (via a second eSIM slot), it makes sense for Google to bring back this feature.

  • Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz + 5.0GHz
  • Bluetooth: 5.0
  • NFC: yes
  • Cellular: nano-SIM, eSIM
  • Port: USB Type-C

We don't know anything official regarding the bands of the new Pixel 4 but we expect at least the same LTE band support as its predecessor.

  • FDD-LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 32, 66, 71
  • CDMA EV-DO Rev. A BC0, BC1, BC10
  • GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

Security

We know the Pixel 4 doesn't include a separate, dedicated fingerprint scanner. This means for its primary form of biometrics, the Pixel 4 will either have an in-display fingerprint scanner or facial recognition.

Early rumors indicate the Pixel 4's biometric of choice will be facial recognition. Similar to Face ID, Google will house all the sensors in a top bezel and use them to make a 3D map of your face which it will store in the Titan M chip. Each time you try to unlock your phone, you look at the sensors, it compares your face to the map, and when it determines it is a match, it unlocks your device.

  • Fingerprint scanner: no
  • Face scanner: yes
  • Iris scanner: no
  • Manual authentication: password, PIN, pattern, swipe

Box Includes

We currently don't know what will be in the box.

Accessories

We don't know of any accessories that will be packaged with the Google Pixel 4.

Cover image via Jonas Daehnert/Twitter

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