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  • Cheryl Tan

Google Pixel 4 Review: Where’s My Ultrawide?!

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

The most leaked phone in the history of phones, the new Google Pixel 4 is finally in our hands. Do the cameras still retain their lead in the market? Let’s take a look.

First, design. Besides the square housing on the back for the cameras, what we really like about the new design is the matte bezel that makes the phone much easier to grip. Compared to the slippery stainless steel bezel of the iPhone 11, you’ll definitely find that it feels slightly better and more secure.

The glossy back is a fingerprint magnet, but there are skins and cases available out there and you’ll most likely end up never looking at the back again after you put those on. Google has moved away from the dual front-facing speakers from the Pixel 3 and moved the second speaker to the bottom of the Pixel 4 XL.

The Pixel 4 and 4 XL are running on a Snapdragon 855 processor, so those waiting for a Snapdragon 855+ will be disappointed. It’s not a dealbreaker as it still performs well and is fast enough for most users out there. There’s 6GB of RAM and up to 128GB of onboard storage with no expandability. There’s always Google Drive if you really require more space for your photos and files.

There’s a 6.3″ QHD+ OLED display on the Pixel 4 XL and a 5.7″ FHD+ OLED display on the Pixel 4. Colours are bright and vibrant and the display now goes up to 90Hz. The difference really can be seen even when just scrolling and browsing webpages.

The cameras on Google phones are legendary, and with this new iteration of the Pixel 4, you get two rear cameras, a 16MP telephoto and a 12MP standard/wide-angle lens.

There’s an 8MP on the front and you still have the same great photo quality that was on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. Night Sight works great, it’s even a little better than last year’s Pixel 3 because now the ability to take astrophotography shots has been added into the Pixel 4 and 4 XL.

The reason why we called it the Pixel 3 XL Mark II, is because there really isn’t a lot of difference aside from the telephoto zoom lens. And even for that lens, you can’t tap to go to a specific focal length like other phones or the iPhone. You’ll have to pinch and expand to zoom in and out, basically guessing whether you’re using digital or optical zoom, or how far you’re zooming in.

Image quality is still good though. Photos are contrasty and have plenty of detail, but you can tell there’s a lot of processing going on. Videos still aren’t Google’s forte, it can do video but it’s definitely not the phone for you if you’re looking to do a lot of video.

The big elephant in the room has to be addressed. Why did Google opt to go for a wide-angle lens instead of an ultra-wide-angle lens like most other phone manufacturers out there? Honestly, we don’t know either.

But consider this, Google has access to so much data that we don’t. Maybe they feel that the wide-angle is a better lens to include. Maybe they know something that we don’t, and they’re ahead of the curve. Either way, this is what Google is giving us and this is what customers need to make do with if they buy the Pixel 4 and 4 XL.

The cool new feature in this phone is the radar system. You can wave your hand over the phone to wake it before picking it up so that the facial recognition is already turned on and your phone will unlock faster than ever.

The feature is limited to waking the phone, turning off alarms and skipping music tracks for now, but Google has mentioned that they’re looking to incorporate it into more apps and add more functionality to it, like adjusting volume levels and such.

Battery life is decent, but a little disappointing that Google didn’t manage to put a bigger battery in. 3,700mAh comes in very average, and while you’ll still get a day’s usage out of a full charge, we expected to see something closer to 4,500mAh.

Overall, the Pixel 4 XL is a good phone and has great imaging, but take away the radar feature and there’s really not much that’s been changed from the Pixel 3. And that’s why we’re calling this the Pixel 3 XL Mark II.

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