News, Smartphone

Google Pixel 4 & Pixel 4 XL Finally Official with Radar Chip, 90Hz Display, Face Unlock

The Pixel 4 XL is easily one of the most leaked smartphones in recent memory, and Google has (finally) officially unveiled the phone along with the Pixel 4 today. Much of the phone’s new features have been tested by us in various articles, but there are still a number of new details shared by Google at the launch event, including pricing information.

First up, let’s talk about the differences between the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. There are just two things that separate these two phones apart: display and battery capacity. The Pixel 4 comes with a 5.7-inch FHD+ OLED display, while the XL model features a bigger and sharper 6.3-inch QHD+ OLED screen. Both are, of course, “Smooth Displays” with a fast 90Hz refresh rate.

As for battery capacity, the Pixel 4 only has a 2,800mAh battery; a far cry from the Pixel 4 XL’s much more practical 3,700mAh cell. Then again, the XL does need to power a larger and sharper display.

Beyond these two differences, both Pixel smartphones are identical to each other. They are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset (not the faster 855+, unfortunately) paired with 6GB of RAM, they come with either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage, and they are IP68-certified too. These phones also has a Pixel Neural Core coprocessor, which allows them to do some pretty cool stuff.

For example, the Neural Core makes it possible for the Pixel 4 smartphones to understand spoken English without communicating with Google’s server. This, in turn, makes the new Google Assistant work a lot faster. Besides that, it also allows a new app, Recorder, to do real-time transcribing of audio recordings completely offline.

Now, we don’t imagine this is a feature a lot of consumers would take advantage of, but it is impressive nonetheless.

Another big addition to the Pixel 4 smartphones is Face Unlock, which isn’t unlike Apple’s Face ID security system. As we’ve confirmed in our early hands-on, it works incredibly quickly, and it is the only biometric security available on the Pixel 4, for better or worse.

And then there’s Motion Sense, a feature enabled by Google’s Project Soli that’s been in development for years. Basically, Motion Sense uses radar to detect your presence. If you’re reaching out for the Pixel 4, it will activate the screen and Face Unlock. When you walk away from the phone, Motion Sense will switch off the always on display.

Beyond these two use case scenarios, other features offered by Motion Sense include waving your hand over the Pixel 4 to dismiss calls or snooze your alarm, or even using hand gestures to control music playback. Unfortunately, Motion Sense is only available in selected regions, and Malaysia doesn’t seem to be a part of it.

What about the camera system? Well, Google finally added a secondary camera to the Pixel 4 smartphones, so it now has a dual camera system. The primary shooter is a 12.2MP f/1.7 unit, while the other one is a 16MP f/2.4 telephoto lens. Nope, there is no ultra-wide angle shooter here.

In fact, Google even mentioned on stage that a telephoto sensor is more important than an ultra-wide angle camera.

Be that as it may, Google is implementing a number of cool software tricks to the Pixel 4’s camera. The camera app, for example, now allows you to adjust two sets of exposure: one for brightness, and another one just for shadows. This, in turn, opens up quite a number of shooting possibilities. It’s a tool photographers will especially appreciate.

Aside from that, Google also added a big quality of life improvement to the camera app: the viewfinder will now show real-time preview of what your final shot will look like. It’s called Live HDR+, and it is accomplished through the use of machine learning to “approximate HDR+” in the viewfinder. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

All in all, the new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are shaping up to be very, very interesting flagship smartphones. They have fast, vibrant 90Hz OLED displays, a sophisticated Face Unlock system, a faster and more seamless Google Assistant – thanks to the new Pixel Neural Core coprocessor – as well as a unique Motion Sense radar system.

There are, of course, a number of things that could have been improved on the Pixel 4. One of the biggest complaints against the new phone is the sheer size of the top bezel, which looks at odds with the much smaller bottom bezel. Granted, the top of the phone has to house the Motion Sense radar chip, but there has to be a more…elegant solution.

On top of that, battery life may be an issue with these two phones, especially the smaller Pixel 4 with its below average 2,800mAh battery.

Regardless, only a full review of the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL will reveal any possible weaknesses. Both phones are available for pre-order in the US right now, and they will ship on 24 October. The Pixel 4 starts from $799 (about RM3,350), while the Pixel 4 XL retails from $899 (approximately RM3,765). These are the prices for the 64GB models; you’ll have to add $100 (around RM420) to double the storage to 128GB.

Three colour options are available for the Pixel 4 in very Google-like names: Clearly White (pictured in this article), Just Black, and the limited edition Oh So Orange. If you’d like to learn more about the Pixel 4 XL, check out our early hands-on right here.