Google’s jumped the gun and shown us the Pixel 4
The Google Pixel 4 is no longer a secret. We know the Pixel 4’s design, cameras, and some features – because Google itself has shown us.
That’s not because the Google Pixel 4 release date is close by – we still fully expect the Pixel 4 to launch in October – but seemingly because the search giant doesn’t want months of inane speculation around the look and features in its next flagship phone.
It does, however, take away some of the excitement building up to the launch and annihilates the ‘will it, won’t it’ debate regarding the squared-off camera bump on the rear, which is bound to be a divisive design – but one which might end up being popularized by the iPhone 11 a month before the Pixel 4’s announcement.
- These are the best camera phones you can buy
- This is what we thought of the Pixel 3
- This is what we thought of the Pixel 3 XL
Since its launch in 2016, the Pixel line has become a reliable tent-pole in the smartphone release calendar. Offering a suite of features with an almost unmatched level of software polish, the handsets have done a lot to earn the adoration of the tech community at large.
That’s not to say the competition is resting however, and Google in 2019 really needs to keep on its feet if the Pixel line is to meet expectations with its next iteration. Could it reach the top of our list of the best Android phones, or best camera phones as the Pixel 3 did before it? Only time will tell.
Read on for the most up-to-date list of rumors regarding its design and pricing, and a full breakdown of what we’d like to see feature-wise from Google’s upcoming pocket rocket.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next photo and AI powerhouse from Google
- When is it out? Likely October 2019
- What will it cost? Possibly close to $1,000/£1,000
Google Pixel 4 price and release date
For years now, Google has opted to release its Pixel lineup in the latter half of the year, after the usual roller coaster of smartphone releases from the first half of the year has died down.
More specifically, we expect a Google Pixel 4 launch date sometime in early October based on past form, with it likely that Google will take the opportunity to launch a few other hardware options at the same time, such as the long-rumored Pixel Watch.
Following the announcement, it’s likely that the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL release date will be in early November, if past years are anything to go by.
In terms of the Google Pixel 4 price, the cost of Pixel handsets have been climbing for years now.
With the extra features now included and the general emphasis on a premium fit and finish, the Pixel 4 – or at least the XL model – could be the first of the line to break the $1,000/£1,000/AU$1,500 mark.
We’ll probably also see multiple different storage capacities offered at different prices. More information will arrive closer to the launch, so watch this space.
Google Pixel 4 leaks and rumors
We’ve heard a few leaks and rumors about the upcoming Pixel 4 smartphone, so we’ve collected them below so you can find out what we know.
Google Pixel 4 design
We know what the Google Pixel 4 will look like (on the back at least), thanks to Google itself posting a tweet with a picture of its upcoming handset.
It confirms that the Google Pixel 4 design will feature a large, square camera bump on the rear – which we’d seen in multiple rumors before Google posted its tweet.
On closer inspection, it appears the bump houses two cameras – which would be a first for the Pixel line of phones, which have stuck to just a single rear snapper to date – along with a camera flash below them (with a sensor to its right) and another sensor at the top of the square.
Another key point we can glean from the official Google Pixel 4 image is the lack of a fingerprint scanner. Every Pixel handset to date has had a rear fingerprint scanner, which points towards the Google Pixel 4 coming with an in-display scanner instead or potentially no scanner.
This theory co-insides nicely with leaked renders claiming to be of the Pixel 4, showing a square camera block which supposedly houses either two or three lenses.
There also appears to be a notch or bezel on the front, bottom-firing speakers, and possibly an in-screen fingerprint scanner.
The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL may not have fingerprint scanners at all though, if Google opts to go all-in on face, retina or voice recognition instead, as has also been rumored.
While the front design isn’t totally clear, it’s also rumored that the Pixel 4 range might have a full bezel at the top, rather than a notch or punch-hole.
That’s a claim that someone who seemingly snapped a Pixel 4 in the wild also makes (though the front isn’t visible in the photo).
Whatever design the phone has, it might come in some new colors, as a mint green shade has leaked alongside the expected black and white models.
We’ve also seen leaked renders of the Pixel 4 XL, giving us a close look at the possible bezel.
Another Google Pixel 4 XL leak with case renders supports this top-bezel design and gives more angles to see the phone’s potential design. Sadly, if this render is true, there’s no return of the 3.5mm audio jack that we surprisingly saw in the Google Pixel 3a.
Google Pixel 4 camera
The aforementioned Pixel 4 XL images also show bottom-firing speakers, a dual-lens camera on the front, and a triple-lens camera on the back. We don’t know for sure what specs the camera will have yet, but rumors suggest it will include a 16MP telephoto lens and improved color capture.
Despite the images above, another leak, this time in the form of case renders, suggests the Pixel 4 might have a notch after all, one housing two cameras. The renders also show a big bezel below the screen housing a speaker, and the same square camera on the back as the leaks above.
There’s also alternatively a chance the Pixel 4 might arrive toting the punch-hole design used by the Honor View 20 and then brought into the mainstream by the Samsung Galaxy S10 line.
At least, that’s what an image for a screen protector seemingly designed for the phone shows, along with stereo speakers and virtually no bezel.
We’ve also similarly seen a leaked image below, supposedly showing the Google Pixel 4 XL with a dual-lens camera cut into the top right corner of the screen – although as we now know the rear design it suggests is incorrect, it pours cold water on the rest of the claims made here.
Indeed, it’s since been rumored that three Pixel 4 designs were in the works before Google settled on the one with the square camera block, so the images above may have once been in consideration.
As for the front-facing camera, well, it seems we’re down to one – at least in the base Pixel 4. In a seeming bid to get ahead of leaks, Google announced two new features, the hand gesture control Motion Sense and Face Unlock (detailed below). Both require a full suite of sensors located in the big top bezel, though that might have edged out the second selfie camera.
Google Pixel 4 display
Elsewhere, we’ve heard that the Pixel 4 could have a 5.6-5.8-inch screen, while the Pixel 4 XL could have a 6.2-6.4-inch one (compared to the 5.5-inch Pixel 3 and 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL).
That same source says the Pixel 4 will be roughly 147.0 x 68.9 x 8.2mm (or 9.3mm thick including the rear camera bump), and the Google Pixel 4 XL will be around 160.4 x 75.2 x 8.2mm (rising to 9.3mm at the camera bump).
Google Pixel 4 specs
We’ve seen a Geekbench benchmark possibly for the Google Pixel 4. It lists a top-end Snapdragon 855 chipset, along with 6GB of RAM – up from 4GB in the Pixel 3 range. It also, unsurprisingly, lists the phones as running Android Q.
The benchmark includes a single-core score of 3,296 and a multi-core one of 9,235, which are solid but unexceptional results for a top-end phone. Of course, this would be pre-release hardware and software, so results at launch might be better.
We’ve heard from multiple sources, in fact, that the Pixel 4 could launch with 6GB RAM. So far all the Pixel phones have had 4GB RAM, so this would be a long-overdue step up in terms of processing power.
In more unusual news we’ve heard that the Google Pixel 4 might have capacitive buttons rather than mechanical, clickable ones – however the image Google has shared appears to go against this, with raised buttons on the side of the handset suggesting mechanical ones.
It’s possible that this change would be made to allow Active Edge (the ability to launch Google Assistant by squeezing the frame, as found on previous Pixels) to work along the full length of the phone’s frame, and it could also help improve the design of the phone. Though notably image leaks still show physical buttons, so take this with a pinch of salt.
The same source added that the Pixel 4 will have front-facing speakers and a punch-hole camera.
Finally, code added to the open source foundation of Android suggests that the Google Pixel 4 might have improved dual-SIM support, letting you use both a normal SIM and an eSIM at the same time.
Throughout the year more leaks will continue to arrive, so keep checking back here for all of the latest developments.
Google Pixel 4 features
In an apparent bid to get ahead of leaks, Google itself revealed two big features coming to the Pixel 4: a type of hand gesture control called Motion Sense and the appropriately-named Face Unlock.
Motion Sense uses the Google Pixel 4’s whole new suite of sensors alongside its front-facing camera – specifically Soli, a motion-sensing radar concept – to track hand gestures for theoretically easy, no-touch controls. Ostensibly, these will be used to perform simple actions like skipping music tracks and swapping apps.
Face Unlock seems to do what it says – though achieved through multiple sensors, including a dot projector, IR camera, and flood illuminator. For the privacy-concerned, Google assured in its blog post that all processing would be done on the Pixel 4 and no images or recognition data would be shared through its services.
What we want to see
Not much is known yet about the Google Pixel 4, but we know what we’d like to see – our suggestions can be found below.
1. Multiple rear cameras
Since the beginnings of the Pixel line back in 2016, Google has not only defined what is possible with a single camera sensor, but for smartphone cameras overall.
With tricks such as super-res zoom, night shot and more, the Pixel 3 in particular outcmatched the likes of Huawei, Apple and Samsung in 2018, all seemingly without br
eaking a sweat. The competition isn’t resting on its laurels however, with the Huawei P30 Pro in particular turning up the heat.
We wouldn’t be surprised if a left-field, potentially game-changing software feature is added to the Pixel 4, but to really exceed expectations a second, third or even fourth sensor on the rear would give it an edge.
Ultra-wide-angle, telephoto zoom, monochrome, there are lots of options, so we would like Google to experiment with the options available to it – the results could be spectacular.
2. No notch
To anyone watching smartphone design evolve, 2018 was the year of the notch. No matter the size of the display, every manufacturer followed the trend set most strongly by the Apple iPhone X with a slew of copycat efforts.
Google’s Pixel 3 XL is a particularly infamous example of egregious notch design, as it’s larger than most.
We would like to see the firm completely avoid the notch this year, without resorting to the large bezels of the standard Pixel 3, either by using a pinhole camera in the display or with a sliding mechanism.
3. More RAM
Despite generally providing a solid software experience for those using it, the Google Pixel 3 line wasn’t without controversy, particularly with regards to RAM management.
Many users reported that in the first weeks of use, the camera app in particular used up so much available memory that any other apps then open would be force-closed.
In a budget phone with only a smattering of RAM available, this might have been forgivable, but for a flagship it certainly is not. For the Pixel 4 we would like to see at least 6GB of RAM, along with a suitably powerful chipset – hopefully this then will remove any accusations of poor performance.
4. Stereo speakers
The humble stereo speaker, usually front-facing, has faced an odd existence. Although popular with fans on any handset graced with their presence, they tend to be the first victim of space-saving measures.
Case in point, 2019 has seen the elimination of the feature from many popular handsets, with it sometimes being replaced by a speaker underneath the display.
But for the quality of audio offered, and the improved listening experience, we would like to see stereo speakers remain on the Pixel 4 as they did on the Pixel 3 – standing out from the competition in all the right ways.
5. Longer battery life
Packing in huge batteries has become the done thing for most flagships in 2019. Nearly all sport packs the size of which would have been unheard of only a few years ago.
Google though – claiming improved efficiencies with each passing year – has so far not massively improved the size of the battery packs included with its devices.
And although early signs are promising that the new Snapdragon 855 is significantly more efficient than its predecessor, the Snapdragon 845, we would like to see Google go the whole hog.
We want to see a Pixel which can measure its life in days, rather than hours. Here’s hoping that Google can deliver on this.
6. Stadia-sized ambitions
Earlier in 2019, Google ‘surprised’ the world with the announcement of its game-streaming platform ‘Stadia’, which utilizes compression technology in an attempt to make a service accessible to all.
It has been promised that the service will reach a plethora of devices, mobile, console or otherwise. The question of mobile is a little more complex however, for although expanding the service to all Android devices will likely be a future ambition, for the moment the word is that availability will be restricted solely to Pixel devices.
With this in-mind, we’d like to see Google take this concept as far as it can go – but what would this mean? In practice, what we want is improved focus on network performance (to combat potential latency issues) and, more importantly, a dedicated peripheral.
This would ideally be in line with what Xiaomi has helped to pioneer with its Black Shark gaming handsets – touch controls are not suited to complex control systems and a dedicated peripheral would help to bridge the gap.
7. More color options
In most settings, from the boardroom to the bedroom, black or white options are a solid choice for phones. They add a touch of class and don’t stand out in a crowd.
The Pixel line certainly caters to this subset of the population, however in the past it has taken slightly wild strides, mostly notably the original ‘Really Blue’ model (which was indeed very blue).
In the vein of this original, we’d like to see the Pixel 4 come in more than one slightly unconventional color, following the example set by the iPhone XR and the Samsung Galaxy S10e. Whether green, blue, yellow or whatever else, the new option needs to stand out from the similarly colorful opposition.
8. A sturdier construction
The Pixel 3, in no uncertain terms, is a better constructed phone than its predecessor. Boasting tight lines and a glass rear, it has really been a match to the likes of the various iPhone models released in 2018.
No amount of truth twisting could lead to accusations of it being damage-proof however – quite the opposite in reality. The stone-like finish applied to the glass on the rear has shown the tendency to scratch easily, far more so than might have been expected.
This meant that those shelling out hundreds for their shiny new Google devices found that it didn’t take long before they regretted not slapping a case on instantly.
As such, whether via an all-metal build or through something a little different (even a different kind of glass or treatment) we would like to see Google embrace a little utilitarianism into its design, creating something which anyone can use at any time, any day.
- Mobile gaming is going to change with Google Stadia