Google Pixel 4 review: A great camera isn’t enough to justify the high price

In the Pixel 4, Google has sent a great camera boosted with computer software wizardry. The company’s initial telephoto lens is top of its class (never consider our word for it: Listed here are 24 images taken with the Pixel 4). It can make portrait taking pictures a breeze and it is really no for a longer period unattainable to zoom in on distant objects and consider a respectable picture. I failed to get a chance to test out the camera’s new method for using images of stars since they were not visible in the location I was testing. 

But for all the camera’s brilliance, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL (these phones are almost similar other than in sizing and battery) are high-priced specified the quantity of storage provided: The Pixel 4 starts at $800, (£669, AU$1,049) although the Pixel 4 XL costs $900 (£829, AU$1,279). They only appear with 64GB at people costs, with no choice to increase. If you want 128GB, you’ll want to tack on $a hundred far more.

Real, other high quality phones land in the same price tag variety. But the Iphone 11 ($699 at Apple), which also has dual rear cameras and doesn’t have expandable storage, starts at $699 (£729, AU$1,199) for 64GB — $a hundred fewer than the Pixel 4 — and the 128GB model is $a hundred and fifty less expensive than the 128GB Pixel 4. The Galaxy S10 costs $900 (£799, AU$1,349) but it has expandable storage, and the $950 Be aware 10 (£899, AU$1,499), which doesn’t have expandable memory, at minimum has 256GB on board.

When it arrives to cost-effective Android selections, we live in a environment of a good deal. There are about, oh, a million Galaxy S10 selections you can decide on from that have similar cameras. The Galaxy S10E, nevertheless not as high quality as the Pixel 4, costs $750, has expandable storage and has two cameras. And then there’s the darkish-horse OnePlus 7T ($599 at OnePlus).

To compensate for its limited storage, Google is banking on Pixel owners utilizing Google Shots for storing images and videos. But if you are like me and you like onboard storage, syncing all your stuff with the cloud just isn’t attractive. Google also improved its coverage so that Pixel 4 buyers never have limitless picture storage at unique good quality. In its place, you can add articles at significant good quality, which is a reduced resolution with fewer detail.

If you are pleased to use Google Shots and have the funds, take into consideration the Pixel 4. It does have some nifty captioning computer software with its Android 10 update, and you’ll have one particular of the very best cameras all-around. But if you want to get the most for your income, take into consideration the Galaxy S10, the Be aware 10, the OnePlus 7T or even the discounted Pixel three from last yr. All of these phones have for a longer period battery daily life than the Pixel 4 too, and the Pixel three costs only $499, has a wonderful camera and can update to Android 10. 

Consider a further dive into Pixel 4 comparisons: Here’s how the Pixel 4 differs from last year’s Pixel threehow it stacks up against the Galaxy Be aware 10 and all the Pixel 4 specs compared to the Iphone 11, Galaxy S10E and OnePlus 7T.

Update, Nov. 1, 2019: Adds battery exam effects and remaining scoring.

Pixel 4 receives two rear cameras, astrophotography

The Pixel 3’s most persuasive feature was its fantastic camera, and we were impressed by how properly it captured gorgeous images utilizing just a single rear camera at a time when its competition necessary two or far more. On the Pixel 4, even so, Google additional a second telephoto camera (nevertheless that is however fewer than other phones that wield three or even four rear cameras). Google says it went with a telephoto camera in its place of a broad-angle since it felt it was far more vital to zoom. The Iphone 11 Pro, Huawei Mate 30 and Be aware 10 phones have broad-angle cameras nevertheless, which can healthy far more articles in every single body.

The second telephoto lens lets the camera to consider far better portrait shots. It also does a far better task at smoothing out tricky areas like hair and fur than before. (A complicated picture of me, shot on a specially windy day, did have patchy areas nevertheless.) You can also consider portrait images from farther away now.

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Google additional a telephoto camera to the Pixel 4.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The camera’s HDR Furthermore feature, which compiles several photographs to give you a single image with the very best exposure, can be viewed in authentic time. This is useful, but I never like how you can’t flip off HDR in normal. I’m not always a lover of the result, on any mobile phone genuinely, since it can make images appear unrealistic or overly processed. Although I can tweak photographs with the two new sliders for shadows and highlights, it is really not intuitive how to use these sliders for the result I want. I often just randomly played all-around with the sliders with no authentic plan what the picture would appear like.

Pixel’s low-light method, Evening Sight, is however outstanding, brightening up and sharpening darkish scenes. It truly is so excellent that you can use the Pixel 4 to consider images of a starlit sky — a method that normally needs a DSLR, a tripod and a great deal of tolerance. I couldn’t exam the astrophotography method since I was in New York and couldn’t get to an location darkish ample to consider star shots, but I did involve a pic underneath taken by my colleague, Juan Garzon. The picture is quite outstanding in that a mobile phone can seize starlight at all. Stars aside, the Pixel 4’s low-light method however impresses me every single time I press the shutter.

The Pixel 4 can take sharp and vivid images with great distinction. The camera’s mixture of telephoto and digital zoom is effective great and I was capable to consider steady shots of objects that were significantly away. While zoomed photographs however confirmed digital artifacts, it was outstanding how obvious the photographs arrived out. The camera’s handling of white stability is also spot-on: Shots I took underneath yellow, heat lighting would appear out as if they were taken in white light. So significantly, the Pixel 4 has one particular of my most loved cameras to use on any mobile phone.

Shots taken on the front-facing camera were not as crisp and sharp as from the rear shooter and in dim lighting faces were muddled all-around the edges. But with enough lighting, images were sharp and shades were true to daily life. 

A person compact quibble — Google hid essential picture options, such as the flash and timer, so you now have to tap on an extra arrow on the camera’s interface to get in touch with these resources up. While it declutters the interface, I discover it troublesome to tap all-around for some thing as essential as the flash.

The Pixel 4 effortlessly handled this sunny day in Inwood Hill Park.


Lynn La/CNET

While there are some patchy areas all-around Jessica’s hair, portrait method however did a excellent task handling the blur result.


Lynn La/CNET

Taking a picture of stars with the Pixel 4’s new astrophotography feature.


Juan Garzon/CNET

Zooming in on a crane with the phone’s 8x digital zoom.


Lynn La/CNET

The preceding picture, zoomed out.


Lynn La/CNET

Pixel 4’s radar-assisted experience unlock and Android 10

Equipped with a sensor chip Google dubbed Soli, the Pixel 4 lets you to do a few new factors like use your experience to authorize digital payments and navigate your mobile phone with touchless gestures. This suite of options is identified as Motion Sense, and you can toggle it on in Settings.

Motion Sense makes use of radar for movement tracking, and it can perception your hand when you access for your mobile phone to unlock it (the experience unlocking itself is carried out by an infrared camera, just like Confront ID on the Iphone). This combo of readying and then firing up the tech can make experience unlock more rapidly. I never have to tap to wake the monitor or press any buttons beforehand, nor do I have to swipe afterward to use my mobile phone. It truly is all just one particular fluent, cohesive method.

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Google’s experience unlock makes use of a mixture of radar and infrared sensors.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Be aware that although experience unlock is secure ample to authorize digital payments, it is really not a hundred% infallible. Google acknowledges that someone who appears to be like you, such as a twin, can unlock your mobile phone. Confront unlock also is effective with your eyes closed or when you are sleeping, which is a significant vulnerability. (I can presently envision my buddies currently being capable to idiot all-around with my mobile phone if I’m caught napping all-around them, and there are considerably far more serious possible scenarios.) Confront ID for the Iphone only is effective if your eyes are open, and at one particular level it looked like Google would offer the same selection to buyers, in accordance to the BBC. But it appears to be the corporation eradicated the choice, and no one particular understands why. (Google did not reply to a ask for for remark but promised to deal with the difficulty with a patch. The Eyes Open up feature turned available in April 2020.)