Google has properly revealed the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL and among their many other features, the cameras are absolutely extraordinary.
If there’s two things Google were looking to hit home at their event in New York City, it’s ‘ambience’ and ‘privacy’.
At the heart of all Google’s dazzling innovations, whether it be the Pixel Buds, Nests or their new phones – their mission is to ‘bring a more helpful Google to you’.
Following on from the previous Pixel phones, the new releases are completely redesigned with ‘features you won’t find on any other phone’.
With both the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL featuring a 90HZ smooth, OLED display, the visual interface is stunning – but wait till you get hold of the camera.
They said they were ‘raising the bar’ – and they weren’t kidding. On the back of the phone, you’ll find a little square. Google describe it as a ‘miniaturised camera rig’, featuring a hyper-spectral sensor and clear microphone for your Instagram stories and whatnot.
But the ‘special sauce’ that really makes the phone is computational photography. The Pixel 4’s camera is ‘software defined’, giving way to a set of impressive feats you can achieve with your humble smartphone.
With Live HDR+, you get richly textured photos instantly: ‘What you see is what you get.’ It comes fitted with a super-res zoom, allowing you to capture monuments from a distance without that pesky blur. If you’re tempted to take a photo from far away and simply crop the bit you like… don’t.
The Pixel 4’s camera is so clear from a distance you won’t need to worry about that, operating with a 2x telephoto lens.
It also has learning-based white balancing and a wider-range portrait mode (not too dissimilar to the iPhone 11’s latest wide-angle development, but for Google, ‘telephoto is more important’).
But here’s the holy grail – Night Sight. Some say it’s ‘fake, sorcery’ – but with the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, it’s just great technology. With dual exposure controls, and longer exposures from a single, fully automatic shutter press, you can draw ethereal detail from twilight landscapes.
Sabrina Ellis introduced the phone at the event, discussing an immensely exciting development: radar technology.
Radar was infamously impossible to put in a phone, due to its physical size – but Google changed all that. They shrunk it down to a tiny chip, making it the first smartphone to have radar capability.
It’s the sleek submarine of smartphones – radar is low power and precise. With Motion Sense, the phone lights up as your reach for the phone, before you touch it – as it easily sense s your movements.
For those Face ID fans, the Pixel 4 models have the fastest face unlock system. Simple gestures – whether it be turning off an alarm or changing a song – are set to bring ambient computing to your pockets, and throughout the home.
If you’re struggling to get to grips with the phone, you have a cute internal sidekick on-hand in the form of Pikachu (yes, really).
But don’t worry – from the presentation, the Motion Sense and Google Assistant actions are so diabolically seamless you’ll likely never need much help. With a cleaner interface, you can call on Google to make multi-tasking electrically smooth.
In terms of privacy, all data is processed on your phone and not shared with other devices. There’s also Titan M, helping to secure your most sensitive on-site data – including your face unlock model.
— Made by Google (@madebygoogle) June 12, 2019
As a journalist, one part of the show really impressed me – the brand new voice recorder. It comes with a terrifically accurate transcriber, picking up words and inflections without ease (and, you can search your voice logs for certain topics).
You don’t even need the internet to access the features either – at the launch event, Ellis revealed that the features were being shown off while in airplane mode. It comes fitted with Android 10, with owners getting prime access to the latest updates.
There’s also the new Pixel Buds, ‘floating computers’ that will rival Apple’s Airpods. Retailing at $179, they have a five-hour continuous listening battery life, as well as a unique hybrid design that gently seals the ear.
The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are available for pre-order now, set to be shipped out by October 28. They come in a new set of colours: Just Black, Clearly White and Oh So Orange.
There’s the small matter of the price. For the unlocked Pixel 4 models, a 64GB edition will set you back $799 (£669), while the 128GB edition will cost $899 ($769).
If they’re too puny for you, the larger XL model (with a 6.3-inch display) with 64GB costs $899 (£829), while the 128GB edition costs $999 (£929).
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.