Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL: Everything we know

    Google has submitted a total of four Pixel phones for FCC approval

    As we inch closer to October, leaks and even official news about Google’s next phone — the Pixel 4 — continue to surface. The Google Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3a have established Google’s prowess with smartphone photography, so how will the Pixel 4 take it all a step further?

    Well, we know what the back of the Pixel 4 will look like because Google posted a photo of it on Twitter. Here’s everything else we know about it so far.

    Specs

    While Google has offered a few looks at the design of the upcoming Pixel 4, we still haven’t heard much about the phones’ specs. Until now, that is. A recent report from 9to5Google suggests there may be more Google Pixel variants than previously thought — a total of four Pixel models were submitted for FCC approval, and some of them have a requested the high-frequency band that’s used in Project Soli. Interestingly, the phones listed have model numbers more in line with the Pixel 3a budget phones that were launched earlier this year than what would be expected of the Pixel 4. But considering the timing, it’s hard to believe that they would be for anything other than the Pixel 4. The model numbers include G020I, G020J, G020MN, and G020PQ.

    According to a report from 9to5Google, both phones will include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, which is Qualcomm’s latest and greatest processor model. They’ll also get 6GB of RAM, which is a welcome step up from last year’s 4GB given how badly the Pixel 3 handled memory when it launched. Last but not least, the phones will be available in 64GB and 128GB variants.

    Display

    We’re expecting to see the Pixel 4 and the Pixel 4 XL this year, and that means we’ll be getting two different sizes of the phone. While the underlying tech has often remained the same, the two Pixel phones have seen slightly different screen designs, with the Pixel 3 XL embracing a notch, while the Pixel 3 remained notchless. Will Google bring the two Pixel 4 handsets together this year, or will they be radically different once again?

    The latest rumors suggest Google will be moving ahead of the trends and including a 90Hz display on the Pixel 4. The rumor comes from 9to5Google, and suggests that the Pixel 4 will offer a display that runs at 90 frames per second instead of 60, which should make for a much smoother and more responsive experience. So far, 90Hz displays have typically only been included on gaming phones like the OnePlus 7 Pro. The 9to5Google report also notes that the Pixel 4 will offer a 5.7-inch display, while the Pixel 4 XL will include a 6.3-inch display. The smaller phone’s display will reportedly be a Full HD+ display, while the Pixel 4 XL’s display will be Quad HD+.

    The report corroborates previous leaks we’ve seen. Well-known leaker OnLeaks has previously shown us what we could expect in terms of screen sizes and body size.

    If accurate, this would mean the Pixel 4 has a larger display than the Pixel 3, but a body that’s only slightly larger. That would mean Google has shrunk the Pixel 4’s bezels — though it’s unlikely to be on the level of a phone like the Galaxy S10. On the other hand, the Pixel 4 XL’s display looks to be more or less the same size as the Pixel 3 XL’s, but with a slightly taller, if thinner body. Could this signal an end to the Pixel 3 XL’s rather ugly notch? We’ll have to wait to find out.

    Camera

    The 9to5Google report also gave us a pretty good look at the Pixel 4’s camera. According to the report, there will be two camera sensors on the back of the phone, with one being a 12-megapixel sensor with autofocus and phase-detection autofocus. The other camera will be a 16-megapixel telephoto lens. Google may also be developing a DSLR attachment for the Pixel that will be available as an accessory.

    A promo video that leaked on September 9 also showed off the Pixel 4’s astrophotography features, which enable it to take better photos of stars at night.

    Project Soli

    google pixel 4 gesture controls teaser sensor array
    Google

    Google has confirmed that the Pixel 4 will be the first phone to use Project Soli, the company’s new gesture-recognition technology. The tech works by using radar to detect gestures, and can be used to control music playback, snooze alarms, silence calls, and more.

    The Project Soli tech could also be why Google is giving the Pixel 4 a larger forehead. In a blog post, the company showed off the array of sensors that will be found in the Pixel 4, including infrared sensors, dot projectors, the Soli radar chip, and more. The trade-off, of course, is that the Pixel 4 may have a slightly dated design.

    The Pixel 4 will also include facial-recognition technology, which will allow users to unlock their phone with their face. According to Google, however, the facial-recognition tech in the Pixel 4 will be a little more convenient than other phones. For example, the Project Soli chip will be able to detect that you’re reaching for your phone and activate the facial-recognition sensors, which could help cut out seconds off the facial-recognition process.

    Design

    Google Pixel 4
    Google

    What will the Pixel 4 look like? We already have an official look, thanks to Google’s keenness to show it off. But Google only showed off the backside of the Pixel 4, and we’re mostly in the dark about what to expect around the front. But not anymore — images of Pixel 4 screen protectors have emerged, and they seem to show an additional oval cutout opposite to the expected spaces for the front-facing camera lenses. We now know this space will contain face-sensing tech powered by Google’s Project Soli chip.

    Not all leaks are created equal, and you always need to keep an eye out for “leaks” that don’t seem entirely legitimate. This applies to a series of renders from IndiaShopps, an Indian phone retailer. In a series of renders posted on its news section, IndiaShopps claims to show off an exclusive look at the range of Pixel 4 color variants — including a hitherto unseen mint green option.

    Except, all may not be what it seems. While most of the details are close to Google’s own render, a telling detail jumps out in the image of the lone white Pixel 4 — the camera lenses are in the wrong position. The positioning of the camera lenses has been more or less confirmed by Google’s reveal, so it would be odd for a render to show these in the wrong position. That mistake is enough for us to doubt the veracity of these particular renders. While this doesn’t rule out the idea a mint green variant could be coming — after all, one mistake in a render doesn’t mean the information is incorrect — it does mean we’re not ready to bet the farm on this rumor just yet.

    Of course, we don’t just have to rely on renders, as the Pixel 4 has been spotted out in the real world. It seems likely the phone in the photo, where it’s clutched by an unidentified man, is the Pixel 4 as it shares the same camera module design as Google’s image. Unless it’s actually an iPhone, of course.

    It’s wrapped in a fabric-style case, the type which Google has released for previous Pixel phones. The phone was apparently in use on a train somewhere in London, and the photographer managed to catch a glimpse of the phone’s front, and stated it has a large bezel at the top with two camera lenses, just like the Pixel 3.

    Before this, Google surprised everyone by tweeting an image of the upcoming Google Pixel 4, showing off a square camera bump on the back. The company confirmed to Digital Trends that the image is “the real deal” — so what you are looking will eventually be the Google Pixel 4. In the camera bump, it looks as though there are two cameras, marking a change for the Pixel series, which has traditionally stuck with a single lens. Not only that, but the image appears to show that the company is getting rid of the two-tone look for the Pixel 4.

    There may be another sensor above the two cameras, and this could be a time-of-flight camera to measure depth. We can’t be sure just yet.

    Before Google officially showed off the design of the upcoming device, we had an idea that it might have a square camera bump. A pair of design test pieces, the kind used by accessory manufacturers to create cases, that were claimed to be the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL were shown in a YouTube video.

    The pair clearly show the square camera lens cutout in the top left of the back panel, a controversial design trait also associated with the next iPhone. Otherwise, the mockups show the volume and power buttons on the side of the device, and a body with rounded corners. The screens are not visible, but a cutout for a speaker suggests it will have a notch or large bezel.

    The dark renders below also show the same square camera bump design on the back, but the screen is not shown in detail. However, it’s claimed the notch will remain. The Pixel 4 range will still lack a headphone jack, apparently, and also a visually obvious fingerprint sensor. This most likely means Google is either aiming to implement an under-display fingerprint scanner, or more powerful facial-recognition on the level of Apple’s Face ID.

    eSIM support

    A previous rumor about the Pixel 4 is that it could have much better dual SIM support, according to a Google engineer who posted comments on code for the Android Open Source Project. In those comments, the engineer noted that the device may have better support for dual SIMs, which will likely mean that the device will support being able to connect to two cellular networks at once.

    It’s not surprising to see Google add dual SIM support for the Pixel 4, but how it ends up working could be very different from previous Pixel phones. Both the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 3 have both an eSIM and a physical SIM tray, but they can’t be used at the same time.

    On the Google Pixel 4, Google could include two SIM card slots, or space for two SIM cards on the one tray — though that will still require a few software tweaks. More likely is that Google would include an eSIM, or an electronic SIM that can be connected to different networks through software, on top of the physical SIM tray.

    Because the Pixel 2 and 3 already have both an eSIM and physical SIM, it’s possible the feature could roll out as part of a software update that would bring the functionality to the older phones. Google appears to be testing ways for stock Android to handle dual SIM cards. There are two ways the company could go about it. One of those ways is called “Dual SIM Dual Active,” in which both SIM cards can be used at any time. The other is called “Dual SIM Dual Standby,” where the second SIM isn’t always active, but can receive calls and texts.

    Dual-SIM functionality is relatively important to a lot of people, especially those who travel a lot. With a dual SIM, users can keep their regular SIM installed in their device, while also connecting to a second local network to use while they’re in a different country.

    We’ll update this article as we hear more about the upcoming Google Pixel 4.

    Updated on September 9, 2019: Added information from leaked promotional video.

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