Google’s latest smartphone boasts Motion Sense, an evolved camera and the best version of the Google Assistant, making it their “most helpful phone yet”.
Google supported Bradley Gavin, Marketing Executive at DWS, with a loan device, the Pixel 4 XL in Clearly White, for three weeks. Here’s what he thought…
Design – Great to look at, even better to hold
Straight out of the box, the Pixel 4 XL appears sleeker than its predecessors – making for a comfortable hold, even with it being larger than the standard Pixel 4. It weighs just 193 grams too, which is quite significantly less than the iPhone 11 Pro.
I really liked the Clearly White colour on the rear and the contrast with the black edges on the device really helped it stand out. The best bit, however, was the matte textured finished on the back of the phone. It’s one of the few smartphones I have used which doesn’t feel like it needs to go into a case. The “grippy” back makes it less likely to be dropped and was satisfying to hold too.
The signature power button, this time in orange, was a nice touch and has become synonymous with Pixel phones.
The front of the phone still maintains a large bezel, but that’s because it is holding a lot of functionalities. Notably the Motion Sense Radar – Soli, and the face authentication cameras. For some, this might have been an issue, but it didn’t bother me as the screen is both sufficiently large and vibrant. You forget that the bezel at the top is even there.
Performance – Slick and quick
Throughout my time with the Pixel 4 XL, I didn’t experience any lag, and the phone was incredibly responsive. This is, in part, due to the OS (Android 10), but mostly the 90Hz refresh rate of the screen, which makes simple functions, like switching between apps, seamless.
The screen itself is incredible. It’s rich and vibrant and the edges on applications are crisp. The display is probably my favourite thing about the device. It’s hard to find a smartphone that will stack up in terms of quality.
The battery on the device is 3,700mAh and while a lot of this is eaten up by the 90Hz refresh rate referenced above, it lasted me most of the day, every day. And with fast charge, I was able to bring it up to 50% battery within 30 minutes, so it wasn’t much of an issue.
Camera – Arguably the best feature
Let’s face it, as soon as we pick up a new phone, the first thing we test out is the camera.
The Pixel 4 XL camera does not disappoint, and it’s actually got three of them making it even better. Here are some of my favourite features:
I was able to capture incredible colour and detail in my photos. Colours popped off the screen while still retaining an authentic look.
Dual Exposure Controls
I was able to adjust the exposure balance before I took the photo, helping me in even the most challenging of circumstances. There was no need for any additional editing software which is great for a novice photographer like me.
Night Sight was actually introduced on the Pixel 3, but it’s now faster and easier to use. It allowed me to capture vivid details and colours, even in the darkest of places, and the added feature of astrophotography is also a nice touch.
Super Res Zoom
A second lens and Super Res Zoom make it easy to take high-quality photos from further away, without compromising on detail. Naturally, with any zoomed-in image, the end product can still be a bit blotchy, but nothing like you would expect, given the distance the photo is being taken from.
It’s worth noting that this list isn’t exhaustive, and, with coaching tips also built into the phone, I am convinced that, in time, you would be able to take even better photos on the Pixel 4 XL.
If you’d like to see some of the photos taken with this device, keep an eye out for our Smartphone Cameras review, coming soon.
Other features – Setting the Pixel 4 XL apart from the competition
Motion Sense uses a 1-metre miniature radar sensor to detect when someone is close to the phone.
It might be seen a gimmicky for the most part, but I found it convenient. It was useful to have the phone’s display turn on when I reached for it, which is less of a hassle than the facial unlock system.
Quick Gestures, which sit under Motion Sense as a feature, allowed me to snooze alarms, dismiss timers or skip a song with the wave of a hand – this was also useful, especially if you were pre-occupied and unable to pick up the phone.
It should come as no surprise that the Google Assistant on this phone is great. On the Pixel 4 devices, the new Google Assistant is faster than ever, featuring a new interface and deeper integration with popular apps. It helped me multitask and control the phone for good periods using just my voice. One aspect I really liked was how minimalist the interface was, offering an uninterrupted experience when in use.
Unlimited storage with Google Photos
The fact that I could store my photos in the Cloud, meaning I didn’t need to utilise the device memory, was a real bonus. Google Photos is a feature-rich solution, so storing photos and being able to easily search and share with others made for a really nice experience.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time with the Google Pixel 4 XL. Its camera, screen, overall design and subtle features really won me over, and have me wondering how this might be bettered in their next flagship release. The added benefit of having the Google ecosystem around me afforded a slick mobile device experience that I was reluctant to give up.