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The Pixel 4 XL literally cracks under pressure

The Pixel 4 XL literally cracks under pressure

GOOGLE HAS LAUNCHED the Pixel 4 and 4 XL, much to the surprise of no-one.  The flagship Android 10 duo, which fell victim to an onslaught of leaks ahead of Google’s unveiling, are exactly what we were expecting; both the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL sport upgraded dual-camera setups, Snapdragon 855 SoCs, OnePlus-rivalling 90Hz displays and garish ‘Oh So

GOOGLE HAS LAUNCHED the Pixel 4 and 4 XL, much to the surprise of no-one. 

The flagship Android 10 duo, which fell victim to an onslaught of leaks ahead of Google’s unveiling, are exactly what we were expecting; both the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL sport upgraded dual-camera setups, Snapdragon 855 SoCs, OnePlus-rivalling 90Hz displays and garish ‘Oh So Orange’ colour options. 

We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about the smartphone duo below. You can also check out our full Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL review.

Release date 
The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL went up for pre-order on 15 October and started shipping in Blighty on 24 October.

The Pixel 4 is available to order at the Google Store, with the 64GB model priced at £669 and the 128GB version at £769. The larger Pixel 4 XL is available in the same configurations priced at £829 and £929

Over at EE, the Pixel 4 is available with 30GB data for £54 per month with a £10 upfront cost, while the Pixel 4 XL will set you back £40 upfront on a £64 tariff that bags you the same amount of data. 

Three is also be offering the Pixel 4 and 4 XL in the UK. The network is selling the Android 10 handsets with unlimited data for £49 on a £49 tariff and £79 on a £55 contract, respectively.

Vodafone has started flogging the new Pixels ahead of their 24 October release. It’s offering the Pixel 4 from £9 upfront on a £52 tariff, and the Pixel 4 XL from £29 on a £60 contract.

Latest news
The Google Pixel 4 XL has become the latest victim of JerryRigEverything‘s durability test (below) Though its Gorilla Glass front protected it from scratches, the flagship didn’t fare so well in the bend test; the Pixel 4 XL cracked immediately after pressure was applied to it, making it one of the least durable devices to have been tested. The handset’s antenna lines appear to be the culprit, as cracks first formed as the iPhone-alike markings on each side of the device.  

Zack of JerryRigEverything remarked: “Google has the budget and power to make a Pixel device for the ages but instead, we got a budget-looking iPhone that isn’t even structural. They aren’t putting a whole lot of effort into innovation or competition, and it shows.”

5/11/19: The first update for the Pixel 4 and 4 XL has arrived and it’ll bring much-needed “improvements” to Smooth Display’; until now, the handset’ much-hyped 90Hz display only kicked in when the brightness level is cranked up to above 75 per cent. Based on early reports, Smooth Display is considerably more likely to appear in more conditions. The update, which comes with the November security patch, also brings with it “camera quality improvements” and a fix for Xbox Bluetooth controller mapping

28/10/19: The Pixel 4 is just as difficult to pull apart as last year’s Pixel 3, according to iFixit, which slapped the phone with a repairability score of four out of 10. During its teardown, the gadget-fiddlers bemoaned the Pixel 4’s “stubbornly-glued” back panel and fragile glass construction but went on to applaud its standard T3 Torx fasteners and the stretch-release adhesive security the battery. It also uncovered some an interesting tidbit about the device; its 90Hz display is made by Samsung, despite the fact this technology has yet to make its way to the firm’s own smartphones.

23/10/19: The Pixel 4’s much-hyped 90Hz display only works when the brightness level is cranked up to full. The discovery comes via Reddit, where users have discovered that the Pixel 4 and 4 XL will drop the refresh rate to 60Hz is if the brightness level dips below 75 per cent. Though Google has yet to comment, but Droidlife has discovered that it can be overwritten in the developer settings.

22/10/19:  The Pixel 4 has fallen to eighth place in DxOMark’s camera rankings, behind the Mate 30 Pro, Galaxy S10 5G and OnePlus 7 Pro. Though its score of 112 Is an improvement on the Pixel 3 (103), DxOMark notes that its bokeh performance is sub-par compared to competitors and bemoans the handset’s lack of wide-angle camera and depth sensor. Still, the smartphone ranking outfit still applauds the Pixel 4’s dual-camera setup for its fast and accurate autofocus, vivid colours and wide dynamic range. 

21/10/19: Google has confirmed that it’ll be adding eye detection to Face Unlock ‘in the coming months’ after it was revealed that the Pixel 4 and 4 XL can be unlocked even if a users’ eyes are closed. In a statement, Google said it’s “been working on an option for users to require their eyes to be open to unlock the phone, which will be delivered in a software update in the coming months.

In the meantime, Google says, Pixel 4 users can activate a security feature that requires a pin, pattern or password for the next unlock.

18/10/19: The Pixel 4’s Face Unlock feature works even if a users’ eyes a closed, which means the handset could be unlocked while you’re snoozing or, er… dead. To make matters worse, Face Unlock is the only biometric system the Pixel 4 uses; the fingerprint sensor found on older Pixel models has been binned. 

In a statement, Google said: “Pixel 4 face unlock meets the security requirements as a strong biometric, and can be used for payments and app authentication, including banking apps. It is resilient against unlock attempts via other means, like with masks.”

15/10/19: Google has officially shown off the Pixel 4 and 4 XL following months worth of rumours and leaks.

The big talking point is, naturally, the cameras, with Google ditching the Pixel line’s long-standing single lens in favour of a dual-camera setup in an iPhone-style cluster. Both the Pixel 4 and 4 XL now sport 12MP main and 16MP telephoto lens, which come powered by the Pixel Neural Core, Google’s new dedicated image processing chip.

Thanks to the upgraded setup, Google claims the new Pixels boast improved Portrait and Night Sight modes; the latter now comes with a dedicated ‘astrophotography’ mode for improving the colouration of skies, though Google notes that you’ll have to hold your Pixel “completely still” in order for the feature to work.

Another new feature dubbed ‘Dual Exposure’ will enable the Pixel 4’s cameras to capture sunset photos with both faces and the background well lit and in focus.

As has been well-documented, the Pixel 4 and 4 XL also come with Motion Sense. Utilising a motion-sensing radar, the feature – which Google tells us has been in development for five years – detects tiny gestures around your phone, allowing you to carry out actions such as silencing phone calls and skipping songs by waving your hands in front of the device.

The radar tech will also detect when you’re near your Pixel in order to activate the always-on display and will be used for what Google is touting as the “fastest face unlock” of any device; there’s no fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 4 handsets.

AI is, naturally, another big focus of the Pixel 4 and 4 XL; Assistant is now faster and more responsive, and the handsets ship with an Otter-esque real-time audio recorder and transcriber, complete with AI-powered search functionality. 

Elsewhere, the Pixel 4 sports a new larger 5.5in OLED screen while the Pixel 4 XL sports the same 6.3in screen as its predecessor, and both offer a OnePlus-rivaling automatically adjustable 90Hz refresh rate. Both handsets have also seen an upgrade under the hood; you’ll find a Snapdragon 855 processor paired with 6GB RAM – the first RAM jump since the original Pixel was announced.

You’ll also find 2,800mAh and 3,700mAh batteries, respectively, a USB-C port that supports Fast Charging, 64GB and 128GB storage options. And, just as the rumours had suggested, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack, nor is there an adaptor included in the box. 

The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL will be made available in Just Black, Clearly White and “limited edition” Oh So Orange colour options. 

14/10/19: Best Buy Canada prematurely posted its product pages for the Pixel 4 and 4 XL, confirming everything there is about the Android 10 duo. The listings, spied by 9to5Google, reveal that the Pixel 4 and 4 XL will sport 5.7in FHD+ and 6.3in QHD screens, respectively, along with 2,800mAh and 3,700mAh batteries. Both handsets will sport a dual rear camera setup comprising 12MP and 16MP lenses, Snapdragon 855 CPUs paired with 64GB RAM and 64GB baked-in storage. 

10/10/19: Google is reportedly developing a 5G version of the Pixel 4, and it could debut as soon as next week. So says Nikkei, which reports that while the standard Pixel 4 and 4 XL will support LTE-only, Google has begun “test production” on a variant that also includes 5G support. While the device could be shown at Google’s Pixel launch event next week, Nikkei notes that it might be shown off in spring next year alongside the Pixel 4a.

The report also claims that Google might unveil a new smartwatch and laptop at Tuesday’s event. 

4/10/19: You’ll be unsurprised to hear that full specs for both the Pixel 4 and 4 XL have leaked online. The mega-leak, courtesy of 9to5Google, confirms that both Pixels will pack a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 CPU paired with 6GB RAM and 64GB or 128GB storage, and both will feature two cameras (12MP Dual Pixel and 16MP telephoto), Face Unlock, USB-C and the Titan M security module. The smaller Pixel 4 will sport a 5.7in FHD+ display and 2,800mAh battery, while the Pixel 4 XL packs a larger 6.3in QHD+ screen and a 3,700mAh battery.

There’s one tidbit of info that wasn’t picked up in previous leaks, though; both handsets will feature a ‘Pixel Neural Core, which is likely a new name for the Pixel Visual Core found in the Pixel 3 lineup. 

3/10/19:  If you were hoping Google might have some surprises in store for its 15 October Pixel 4 launch event, you were, er, probably wrong, as 9to5Google has obtained a set of “official marketing videos”. The first video shows off the handset’s long-teased Soli-powered Motion Sense gestures in action; to silence calls you simply wave your hand above the phone, a gesture the also works for skipping songs and snoozing alarms. The second video shows Google Assistant on the Pixel 4 and appears to confirm it will be faster and capable of processing multiple requests one after another. 

1/10/19: It’s official: the Google Pixel 4 is the most leaked smartphone ever. With just two weeks to go until its official launch, Evan Blass has shared an official-looking render of the Android 10 flagship (above), confirming the handset’s chunky bezels and iPhone 11-like rear camera array. Curiously, there’s no fingerprint scanner on the back of the handset, which means the Pixel 4 will either adopt an under-display sensor or rely solely on jack unlock. 

13/9/19: A new leak has detailed Google’s upcoming take on Face ID. We already knew it was coming, and now Vietnamese blogger Genk has revealed how the feature – which uses Google’s prematurely-detailed Soli chip – works. Unsurprisingly, the Pixel 4 features works similarly to Face ID – on setup, an animation appears showing you how to move your head, and the screen allows you to select an option to set up face unlock if you have “limited vision or head motion.” 

Though face unlock isn’t fully functional on the pre-release model, the setup process shares some details about how it will work – images are securely stored and never leave your phone, for example, and looking at the phone can unlock it when you don’t intend to. 

12/9/19: Though Google is trying its best to preempt Pixel 4 leaks, it’s failed to stop a bunch of Pixel 4 XL hands-on videos appearing online, the most notable of which comes via have Thailand-based Rabbit TV

The in-depth, 14-minute clip shows off three colour variants – white/black, black and a new coral/orange hue, and all-but-confirms that Google’s long-recycled two-tone design has been gone. The video also includes early camera samples from the Pixel 4 XL, which show that – as expected – the handsets’ Night Mode has been improved. 

10/9/19: A leaked Google Pixel 4 promo video has spilled the beans on the handset’s gesture controls, astrophotography mode and Night Sight camera improvements. The video, obtained by Spanish site ProAndroid and shared by 9to5Google, shows off Google’s Soli Motion Sense feature in action, with a user controlling the handset by waving their hand in front of the display. It also confirms, as expected, that Google’s Night Sight mode will see an upgrade, with a new mode designed for capturing with the Milky Way in the background. 

9/9/19: A duo of fresh Pixel 4 leaks, via 9to5Google and XDA Developers, claim the Pixel 4’s camera will boast an 8x zoom, an improved Night Sight feature, and an all-new “Motion Mode” for shooting action shots. The latter, 9to5Google reports, will allow the dual-cam setup to shoot fast-paced shots with “moving subjects in the foreground and blurry backgrounds,” similar to what you’d get using a high-end DSLR camera. 

In a separate report, 9to5Google claims that Google Assistant on Pixel 4 will be able to handle calls for you while you’re on hold. Simply tell the digital helper than you’re on hold, and it’ll notify you when there’s an actual human back on the other end of the call.


1/8/19: Google has prematurely confirmed that the Pixel 4 will include hands-free radar-based gesture controls and Face ID-style face unlock.

In a blog post and accompanying YouTube video (below), Google has detailed Soli, a new motion-sensing radar that its Advanced Technology and Projects has been developing for the past five years. Set to debut on the Pixel 4, the tech will allow you to skip songs, snooze alarms, and silence phone calls just by waving your hand.

In addition to Soli, which will be made available in “select markets”, Google has confirmed that the Pixel 4 will feature face unlock using a dot projector and infrared sensors similar to Apple’s Face ID. This combined with Soli will enable the handset to “proactively turn on the face unlock sensors” as you reach for the Pixel, and will allow the feature to work in “almost any orientation — even if you’re holding it upside down.” 

“Other phones require you to lift the device all the way up, pose in a certain way, wait for it to unlock, and then swipe to get to the homescreen,” Google boasts. “Pixel 4 does all of that in a much more streamlined way.”

The company notes that the feature will also work for payments, and promises that “image data never leaves your phone.”

24/7/19: New renders of the Google Pixel 4 suggest the handset’s square-shaped camera bump won’t be its only controversial design element.

3D renders from iGeeksBlog courtesy of @Onleaks show that while the Pixel 4 and 4 XL will rid of the chunky notch found on last year’s models, both will sport equally-chunky foreheads in addition to a visible chin. 

Tha hefty top bezel will reportedly serve a purpose, though, as the website notes that the handsets’ front camera will be paired with another lens, likely a ToF sensor or some other sensor needed for 3D face recognition. This will enable Face ID-esque face unlocking, which will be necessary due to the reported lack of both rear-facing and under-screen fingerprint scanners.

iGeeksBlog also notes that the black space at the right side of the forehead might be for Soli Radar components to enable touchless gestures.

Elsewhere, the site notes, the Pixel 4 and 4 XL will feature a top-mounted noise-cancelling speaker – likely in the absence of bottom-firing stereo speakers, no 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB-C charging port. 

17/7/19: The Pixel 4 XL has been spotted in public once again, this time on the London Underground.

The as-yet-unreleased handset was by an eagle-eyed 9to5Google reader, recognised by its distinctive rear camera setup. While the fuzzy image doesn’t tell us much we don’t already know, the website notes that it gives us a look at the main camera and its accompanying 16MP telephoto lens.

Pixel 4 leaks have started coming in thick and fast ahead of its likely October launch. A recent beta build of Android Q, version 6.3, all-but-confirmed that the flagship will adopt iPhone X-style face ID unlocking and improvements to its Night Sight mode. 

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Susan E. Lopez

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