Now that Google’s Pixel 4 has been in the market for the last 3 weeks and largely it hasn’t set the market on fire, let’s take a look at some of the missteps that Google could’ve avoided. Let’s look at what could’ve been the perfect Android smartphone. Let’s look at a potentially perfect Pixel 4.
What does the Pixel have?
While there is a lot of criticism in place towards Google for Pixel 4, there is no denying the fact that it is a true flagship smartphone. Google has loaded the Pixel 4 with cutting edge technology to the hilt.
- 5.7-inch and 6.4-inch 90Hz AMOLED display: Google’s new phone has a great screen. Display Mate has rated it as A+ which is the highest rating ever given to a smartphone screen. It also has a 90Hz refresh rate which isn’t even there in the iPhone 11 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 was for all intents the defacto standard chipset in most Android smartphones in 2019. This time around Google even increased the RAM to 6GB. There is also the new Pixel Neural processor which does a lot of on-device stuff.
- Dual camera system: For the first time, a Pixel smartphone has two cameras on the back. In addition to the 12-megapixel rear wide-angle camera, there is now a 16-megapixel telephoto camera. On the front, there is a selfie camera which a wide field of view.
- 2,800mAh and 3,700mAh battery: Google’s choice to pack this phone with 2,800mAh battery for the smaller Pixel 4 and a 3,700mAh battery for the larger model could be classified as the biggest misstep of the device.
- Project Soli plus Face unlock: Google’s Project Soli incorporates an radar and a sophisticated front camera array coupled with a dot projector and an IR scanner for a super-fast and secure biometrics system and gesture controls.
- Just 128GB storage: The Pixel 4 starts with 64GB storage and is capped off at 128GB storage. It also stopped offering free full-resolution uploads to Google Photos. This feature for long has been a staple of Pixel smartphones.
Now on paper when you read all of this, you’ll be led to assume that the Pixel is one of the most advanced Android smartphones of all time. Hell, given it’s more than decent looks this time around which involves a coloured band and matte finish on the back – it is also the best looking Pixel if not one of the classiest looking smartphones this year.
But obviously, Google had made many missteps which has led to a scenario where every second day the Pixel gets panned by one reviewer or the other, while unlike previous models, it is also not showing up in key markets like India.
So what should have the Pixel 4 had?
- A proper high refresh rate screen was the order of the business. While the Pixel 4 had a 90Hz refresh rate, it turned out it was operating at 60Hz 75% of the time. Google has now patched this problem to a certain extent with a software update, but this shouldn’t have happened at any time.
- One of the reasons why Google gated the 90Hz panel to 60Hz so aggressively was the small batteries on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL. Many reviewers have pointed out that the battery life on the smaller Pixel 4 is awful while it is just average on the Pixel 4XL. This also happened in the year Apple has amped the battery life on the iPhone 11 models. Pixel 4 should’ve started with a 4,000mAh battery minimum even if that meant the phone was thicker.
- While the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor is good, the Pixel 4 should’ve had the Snapdragon 855+ which was had just launched. It had found a home in phones like the OnePlus 7T and the Asus ROG Phone 2; the Pixel 4 looked outdated in front of them while being more expensive. It should’ve minimum even had 8GB RAM which would’ve made it look competitive compared to newer Android smartphones.
- Google’s single-camera philosophy was endearing but it left the Pixel exposed up against multi-camera setups. This year it goes dual camera, but that’s too little in the year the iPhone dials up to a triple camera system. It also falls flat on its face as it opted for a telephoto camera instead of a wide-angle camera which has been deemed the popular choice by consumers. Google could’ve also kept the dual front-camera system which was there in the Pixel 3.
- Project Soli is turning out to be a gimmick. More so, the radar-based face unlock is the main reason the phone isn’t launching in markets like India. At the same time, it has been revealed to be not as secure as the face unlock on the iPhone as it doesn’t detect a user’s eyes. They should’ve at least added an in-display fingerprint scanner.
- This phone should’ve included is a higher memory SKU — which could start at 64GB but definitely it shouldn’t have been capped off at 128GB. It should’ve gone to at least 256GB. Google should’ve also retained full-resolution uploads to Google Photos and the packaging should’ve included earbuds.
It just seems like Google went back on a bunch of things that it did correctly on the Pixel 3 which trying a lot of new things on the Pixel 4. It should’ve retained everything that was there on the Pixel 3 and built on top of that.