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Google Launches Pixel 4 (S$1,119): Face Unlock, 90Hz Display, Gesture Radar

After a slew of leaks, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL have finally gone public hours ago at the Made By Google event where the company showcased its new dual rear cameras, Motion Sense touch-free gesture controls, a secure Face Unlock and several other intelligent features.

Priced a notch down to the Pixel 3 devices from last year, the 5.7-inch Pixel 4 starts at SGD 1,119 (USD 799) for 64GB and SGD 1,269 for the 128GB variant. The 6.3-inch Pixel 4 XL starts at SGD 1,319 (USD 899) with the larger storage option at SGD 1,469. Both phones will hit shelves worldwide from October 24th and preorders are already open.

For reference, the Pixel 3 from last year started at SGD 1,249, with the Pixel 3 XL priced at SGD 1,399. That’s S$130 cheaper for the Pixel 4, and S$70 off for the Pixel 4 XL.

Another notice difference is the large, black, square camera bump on the rear. This marks a departure from the single-lens solution that has been Google’s trademark, as it houses dual cameras: a 16-megapixel telephoto lens paired with a main 12-megapixel sensor.

The Pixel 4 sports a 5.7-inch display and lower capacity battery, but has all the chops of the larger Pixel 4 XL. It will be compatible with the Pixel Stand that was released last year alongside the Pixel 3. Image: Ian Ling

Google is imparting its computational photography chops to this new addition – dubbed Super Res Zoom, users will be able to zoom up to 10x while retaining detail for stills. In addition to the main and telephoto lenses, the Pixel 4 will have a third “hyperspectral” sensor that wasn’t fully explained. Both phones will have only a single selfie camera.

Already class-leading, Pixel 4 extends Google’s lead in other areas, too. While the Pixel phones have always produced top-notch images, several pain points exist. One such way is the inclusion of Live HDR+ which allows users to preview images before they hit the shutter. Night Sight has also been improved in specific situations, such as in starry skies for astrophotography.

The new camera unit on the Pixel 4, with dual camera lenses visible (dots on left and right of square). To the bottom is the flash unit, and to the top is the new hyperspectral sensor. Image: Ian Ling

Users will also be able to make adjustments to brightness and shadows in live view. Portrait Mode has also been improved with the addition of the new telephoto lens – allowing for the collection of more depth data.

The colour variants of the Pixel 4 XL. The display is noticeably offset from the top with a sensor array taking up most of the forehead. Image: Ian Ling

First seen on LG’s G8 smartphone, Google Pixel 4 debuts radar technology with its proprietary Soli chip on board. Motion Sense allows users to navigate parts of the user interface without requiring physical contact with it. Presently, this feature is limited to track navigation in music apps, silencing alarms, and for picking up calls.

This Motion Sense technology also extends to security, allowing the phone to detect your presence while you are nearby, locking if you move away from the phone.

The forehead of the Pixel 4 XL. Image: Ian Ling

Another debut for Google is Face Unlock, which brings depth-sensing functionality à la Apple’s Face ID to Pixel for the first time. Notably, Pixel leverages the Soli radar technology to expedite face unlock, sensing users’ proximity and firing up the sensor array.

This new feature presents a compromise for the brand’s devices, however, with a large forehead bezel up top required to house the hardware. With phones like the Vivo Nex 3 and Samsung’s 2019 Galaxy devices bordering on bezel-less designs, the Pixel 4 once again bucks the trend.

The Clearly White and Oh So Orange models have a new matte finish, while the Just Black is glossy. Image: Ian Ling

The Face Unlock technology, with its radar chops, competes against the iPhone which has to be lifted upwards or touched on the display to kick Face ID into action. Like its Apple counterpart, unlocking and security data remain secure onboard the Pixel’s Titan M security chip.

Both the Full-HD+ OLED panel on the smaller Pixel 4 and the quad-HD+ display on both the Pixel 4 XL tout dynamic 90Hz refresh rates that provides smoother on-screen animations, while conserving battery when not required.

Google has improved the camera performance on the Pixel 4 devices, showcasing here the live camera exposure and contrast adjustments. Image: Ian Ling

Google Assistant has also been improved in terms of implementation on the Pixel 4 devices. The brand’s smart assistant will now be able to control more aspects of the device as well as integrations with third-party apps.

Google’s upcoming Stadia gaming streaming service will also make a debut on this year’s Pixel 4 devices, allowing for gaming on to go with an internet connection.

The rear of the Pixel 4 XL, Oh So Orange, in the hand. Image: Ian Ling

Battery-wise, the Pixel 4 has taken a slight hit with a 2,800 mAh capacity unit, against the 2,915 mAh one on last year’s Pixel 3. The Pixel 4 XL, however, packs a 3,700 mAh capacity battery, this time a small upgrade from the Pixel XL’s 3,420 mAh. 18W fast wired charging and 10W wireless charging keep users ready at all times.

The Pixel 4 devices pack a standard Snapdragon 855 chipset, and comes with 6GB of RAM – two more than last year’s Pixel 3, which would likely improve multitasking. It will also run Android 10 out of the box, and will be available in 64GB and 128GB storage variants.

The Pixel 4 devices will be available in Just Black, Clearly White, and Oh So Orange – each with its own accented power button. Image: Ian Ling

The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL will be available in Just Black, Clearly White, and this year’s special – Oh So Orange.

Ian Ling
Ian is the resident Tech Monkey and Head of Content at VR Zone. His training in Economics and Political Science is at the basis of his love for journalism and storytelling. A photographer by passion, and an audiophile by obsession, Ian is captivated by all forms of tech that makes enthusiasts tick.

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