Today, I saw a prototype of the Pixel 4, on an airplane. One of Google’s employees was taking the phone for a test drive, two seats away from me. What did it tell me? A lot.
The Pixel 4’s design has been leaked thoroughly, so there were few surprises there. The phone that I saw had a white back, with a metal frame, and a black square camera setup, like has already been confirmed. However it is possible that the white rear was a skin on the phone. Personally though, I think this white and black look could be a good look, similar to the “Panda” Pixel 2XL. The phone also had an orange coloured power button, on the right side of the device, just above the volume rocker.
On the front, though, was much more interesting. The thing that drew my eye in the first place was the chin, or lack thereof. The bottom bezel of the phone was – to the best of my perception, anyway – as thick as the side bezels. At the top, a single front camera housed in a forehead that was slimmer than the Pixel 3’s, but only by a few millimeters. The earpiece was smaller than that of the Pixel 3’s too, which could impact call quality.
Personally, I like this design. It adds a lot of features into the forehead, so I think that it is worth it, but it still shaves down the bezels as much as possible.
One of the biggest features of the Pixel 4 is its integration with Project Soli, which will theoretically allow for interaction with your phone by performing hand gestures above the array of sensors in the phone’s forehead. In simple terms, it allows you to wave your hand and your phone skips song, or turns the volume up, or down, or does whatever it is that you want it to do.
Those sensors will also allow for face unlock on the Pixel 4, as there is no fingerprint scanner to be seen, which I witnessed firsthand. Maybe it was the excitement of seeing a prototype out in the real world, but to me, it really seemed like magic. Positioned flat on the man’s lap, he pressed the power button, and it unlocked. I would say that it was about as fast as the Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s face unlock, which is amazing this early on in the process, and especially at that 60 degree angle. Unfortunately, after briefly speaking to the man, I learned that most of Project Soli’s capabilities were locked on this prototype, so I didn’t get to see any other applications of the technology.
As I mentioned, on the front of the device, there was only a single camera, meaning that Google has dropped the secondary wide-angle selfie shooter. This doesn’t really bother me too much, as I’m not much of a selfie-taker, but it might bother avid selfie-takers. On the rear of the device, the cameras were arranged in a squircle shape, but I didn’t get a good look at the number of cameras, or what their purposes were, so not really anything to report there
However, I did spot the camera app. It appeared to have a complete redesign. I can’t recall specifics, but I do remember the menu at the top was greatly trimmed down, having only 1 button at the top.
Other leaks about the Pixel 4 say that the phone will come with a telephoto camera on the back, which is an odd choice considering Google’s foray into improved zoom with “Super Res Zoom” on the Pixel 3. I was banking on the phone having a wide-angle shooter, but that seems unlikely now.
Furthermore, some sources say that the Pixel 4 will have a 90Hz screen to compete with the likes of Oneplus and Asus. It seems that refresh rate is a big factor in flagship phones today, so if this leak is true, it could give Google the edge it needs to beat the competition.
No matter the specifics, one thing is sure. The Pixel 4 will have the best camera on a phone when it launches. The Pixel 3 is widely accepted to be the best camera on any phone, as it seems that the phrase “Of course, it’s no Pixel 3” seems quite popular when reviewing a phone’s camera, so we can only imagine what the Pixel 4 will bring to the table. So what do you think? Will you be preordering the Pixel 4, or will you hold off to see how Project Soli is implemented? Let me know in the comments below.