It’s coming October 15th
Google’s Pixel 3 might have been the most-leaked phone in history. Long before its unveiling, we knew practically everything about it from unboxing videos, photo comparisons, even a full review of the device. Surely, for the Pixel 4, Google would clamp down on leaks to leave some surprises for its debut on October 15th, right?
Let’s just say, if that was the plan, it didn’t exactly work out. We’ve now seen the Pixel 4 XL from every angle and in three different colors. At least seven different sources have touched this phone, many of them confirming the same specs. We not only know which cameras it’ll have, but also what they may be capable of, including air gestures (go figure). That doesn’t even count information Google has already shared on purpose.
So if you want to know almost everything about the Pixel 4 nearly a month before it’s announced, buckle up. We’ve sifted through all of the rumors and information we can find to compile everything we know — and everything we think we know — about Google’s upcoming flagship into one gigantic post.
What we know: It’s got a big camera square around back, a huge top bezel up front to house all its sensors, and a prominent black band around the sides.
What we think we know: Thanks to an unprecedented number of leaks, we can show you what appears to be the Pixel 4 XL from practically every angle.
What we don’t know: The fingerprint reader. Is there one?
The industrial design for the Pixel 4 isn’t much of a mystery because Google showed us a preview back in June:
Right away, we can tell Google has moved away from its previous Pixel design language. The two-tone matte glass back is gone, replaced with a sleeker monolithic design with no fingerprint divot — almost like an iPhone. And that’s before we consider that it’s got an iPhone 11-like camera square: a prominent rounded square housing at the top left of the device with at least two prominent cameras inside.
Here’s what today’s Pixel 3 looks like, for comparison’s sake:
Google also showed us that the top of the phone will have a large bezel to house a bunch of sensors we’ll discuss later. For now, know that Google appears to be moving away from the massive, ugly notch on the Pixel 3 XL.
That’s all Google has officially shared about design, but there’s a lot more we can show you, thanks to many leaks. For example, The Verge recently obtained no fewer than 21 photos of what’s purportedly an unreleased Pixel 4 XL (though, apparently, it’s not a final unit), revealing the entire front and back and giving us a close-up of that camera square:
If you want a better look at the sides and bottom of the phone, look no further than Vietnamese site GenK:
According to people who’ve touched early units, both the rear cover glass and the outer band have a textured matte finish that resists fingerprints and sweat.
One note: since the leaked photos and videos have all been of the larger Pixel 4 XL, there’s a chance the smaller Pixel 4 might look different in some way. But the Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL and Pixel 3A look close enough that, honestly, we doubt it.
What we know: The Pixel 4 will come in black and orange.
What we think we know: There may be a white model.
What we don’t know: Other possible colors.
Google apparently can’t wait to show off the colors of the Pixel 4, as it has already shared two of them: the first tweet about the Pixel 4 revealed a sleek black, and, just this week, an official Google ad in Times Square revealed a brand-new orange.
The many leaks of the Pixel 4 XL also appear to reveal a white color, which is shown off above in this article. Here’s the whole alleged lineup:
Like earlier Pixels, each appears to have a colorful power button as an accent, with the black and orange phones offering a white button and the white phone sporting an orange button. We can also see that the camera bump stays black on all three phones — as opposed to the iPhone 11, where Apple mills it right out of the same piece of colored glass.
A “mint green” version of the Pixel 4 might also be on the way, Indiashopps.com reported in June, but we haven’t seen it in any of the leaked videos or photos of the Pixel 4 XL so far. There’s a chance it could be just for the smaller Pixel 4 since we haven’t seen leaks of that yet. But given that Google has used the same colors across both smaller and larger models of previous Pixels, it seems less likely.
What we know: Not much.
What we think we know: CPU, RAM, battery size, screen resolution, and storage sizes for both Pixel 4 models.
What we don’t know: The Pixel 4’s screen resolution.
Google hasn’t shared any hardware specs for the Pixel 4 yet. But based on the flood of leaks, we think we can expect some nice but incremental upgrades from the Pixel 3 (with one key exception we’ll discuss later). Here’s what the leaks tell us:
Today’s flagship Android phones like the Galaxy Note 10 almost always use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor, so that’s just playing catch-up. But it should be a decent boost over last year’s Snapdragon 845. The bigger change might be the RAM: if true, it’s a 2GB jump from the Pixel 3 to the Pixel 4. And the smaller Pixel 4 may get a slightly larger screen at 5.7 inches, up from 5.5 inches on the Pixel 3.
Here are some screenshots from our tipster that seem to corroborate what’s inside the larger Pixel 4 XL:
We can’t be sure that the smaller Pixel 4 will have the same basic specs, but historically, Google’s larger and smaller Pixel phones have always shared the same chipsets within each generation, and we’d expect that trend to continue with the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL.
What we know: Nothing. Google hasn’t said anything about the Pixel 4’s display.
What we think we know: The Pixel 4 might feel smoother to use because it may have a 90Hz variable refresh rate display.
What we don’t know: How much a variable refresh display might drain the battery.
That key new hardware feature I mentioned in the specs section? Leaks show that the Pixel 4 may have a 90Hz variable refresh rate screen that could make scrolling around the phone feel a lot nicer, much like the buttery smooth screen on the OnePlus 7 Pro.
There's even a menu setting for the so-called “Smooth Display” in the supposed Pixel 4 XL’s settings menu, according to photos like this one from GenK:
And here’s a video of the supposed Pixel 4 XL's screen in action, including on-device gameplay footage of PUBG Mobile:
Google's leaked setting suggests the higher refresh rate might have an impact on battery life, though. While The Verge’s Dieter Bohn still saw the 90Hz OnePlus 7 Pro easily last a full day in his review, it has an even larger 4,000mAh battery, and we've definitely seen the 120Hz Razer Phone last longer with the refresh rate turned down.
What we know: The Pixel is no longer a single-camera phone. There'll be at least two main cameras around back. No more wide-angle front-facing camera, though.
What we think we know: That second camera has a telephoto lens capable of up to 8x digital (not optical) zoom, with a new astrophotography mode and a mode for capturing quick action shots.
What we don’t know: The full extent of the Pixel’s camera software upgrades.
The iPhone 11 Pro has now surpassed the Pixel 3’s single camera in image quality, but the Pixel 4 may be bringing another sensor: a second 16-megapixel camera with a telephoto lens, according to data found in the Google Camera app by 9to5Google.
While we don’t know its focal length or everything it can do, leaked photos suggest you might be able to zoom up to 8x with the new Pixel phones using what’s likely a combination of optical and digital zoom.
Otherwise, the Pixel 4 seems to be sticking with a 12.2-megapixel main camera — a tried-and-true resolution for phones specializing in low-light images, typically by using larger pixels instead of cramming more of them into the same space — but now with a slightly faster f/1.73 aperture that should let in a little bit more light than the previous f/1.8 lens.
What can those cameras actually do? Well, XDA Developers got its hands on an early build of the Google Camera app from one of those phones, and it confirmed both a “Motion Mode” for capturing action shots, and a new astrophotography mode that had previously been rumored. (That Google-made ad? It shows off astrophotography, too.)
The redesigned camera interface looks organized and pretty easy to use, putting lots of options within easy reach without cluttering up the screen too much:
If you want to take better photos of people in action, such as when they’re playing sports, the new“Motion Mode” might help. But we haven’t seen any photos taken with the mode, so it’s not quite clear how well it might work.
We already have a couple of sample astrophotography shots from XDA Developers by substituting a Pixel 3 XL. On a Pixel 4, we would expect these shots to be better.
We wouldn’t be surprised if these two modes are just the start. There’s always the chance that Google has kept a brand-new camera feature under wraps that blows our minds as much as Night Sight did.
One other note on cameras: the Pixel 4 XL’s extremely busy front bezel no longer includes a wide-angle selfie camera. Now, we appear to be looking at a single 8-megapixel front-facing cam with an aperture of f/2.
What we know: Google officially says you'll be able to unlock your phone with your face, like Apple’s Face ID.
What we think we know: The setup process looks very similar to Apple's.
What we don’t know: How well the Pixel 4’s face unlock actually works.
Those new rear cameras aren't the only image sensors on the Pixel 4. It's also got an entire Microsoft Kinect’s worth of infrared cameras and projectors powering an all-new face unlock system, according to Google's blog post.
Check out this GIF below to see how it works. See if you can spot the important difference from Apple's Face ID:
See it? The Pixel 4 won’t make you swipe up to unlock your phone after a face is detected, potentially saving you thousands of future thumb swipes. Your thumb may thank you.
In its blog, Google shares a few more neat details about how it all works:
As you reach for Pixel 4, Soli proactively turns on the face unlock sensors, recognizing that you may want to unlock your phone. If the face unlock sensors and algorithms recognize you, the phone will open as you pick it up, all in one motion.
What's Soli? More on that in a sec.
Google also says the Pixel 4’s face unlock will work at “almost” any orientation. If true, it could be another improvement on Apple’s Face ID, which previously only worked when your phone was in portrait.
Like Apple, Google says it’s not storing your face in the cloud. The company says all of the facial recognition processing is done on-device.
It also looks like you’ll set up the Pixel 4’s face unlock system just as easily as Face ID. Here's the similar head roll you'll do to train it, according to a GIF posted by GenK:
Unfortunately, GenK couldn’t complete the face registration process with this phone, so we don’t have any idea of how it fast or how secure it actually is compared to Apple.
What we know: Google fit a tiny radar chip called Soli into the top bezel of the Pixel 4 to let you do things on the phone with the wave of a hand.
What we think we know: A few ways it might work, including skipping songs, silencing calls, and checking your lock screen.
What we don’t know: How good the motion-sensing will actually be or how useful motion-sensing might be at all.
You read that right: Google crammed a tiny radar into the Pixel 4 to sense your hands waving above the device. That information comes straight from Google, which claims you’ll use it to switch apps just by swiping, as shown in this video:
Google calls the tech Soli, and it’s something that the company has been working on for years. In the Pixel 4, Google says Soli will power something it calls Motion Sense, which will let you “skip songs, snooze alarms, and silence phone calls” with the wave of a hand. (It also appears in that leaked ad.)
It may also serve as a neat, low-power way to check your lock screen without touching your phone, according to these leaked menus:
But that may be all it does for now, and none of these leaks have shown off Soli in the real world — GenK couldn’t get it to work — so we don’t have any idea right now if Motion Sense will be easy to use or perhaps really fiddly.
What we know: One rumor about a 5G variant of the Pixel 4 was faked.
What we think we know: Federal Communications Commission filings suggest Google’s next phones won’t have millimeter-wave 5G either.
What we don’t know: Google could have a separate 5G version of the Pixel 4 it hasn’t submitted to the FCC yet.
You might have seen some chatter about Geekbench scores for a “Google Pixel 4 XL 5G,” but don’t get your hopes up. Those scores were faked, and early reports that a set of new Google phones had shown up at the FCC with millimeter-wave 5G were probably confused by the fact that Google’s Soli radar technology uses millimeter-wave as well.
(We took a look at the FCC filings, and they do show a millimeter-wave radio. But it runs at very low power, primarily emits through the front of the phone, and automatically turns off when you’re holding it against your head, which all sound more like Soli.)
There’s always the chance that Google will release a 5G version of the Pixel 4 down the line, but we wouldn’t count on it.
It seems like Google may be adding some smaller, quality-of-life upgrades to the Pixel 4 lineup, too:
Running on-device and coming to new Pixel phones later this year, the next generation Google Assistant can understand and process your requests up to 10 times faster, making operating your phone, multi-tasking and even composing email easier than ever. #io19 pic.twitter.com/iNPpOvwDM2— Google (@Google) May 7, 2019
You might be wondering how all of these unreleased Google phones are finding themselves in the hands of bloggers and vloggers. We don’t have the answer to that yet. Last year, early Pixel 3 XLs that look earmarked for internal testers were reportedly stolen and sold on the Ukrainian black market, and the subsequent Russian language reports all seemingly had the white version of the phone.
This year, we’re primarily seeing the white model of the Pixel 4 XL — only these leaks appear to be centered around Vietnam and Thailand, not Ukraine and Russia. We traced a few of them back to a Hanoi shop known as D Store Mobile, but the owner wasn’t interested in hiding; they gladly sent us 20-plus pictures of the phone!
If you’ve got more information, we’d love to know what you know. Like pricing, for instance. It’s the one key detail we’ve heard nothing about.
We’ll be adding more to this story as other leaks pop up.