Google Pixel 4 XL Rapid Review

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I have been fortunate enough to have spent the last week with Google’s new flagship phone, the Pixel 4 XL. How did this phone perform? Is the camera as good as Google has stated? Read my Rapid Review to find out.

In the box

The Google Pixel 4 XL comes with the basics. When I say basics, I mean the basics. You’re getting the phone, an 18 W USB-C power adapter, a 1 m USB-C to USB-C cable (USB 2.0), the Quick Start Guide, a quick Switch Adaptor and a SIM tool. You don’t get any earphones with the Google Pixel 4 XL.

Design

From the front, the design of the Pixel 4 XL looks very much like a Pixel phone. The review unit I had came in a colour called ‘oh so orange’. I wasn’t too sure that I’d like the colour. However, I have grown to love it, and I will consider getting a coloured phone the next time my contract is due for renewal. The rear of the phone houses the cameras, which protrude out ever so slightly.

There isn’t much of a bezel to speak of, with the edge to edge display. The edge of the phone is ever so slightly textured, giving you a little bit of a grip when holding it. Gone is the notch of the Pixel 3, replaced by a thin black bar along the top of the phone in which the front-facing camera is hidden.

Screen Quality

The Pixel 4 XL has a 6.3″ quad high definition Corning Gorilla Glass 5 screen. I found text and images to look sharp, and the colours were vivid. The phone also features a 90-Hz dynamic refresh rate. When the phone is static, the phone switches to a lower refresh rate, therefore saving battery life. This meant that scrolling through websites with lots of text, and playing games was seamless and smooth. I imagine that most end users wouldn’t notice too big a difference when it comes to the refresh rates.

Android 10 Operating System

The Pixel 4 XL uses the latest version of Android (not named after a sweet treat) Android 10. Having used an Android phone before, it didn’t take me long to get to grips with this version of the Operating System. A useful feature that I discovered while using the Pixel 4 XL was the pause app mode. Instead of deleting an app, or silencing the phone, you have the option to pause a particular app. Doing this stops notifications until the following day, or until you unpause it.

I liked the customisation option on the Pixel 4 XL. From the home screen, a long press will take you to the ‘Styles and Wallpapers’ options. Then you can choose from a variety of wallpapers. Or for further customisation, you can select a style. Styles change the font, icons and overall look of the phone.

Motion Sense / Face Unlock and Project Soli

The Pixel 4 Xl doesn’t have fingerprint sensors. This was a little surprising to me. However, it does have a very good face unlock feature. Using motion sense powered by a Project Soli radar chip, when you pick up the phone, it proactively turns on the face unlock feature. It recognises your face in mere seconds, and it never once failed to recognise my face. You can also use the Soli chip to use gestures.

For example, when using Spotify, I was able to swipe my hands in the air, above the phone to move backwards and forwards through a music playlist. It also gives some visual feedback in the form of a streak of light across the top of the phone. Other uses for these gestures include silencing a phone call, and an excellent app called Pokémon Wave hello. Using a variety of gestures, you can interact with many Pokémon. The uses for this feature are limited at the present, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it will be integrated more deeply into the OS in future.

Active Edge

A smart, if an unnecessary feature of the Pixel 4 XL is Active Edge. By squeezing your phone, it activates Google AI. 

Performance

Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, the Pixel 4 XL is very fast. Even playing the most graphically demanding games like Call of Duty Mobile, I didn’t experience any lag or slowdown at all. It was able to handle multitasking with several programmes running in the background.

Storage

For some strange reason, the Oh So Orange version of the Google Pixel 4XL comes with only 64 GB of storage while the Clearly White and Just Black versions of the phone have an option of 128 GB. I do have lots of apps on my phone, and I did get a message to say that my storage was filling up, so I had to delete some. Thankfully, as the camera is the biggest selling point of the phone, you get unlimited online storage with Google Photos.

Camera

Perhaps the standout feature of the Pixel 4 XL is the cameras. I’m by no means a professional photographer; however, I was so pleased with the images that I was able to capture using the Pixel 4 XL’s cameras. As you can see in the pictures below, the quality is amazing! The pumpkin pictures were taken in the night, and the detail and clarity are excellent. In short, the night sight feature is incredible.

Some further examples of the Night Vision mode can be seen below. I took some pictures of our bonfire display. The results speak for themselves.

Battery

Using the included 18 W USB-C power adapter, you can charge the phone fully in around 2 hours. Others have found the battery a little lacking. However, I found that the battery, with moderate daily usage, was able to last throughout the day.

I have been using this as my primary handset for the past week, and my typical day consists of checking my emails, being active on Social Media, playing games, listening to podcasts and taking photos. Even after all of these activities, I had some battery remaining at the end of the day. The Pixel 4 XL tells you how much battery you have left until you need to charge is again. I found this to be a handy feature.

Conclusion

I’ve been using the Pixel 4 Xl for a week now, and it has been such a positive experience. My usual primary phone is the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, which I’ve called the best phone I’ve ever used. However, Pixel 4 XL has made me rethink this. The Pixel 4 XL is fast, easy to use, looks great and has a class-leading camera. I highly recommend this phone.

Rapid Reviews Rating

You can purchase the Google Pixel 4 XL from the Google Store on the following link, https://store.google.com/gb/product/pixel_4

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