Have you ever been on a blind date? Or maybe just set up with someone you don’t know very well? The lead up to those types of interactions are fraught with mystery and intrigue that can cause excitement, anxiety, surprise or letdown. That’s sort of the same thing that is happening with the Pixel phones from Google this year. If you’ve paid any attention at all over the past few months, every detail has been leaked ahead of time. Every spec, every feature, and every announcement was discussed prior to Google’s hardware event.
In the midst of such spoilers, what could there be left to discuss? You likely already knew we’d see two phones at 5.7-inches and 6.3-inches with three colors: black, white, and orange. You probably knew Project Soli was on board with its radar and motion sensing tech and you knew about the 90hz screen. You weren’t surprised by the duo of 12MP and 16MP cameras, the lack of a wide angle lens and the inclusion of a telephoto one.
So, how in the world do we even talk about a phone that has been laid so bare before it launched? Well, we’re going to be talking about it in the coming days and weeks in terms of what it actually feels like to use it in real life. Spec sheets and feature lists are great for knowledge, but they do little to speak to experiences. For instance, you likely know that with Motion Sense I can wave my hand over the Pixel 4 and change tracks in a variety of music apps. What you don’t know is how well it actually works and whether or not it feels like a feature that is even worth getting used to using.
So far, in my experience, the fact that the radar sensor helps the phone sense my proximity and intent as I reach for it – triggering the face unlock sequence as I raise the phone to look at it – makes far better use of the new tech in the Pixel 4. That’s just one example of many that come to mind when I think about what it is like to use a phone in the real world. Google seems less worried about specs like the Snapdragon 855, 6GB of RAM, and the FHD resolution in the Pixel vs. the QHD in the XL and more worried about the end user experience.
Will that experience be a good one? Will the cameras re-take the top spot in the smartphone world? Will the big forehead always look awkward? Will the next-gen Assistant deliver in actual usage or will it still feel like it did on the Pixel 3?
Those are the types of questions we want to spend time on, put our thoughts together around, and ultimately deliver to you. I know we rarely talk about phones to any great extent around here and that isn’t likely to change very soon, but Google’s more-rounded focus on the helpful Assistant is right in our wheelhouse, and the Pixel 4 is basically right at the center of an equation that includes phones, smart home stuff, and the latest Pixelbook. So stay tuned for a full review in the coming weeks as we take our first stab at reviewing a phone from a Chromebook user’s perspective.