Among their many other announcements yesterday (some of which I’ll be covering soon in specific articles), Google officially announced the latest version of its flagship smartphones, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Among its special features are being the first smartphone with radar, multiple cameras, 3 microphones and advanced HDR Plus that can even shoot stars, in case you are into astrophotography. They also have a ≈90 Hz display and HDR preview. In this first look article, I’ll give you more details and two special links where you can save either US$100 in two different ways. Even though Google is now offering the Pixel 4 (XL) via all of the big 4 US carriers, I still prefer their own Google Fi service for several reasons.
Radar? On a phone?
Yes, and I am not talking about a radar detector, or the nickname of the MASH character, Corporal Walter Eugene “Radar” O’Reilly. I’m talking about real radar (a word derived from RAdio Detecting And Ranging), which is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the range, angle, or velocity of objects. Google said at the press conference that they are the first to miniaturize radar in a microchip small enough to be inside of a smartphone.
Why do they use radar? It’s teamed with infrared to let you unlock the Pixel 4 (XL) with your face. They are the first Android phones with face unlock that’s secure enough to be used for payments with Google Pay as well as with password apps. This replaces the fingerprint reader. But there’s more. It’s also used for the Pixel 4 (XL)’s gestures, where you can use your hands at a distance to send a phone call to voicemail or to skip a podcast episode or song on a playlist. And when the phone is ringing or otherwise alarming you, the volume automatically gets lower as you get closer to the phone.
More details about the cameras
- 16 MP
- 1.0 μm pixel width
- Autofocus with phase detection
- Optical + electronic image stabilization
- Spectral + flicker sensor
- ƒ/2.4 aperture
- 52° field of view
- 12.2 MP
- 1.4 μm pixel width
- Autofocus with dual pixel phase detection
- Optical + electronic image stabilization
- ƒ/1.7 aperture
- 77° field of view
With the provided camera app, the rear camera can shoot:
If you have read my prior articles, you know that I only recommend ≈30p or lower for for web distribution. However, this is useful for organic slow motion in post. For playing on a 720p TV station, 50p or 59.94p are fine.
Front camera for self-portraits (“selfies”)
- 8 MP
- 1.22 μm pixel width
- ƒ/2.0 aperture
- Fixed focus
- 90° field of view
- NIR flood emitter
- NIR dot projector
- 2 NIR cameras
With the provided camera app, the front cameracan shoot:
Later we’ll discover which exact resolution and framerate options will be possible with FilMiC Pro or FV-5 Cinema, which I’ve covered before. In the past, they have provided additional framerates like ≈24p, ≈25p & 50p, and will likely continue to do so, together with many other controls.
Reduced depth of field still photos (which the industry has strangely decided to call “portrait”) are now performed via both rear cameras to cut and edge blur of subjects over previous Pixel phones. They also offer wide-angle “portrait mode” for the first time. All of this is possible thanks to Google’s Neural Core chip that processes everything locally on the Pixel 4.
The standard Pixel 4 has a 5.7-inch ≈90Hz OLED with a palindromic 444 ppi (pixel per inch), while the Pixel 4 XL has a 6.3-inch ≈90Hz OLED display with a denser 537 ppi.
Pricing and 2 ways to save US$100 or even US$120
The starting price for a Pixel 4 is US$799 or US$33.29/month for 24 months with 0% financing (from Google Fi and some other carriers). Add more money for the XL or for more storage space.
You can save US$100 two different ways: either in extra US$100 credit from Google Fi or US$100 store credit from B&H Photo. In the former case, you can even trade in your current phone, and you should get US$20 discount on your second month of Google Fi by using that link, for a total of US$120 savings.
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Save US$20 on Google Fi, my favorite mobile telephony and data service
One of my favorite service for broadcasting live via is Google Fi. Click here to save US$20 on Google Fi, which now works on iPhone and Android. With Google Fi (covered previously in several articles), there is no extra charge for data-only SIM cards on the same account, for up to 10 devices. You only pay for the total data, and data is free after 6 GB per month. So you could be using one Google FI SIM card on your primary phone, another in a tablet or secondary phone (or third, of fourth…).
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