It’s coming October 15th The Pixel 4, Google’s next flagship phone, is expected to debut in a matter of days at Google’s October 15th event. The only problem? There may not be much new for Google to show, given everything that’s already leaked.
When we first published this roundup in September, we thought we knew a lot. We’d already seen multiple hands-on videos of actual Pixel 4 XL that showed off three colors, its dual cameras, and gave us a pretty good idea of its specs. And earlier this year, Google itself got in on the action: it mic dropped the back of the phone and revealed the Pixel 4 would have both a Face ID competitor and built-in radar for air gestures. But it turns out even that was just the tip of the iceberg.
So what’s new? We may have now seen the smaller Pixel 4 as well, plus the official spec sheet for both new phones. It also seems as if the Pixel 4 might give you dual exposure controls right from the camera viewfinder. That face unlock feature? Looks to be pretty speedy in practice. And, oh yeah, Pikachu might teach how you to use those air gestures. And that’s just the start.
If you’ve already read this gigantic post once, settle in with some coffee to read it again — we’ve added lots of new info about what to expect from the Pixel 4. We’re collecting every single credible leak so you don’t have to hunt them down yourself. And keep checking back, because we’ll be updating this as we find even more.
Image: Google, re-stitched by @atn1988
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:
Well, since there seems to be some interest, here you go! Wait ’til you see what it can do. #Pixel4 pic.twitter.com/RnpTNZXEI1— Made by Google (@madebygoogle) June 12, 2019
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:
Photo by James Bareham / The Verge
RIP fingerprint divot.
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.
When we first published this post, we had only seen the Pixel 4 XL, but now we have an idea of what the smaller Pixel 4 looks like, too, thanks to what appears to be an official render of the Pixel 4 in black from serial phone leaker Evan Blass:
Image: Evan Blass (@evleaks)
The “Just Black” Pixel 4.
And, in September, The Verge obtained no fewer than 21 photos of what’s purportedly an unreleased Pixel 4 XL (though, apparently, it’s not a final unit), giving us another look at the entire front and back as well as 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:
The Pixel 4’s new camera bump doesn’t seem like it’ll stick out too far.
This industrial design is also corroborated by many leaked videos from people who’ve touched the phone, and even by what appears to be a Google-made ad:
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.
A Pixel 4 ad in Times Square.
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 an official Google ad in Times Square revealed a brand-new orange.
And recently, serial phone leaker Evan Blass not only shared that official-looking render of the black Pixel 4, but also official-looking renders of the Pixel 4 XL in white and orange. And it seems they’ll have typically Google-y names — the colors will apparently be referred to as “Just Black,” “Clearly White” and “Oh So Orange,” according to 9to5Google.
Image: Evan Blass (@evleaks)
The “Just Black” Pixel 4.
Image: Evan Blass (@evleaks)
The “Clearly White” Pixel 4 XL.
Image: Evan Blass (@evleaks)
The “Oh So Orange” Pixel 4 XL.
Here’s the whole alleged lineup in-person:
Image: Rabbit TV (YouTube)
Each color has a black band around the device.
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 many 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.
Specs and what’s in the box
What we know: Not much.
What we think we know: CPU, RAM, battery size, screen resolution, and storage sizes for both Pixel 4 models, and that a new “Pixel Neural Core” chip may replace the Pixel 3’s Visual Core chip.
What we don’t know: If a leaked spec sheet is accurate, we know just about everything.
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 and one big upgrade we’ll discuss later. Here’s what looks to be the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL’s official spec sheet, via 9to5Google:
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.
One intriguing addition? It seems the Pixel 4 will also have a “Pixel Neural Core” chip, which will probably replace the image-processing Pixel Visual Core chip found in the Pixel 3.
Here are some screenshots from our tipster that seem to corroborate what’s inside the larger Pixel 4 XL, including a screen resolution of 3040 x 1440 (leaks haven’t shown us what the smaller Pixel 4’s resolution might be):
And here’s what apparently comes in the box with the Pixel 4 in the US, again via 9to5Google:
This list seems to confirm that the Pixel 4 won’t come with USB-C headphones nor an adapter, so if you want to listen to music, you’ll need to provide your own or go down the Bluetooth headphone path. But if you’ve been waiting to spring for Bluetooth headphones until a new generation of 2017’s fiddly Pixel Buds, you might be in luck — Google may announce a second generation of its Bluetooth Pixel Buds soon, according to 9to5Google.
A speedier screen
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 we mentioned in the specs section? Not only does Google’s spec sheet mention that the Pixel 4 may have a 90Hz variable refresh rate screen, we’ve seen it in action in several leaked videos. It 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.
Nextrift, in a hands-on with what appears to be a Google Pixel 4 XL, found that when Smooth Display is switched on, the display’s refresh rate appeared to be “locked” at 90Hz. It speculated that the refresh rate would dip to 60Hz only if an app didn’t support the faster refresh rate.
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, and the Pixel 4’s camera software might let you change exposure through the viewfinder. The Pixel 4 might also have 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.
Image: Weibo via XDA Developers
Purported 8x zoom on the Pixel 4.
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.
Here are some portrait-style photos apparently from the Pixel 4 that 9to5Google says Google may use to promote the new phone. (The photo of the dog is particularly striking.)
Here’s a few more of those apparent official marketing photos, including some that appear to have Night Sight turned on, also from 9to5Google:
Even non-marketing photos that appear to be from the Pixel 4 look sharp — check out these from Nextrift, which says it took the photos on the left with a Pixel 4 XL and the photos on the right from a Galaxy S10 Plus. The Pixel 4 XL holds up:
Beyond taking detailed photos, what else 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:
Image: XDA Developers (YouTube)
Access options with a swipe on the viewfinder.
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.
And that astrophotography mode? The cache of Pixel 4 photos obtained by 9to5Google also has photos that appear to be taken using the new mode — have a look for yourself:
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 potentially cool addition to the Pixel 4’s viewfinder that’s not shown above is the ability to manually manipulate the exposure of highlights and shadows in your image, as shown in what appears to be an official Google marketing video of the feature obtained by 9to5Google. This feature honestly looks pretty wild, and very useful:
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.
Face ID has competition
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.
And, Google says face recognition can be used for payments, too, like Face ID. If you want to see how that works, here’s what looks to be an official Google video of the Pixel 4’s face unlock being used to buy Monument Valley 2 on the Play Store, via XDA Developers:
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:
Nextrift posted a Pixel 4 XL hands-on video that showed more of the face unlock setup process. (They had the “use accessibility face unlock” option checked, which doesn’t seem to require rotating your head to set up face unlock.)
Nextrift said that “a quick glance” was all that was needed to unlock their Pixel 4 XL. In their hands-on video, unlocking the phone seemed quite fast:
Nextrift also claimed that the Pixel 4 XL’s face unlock works “in very dark environments,” but they didn’t capture this on video.
Nextrift also found an interesting disclaimer on the face unlock settings: “Your phone can be unlocked by someone who looks a lot like you, say, an identical sibling.” Apple mentioned similar possibilities when it unveiled Face ID on the iPhone X, so this isn’t unusual.
The face unlock settings screen.
A disclaimer about face unlock.
And here’s what appears to be an official marketing video of face unlock in action, shared by 9to5Google. Looks pretty speedy in this, too:
The Pixel 4 has built-in radar
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:
Image: This is Tech Today (YouTube)
Gesture to check your lock screen.
Image: This is Tech Today (YouTube)
Gesture to skip songs.
Image: This is Tech Today (YouTube)
Gesture to snooze alarms and silence calls.
And, in what appear to be marketing videos of the feature made by Google, we can see swiping gestures used to silence an alarm and a phone call as well as skip a song, as shared by 9to5Google:
However, 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.
XDA Developers says they got their hands on the APK for a Motion Sense app that seems to be built into the Pixel 4, and in it, they apparently found a list of 23 apps that may support the Pixel 4’s gesture to skip songs. Some notable ones: Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, Spotify Stations, YouTube Music, and YouTube.
Based on data found in this APK, XDA Developers also says the Motion Sense app will work in 53 regions, up from the 38 that had been previously reported. But there are a few notable countries missing from the list, including Japan, Mexico, India, and New Zealand.
One fun thing to look forward to about Soli — it seems Google plans to show you how to use the feature with the help of some Pokémon. There is apparently an app on the way that will be titled Pokémon Wave Hello, and in it, it seems you’ll use motion gestures to pet and play with five Pokémon. 9to5Google has a video of the full demo, which is short, but unfortunately, it doesn’t show off the motion gestures because the demo isn’t running on a Pixel 4. Here’s a few screenshots:
A next-generation Google Assistant is on the way
What we know: A “next generation” Google Assistant is coming to new Pixel phones “later this year.”
What we think we know: The Pixel 4 will be the phone to introduce that much faster, next-generation Assistant with a new UI.
What we don’t know: If the next-generation Assistant will really be as fast or as efficient at responding as Google claims.
Google has told us a little bit about the next-generation Google Assistant already, showing a video of someone moving from task to task without requiring them to say “Hey, Google” each time:
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
Google showed that same demo live onstage at Google I/O, making it seem as if interacting with the next-gen Assistant will be more natural without the occasional awkwardness that exists currently:
If the next-gen Assistant works as advertised, it seems like it could be a great way to move around your phone using just your voice.
Nextrift’s Pixel 4 XL appeared to have the next-gen Assistant built in. In its testing, Nextrift said the Assistant was “noticeably quicker” at processing requests and that it could actually make requests of the Assistant without prompting with “Hey, Google” each time.
Nextrift also has a picture of what seems to be Assistant running on the Pixel 4 XL with a slick new UI:
The new Assistant UI.
We can get a better look at that new UI and the Assistant in action in this YouTube playlist from XDA Developers:
Don’t believe the 5G rumors
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.
A few other things
It seems like Google may be adding some smaller, quality-of-life upgrades to the Pixel 4 lineup, too:
Live Caption, which can automatically transcribe spoken audio from videos or audio playing on your phone, might finally arrive with the Pixel 4 after the company first announced it in May at its I/O developer conference. XDA Developers was able to get Live Caption working on a Pixel 2 XL using APKs ripped apparently from a prerelease Pixel 4 device, and based on its testing, the feature seems to work as Google promised. Here’s a video from XDA Developers of Live Caption transcribing a YouTube video:
The new Assistant feature that might ship with Pixel 4 might save you from the tedium of waiting on hold during a call. A new “Hold my Phone” feature might be able to tell you when a human finally picks up again, according to a source who spoke with 9to5Google.
You’ll be able to theme your Pixel 4 by changing the default color for quick settings / button toggles and picking different icon styles, according to leaked photos and screenshots and a hands-on video from 9to5Google:
The Pixel 4 might have a way to keep your phone from automatically turning off if it sees that you’re still looking at it. There was a feature called “screen attention” in an early Android Q beta that appears to have made its way to these leaked Pixel 4 XL units as well. And we suspect that the Pixel 4 could take advantage of its newfound Face ID-like tech to do that similarly to the iPhone.
If you’ve been jealous of Apple’s white-balancing True Tone displays, the Pixel 4 may have an answer to that as well: a feature called Ambient EQ, which “dynamically adjusts the display based on surrounding light levels.”
Image: AnhEm TV (YouTube)
A settings menu showing off Ambient EQ.
Leaks have shown that Google will likely include a new voice recorder app on the Pixel 4 that can automatically transcribe your recordings. 9to5Google has a hands on with the new app:
Squeezing your Pixel to activate Google Assistant may continue to be a thing this year, as this leak seems to confirm that Active Edge will return.
The Active Edge menu.
Google will introduce new live wallpapers with the Pixel 4, according to 9to5Google, which has previews of nine of them. Many of the new wallpapers are optimized for dark mode and can be customized in different ways (such as choosing a different color) so you can make your wallpaper your own. A couple have some fun tricks; for example, one looks to act like a compass, while another seems to show planets and moons from the perspective of the center of the solar system. Here’s a video of what seems to be the new wallpapers:
Pixels might soon have new safety features if you’re in a car crash. XDA Developers found this in what seems to be an accidental update to the Pixel 2 XL’s Emergency Information app, which will apparently be rebranded to “Personal Safety.” It says that if you’re using the new app, and your Pixel senses that you’ve been in a car crash, it will give you two prompts to confirm that you’re safe. If you don’t, the app will automatically dial 911 for you, and can send your location to emergency contacts.
Google may release “a somewhat significant update to YouTube Music” with the Pixel 4, according to a source who spoke with 9to5Google. And Google said, on September 27th, that YouTube Music will now come preinstalled on all devices that ship with Android 10, so we can reasonably expect that YouTube Music will come preinstalled on the Pixel 4.
The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL should support Netflix in HDR, according to since-removed listings at Netflix’s support page, but so do the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Although it could easily come to other Pixel phones as well, XDA Developers spotted an intriguing new “Rules” feature that could let you program your phone set its ringer volume (or go silent) when you arrive at a certain place or connect to a particular Wi-Fi network.
By the way
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! 9to5Google also reports that sellers on a Malaysian auction site are selling Pixel 4 XL demo units, so perhaps we will see leaks from those phones soon, too.
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.
Update, October 3rd at 7:28PM ET: Added what appear to be new renders and official specs, what might come in the box, new rumors about the Pixel 4’s photography capabilities, potential sample photos, a new video of the new Recorder app which can automatically transcribe audio, what appear to be official videos from Google of Face Unlock, Motion Sense, and the new Google Assistant, photos of a Motion Sense demo featuring Pokémon, and much more.