Test Google Pixel 4: still one of the best smartphones in pictures
Google Pixel 4 is the second model of the brand to be officially released in France. Once again, the smartphone "made by Google" is an opportunity to highlight its prowess in terms of applications and software optimizations. Without being the most stunning smartphone of the moment, the Pixel 4 presents itself as a showcase for Google's technologies.
Lancé at 769 €, it has the luxury of being cheaper than its predecessor. It is even more affordable than the majority of high-end smartphones, whose prices are flirting with the €1,000 mark. In the same price range are none other than the OnePlus 7T Pro as well as a range of high-end Android smartphones released earlier this year.
Ergonomics and design
Tancés for their lack of originality in terms of design, the Pixel 3 were not really fancy. Those who expected more from Google on this point will be disappointed. Pixel 4 is not a model of originality either. Still, there is progress, on the scale of Google's smartphones. For starters, Pixel 4 erases part of the lower edge of its screen. It now occupies more than 80% of the front of the smartphone. A correct score, but far from that of the best students in the discipline.
La fault is the responsibility of a top border that persists. A choice that can be explained by the appearance of the Face Unlock system, which allows you to unlock your smartphone thanks to facial recognition. Google boasts a system as advanced as Face ID at Apple. In practice, we have not been able to fool the vigilance of the device with a resembling face. A flaw that we often come across on more rudimentary recognition systems. Here, the velocity of the unlocking is exemplary, whatever the ambient luminosity. Logically, wearing an accessory masking the face limits the use of Face Unlock. But there remains the annoying drawback of this unlocking mode: it does not require to have your eyes open, as required by the iPhone for example, and can lead to forcing a user to unlock the smartphone against his will. Google has promised to provide an update to correct this in the coming months.
La speed of unlocking is partly due to the use of another feature: Motion Sense. Derived from theSoli project, this technology detects movements near Pixel 4. Thanks to this detection even before the smartphone is touched, Pixel 4 is able to activate its facial recognition. Motion Sense also allows you to control certain things without direct contact with the smartphone. It is thus possible to switch from one musical track to another by passing your hand in front of Pixel 4 in one direction or the other. More anecdotal, Google allows you to interact with animated wallpapers featuring Pokémon. Motion Sense does not work without a hitch and its interest is finally rather limited to use.
Les regular users of Google Assistant will be able to access it thanks to Edge Sense, already present on Pixel 3. The operation is quite simple: just press the edges of the smartphone to open the Assistant and start interacting with it. We would have liked to be able to set this shortcut differently, for example to launch the camera or quickly access an application of our choice.
Pixel 4 remains a perfectly finished smartphone. The back has been given a glossy finish, abandoning the "two-taste" side of Pixel 3. Without being particularly small, Pixel 4 is one of the latest high-end smartphones whose format allows for almost total one-handed use. The Google terminal also retains its IP68 certification, ensuring that it is dustproof and waterproof (up to 1.30 m deep for 30 minutes).
Désormais well and truly buried, the 3.5 mm mini-jack plug is not even available through a USB-C adapter. At least, not by default, because Google doesn't provide one in its toy box. Our usual battery of tests is therefore not necessary, as the sound quality only depends on the wireless device paired with Pixel 4. Note that the absence of a mini-jack plug and adapter pushes us to remove a star to the ergonomics note of Pixel 4. This is the case for all smartphones in the same configuration, such as the iPhone 11 Pro, for example.
new design of Pixel 4 did not bury the stereo speakers. The first one is located above the screen and the second one on the lower edge. Overall, they offer a satisfactory performance, with excellent spatialization. The lower end of the spectrum is poorly represented, as on all smartphones, but you can easily catch yourself watching a small episode of a series on your Pixel 4.
Pixel 4 has a 5.7 inch (14.48 cm) diagonal Oled slab screen. It therefore benefits from a display with exemplary contrast. The maximum brightness does not really pass a mark. With a measured value of 441 cd/m², the Pixel 4 does an honest job, but far from the best - some reach double that. Pixel 4 is partly forgiven for this thanks to a very low light reflection rate for a smartphone (41%). It remains perfectly readable in bright sunlight, without the need to climb too high in brightness. A resource-saving choice.
We also features Google's excellent mastery of colorimetry. We measured a delta E at 1.6, attesting to accurate colors. The color temperature is 6,643 K, close to the video standard (6,500 K). Note that Google has introduced an Ambient EQ function that adapts the color temperature to the lighting environment. The lower the ambient light, the warmer the display gets. A process that works as well as Apple's True Tone.
Pixel 4 display is capable of displaying at a refresh rate of 90 Hz. In theory, this gives a greater feeling of fluidity in use. In practice, the change from 60 to 90 Hz is done in an obscure way according to the uses that Pixel 4 deems relevant. The screen of the Google smartphone is particularly reactive, with a tactile delay measured at 49 ms and an imperceptible persistence.
Google's Pixel 4 is based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 platform. This platform is built around 8 Kryo 485 cores, divided into 3 groups with different operating frequencies. It is supported by 6 GB of RAM. Our tests show that Google has perfectly optimized its smartphone to get the most out of the most powerful mobile chip of the moment. On our multitasking evaluation protocol, Pixel 4 scores 99.07, placing it in contact with the best students. It is on the heels of the OnePlus 7T Pro (99.83) and its 8 GB of RAM.
For the video game, the iGPU Adreno 640 is fully exploited. So much so that the Pixel 4 is the best performing smartphone on our gaming protocol. It scores 113.89, outperforming specialists such as the Asus ROG Phone II (103.36) or the OnePlus 7T Pro (99.21). In practice, Pixel 4 has proven itself capable of running all the games in the Play Store in the best conditions of graphics and fluidity.
Google is still not giving up on the amount of photo modules in its smartphones. This year, Pixel 4 has only two on the back and this choice is debatable. Indeed, Google has proven that using a digital zoom can give as good results as most smartphone telephoto lenses with its Pixel 3. So we were hoping to see the Pixel 4 simply gain an ultra-wide-angle module, which it is not possible to simulate. Unfortunately, Google chose to add a telephoto module to its wide-angle module. The photo part is therefore composed of :
Google was able to repeat the prowess of its Pixel 3. By using a module based on a 12MP sensor and a stabilized optics whose aperture increases to f/1.7, the Pixel 4 ensures a quality as good or even better than that of its predecessor. When light is present in sufficient quantity, against a serious competitor like the iPhone 11 Pro, the Pixel 4 clearly does not demerit. Both smartphones are neck and neck in terms of image quality. The iPhone offers a warmer rendering, but Pixel 4 proves to be excellent right up to the edges of the image.
Parmi the novelties introduced in photo by the Pixel 4, we find the possibility to manage the exposure of the front and the background. This works rather well and is practical when it comes to unblocking certain areas when the exposures are too different in the foreground and background.
We has devoted a full article to the performance of Pixel 4 in low light, please refer to it for more details. Difficult conditions in which the Google smartphone simply excels.
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Pixel 3 proved that it was not necessary to have a telephoto lens module if the image processing was good. We are therefore surprised to see Google choose such a module for its Pixel 4, rather than an ultra-wide-angle one. The Pixel 4 produces rather good daytime shots on this secondary module, but again offers a rather cold rendering.
In low light, the Pixel 4 does well and stays on its telephoto module, while many competitors switch back to wide-angle and operate a digital zoom. Without offering a greater amount of detail than the iPhone 11 Pro, the Pixel 4 offers a much more accurate exposure.
Pixel 4 chooses not to propose to switch directly to the second optic with a dedicated button. Here, Google uses a real zoom, which will draw from the digital for a magnification up to 8x.
Caméra front, portrait mode and vidéo
À On the front, the Pixel 4 retains an 8MP sensor. The shots it captures are not the best we have seen in terms of finesse. On the other hand, the software does an excellent job of exposing faces, even in backlighting.
Google's portrait mode is still among the best on the market. The trimming of the subjects is very clean and the image processing manages to capture small strands of hair without any problem, even when the background is complex.
In video, Google has not aligned itself with the best smartphones in the field. Indeed, Pixel 4 is only capable of filming at maximum 4K at 30 fps, whereas an iPhone 11 Pro, for example, is capable of shooting at 60 fps. The result loses some fluidity, but the level of image quality remains excellent.
In with its Pixel 4 with a battery capacity lower than that of Pixel 3, Google does not send a very positive signal for the autonomy of its newest one. On our SmartViser test protocol, Pixel 4 lasted 14 h 41 min, which is as long as its predecessor. A rather disappointing score, when the majority of competitors last at least 2 hours longer under the same conditions. In practice, this translates into a day and a half of use without too many greedy uses. The most addicted to their smartphone may find it difficult to finish the day. Too bad.
Pixel 4 is supplied with an 18 W charger that allows 50% of the battery to be recharged in half an hour. A 100% recharge takes more than an hour and a half.