If you have a Google Pixel 2 or older, it’s officially time to upgrade to the new Pixel 4 — which is on sale for Black Friday (GOOG)
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- Google’s new Pixel 4 comes with an upgraded camera with two lenses, new motion sensing technology, and a smoother screen.
- But the upgrade is probably only worth it if you’re upgrading from a Pixel 2 or older.
- The new features and specs in the Pixel 4 will be much more noticeable if you’re upgrading from an older phone like the Pixel 2, and the Pixel 3 and 3a phones are still just fine, even by comparison.
- But Pixel 2 lacks many of the modern camera features found on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 4.
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After a deluge of leaks, Google finally took the wraps off its new Pixel 4 smartphone in October, which starts at $800 and began shipping on October 24.
During the Pixel 4’s unveil, Google brought out famous portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz to discuss what it was like to use the new device’s camera, hoping to prove that the camera system on its new device is more than capable of handling professional-grade work. It also flaunted the Pixel 4’s new radar-powered motion sensing technology, which can detect your presence and recognize your gestures.
But despite these advancements, you should probably only splurge on the Pixel 4 if you’re upgrading from a Pixel 2 or older. And if you are looking to replace your now 2-year-old Pixel 2, Black Friday may be the right time to do so. Best Buy will be offering a discount of $400 on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL with a qualified activation, as well as $200 off an unlocked Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL.
But if you have a Pixel 3, you may want to hold off on upgrading. Unless the Pixel 4’s gesture recognition is a must have for you — which allows you to perform tasks like skipping to the next track on your music playlist with just a wave — the differences between the Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 likely don’t warrant an upgrade.
That’s because there are a lot of similarities between the Pixel 3 and 4: both phones have a large, vibrant OLED display that squeeze about the same number of pixels per inch on screen and support HDR. Both have high quality cameras loaded with features powered by the software and hardware, and both include Google’s Titan M security chip, which is said to offer enterprise-grade protection — a feature that the Pixel 2 lacks.
The biggest difference between the Pixel 3 and 4, other than Motion Sense, is its camera. The Pixel 4 now has two cameras instead of one — the 12.2-megapixel wide-angle lens that Pixel 3 owners should be familiar with and a new 16-megapixel telephoto lens for better zooming.
The Pixel 4 also comes with a few new photography features, such as the ability to capture photos of a starry night sky, manually adjust the exposure and shadows when framing shots, and see what photos will look like in HDR Plus mode before pressing the shutter button. The Pixel 4 also features Google’s well-regarded Night Sight, which the company launched on the Pixel 3 in 2018. During my testing, the Pixel 4 outperformed the iPhone 11 Pro’s night mode in most situations when snapping photos in dark environments.
Other changes coming with the Pixel 4 are designed to make your phone feel a bit faster and more efficient. The new screen now has a 90Hz refresh rate, which should make navigating the device’s user interface and scrolling feel smoother and snappier. The Pixel 4’s face unlock feature works faster than the facial recognition on many other phones I’ve used in the past, since the phone’s radar sensors can detect when you’re nearby. The Pixel 4 also has 2 GB of additional RAM then the Pixel 3 (6 GB vs. 4 GB), and runs on a slightly newer processor compared to the Pixel 3.
Taken together, all of these features will probably make Google’s latest phone feel faster.
But the changes will seem much more meaningful if you’re upgrading from an older device like the Pixel 2, which runs on a Qualcomm processor that’s now two generations old and lacks many of Google’s modern camera features.
The Pixel 2 doesn’t support Top Shot, for example, which saves frames before and after the shutter button is pressed and chooses the best one. It doesn’t have Super Res Zoom either, which as its name implies preserves more detail when you pinch-to-zoom in digitally. The Pixel 3, however, has nearly all of the same camera features as the Pixel 4.
Plus, the Pixel 2’s screen is also noticeably smaller than that of the Pixel 4. The Pixel 2 has a 5-inch display, while the 4 has a much roomier 5.7-inch screen. The difference between the Pixel 3’s screen and the Pixel 4’s is much less noticeable — the Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch screen, only 0.2 inches smaller. The screen on Google’s aging Pixel 2 also doesn’t support HDR, unlike the Pixel 3 and 4.
All told, if you’re investing around $800 in a smartphone, it’s worth holding on to it for at least two years. But if you purchased the Pixel 2 at launch, you’re probably due for an upgrade and will find the Pixel 4 to be far superior.