Battery Life

Battery life of the Pixel 4 series was a concern from the very first moment we had confirmation about the phone having a 90Hz panel, yet doing nothing special or even regressing in terms of the battery capacity of the two models. I put the Pixel 4 XL through the paces in all three display modes, testing the battery life at 60Hz, 90Hz auto, and 90Hz forced refresh rates.

Web Browsing Battery Life 2016 (WiFi)

Unfortunately, as expected, the results aren’t too fantastic. The device that we should be comparing things to is the OnePlus 7 Pro – both devices feature 1440p 90Hz displays with the same SoC, it’s just that the Pixel 4 XL has a smaller battery at 3700mAh. While the Pixel 4 XL is lagging behind the OP7Pro, the interesting thing is that Google’s 90Hz seemingly uses less of a power hit than OnePlus’ implementation, degrading by 7.7% versus 8.7% when comparing full 90Hz versus 60Hz.

Given the results and the fact that Google dual-sources with LG, I very much doubt the Pixel 4 XL is taking advantage of Samsung’s newest more efficient OLED emitter generation which is said to be 15% more efficient.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Battery Life

In PCMark, the results are also average to bad. 60Hz to full 90Hz incurs a 12.3% penalty, which is again slightly less than the 13.6% of the OnePlus 7 Pro. Naturally we can’t come to a conclusion of saying Google’s 90Hz is more efficient, maybe OnePlus’ 60Hz power management is just better implemented.

Battery Life Conclusion - Average to meagre, still useable for the 4 XL

Overall, the Pixel 4 XL’s battery life isn’t very competitive. It’s amongst the worst results we’ve had for a 2019 device. I have to be accountable to myself here as whilst the phone has worse battery life than the OP7Pro, it’s not that much worse. Having said that the OP7Pro battery life was still completely useable, the Pixel 4 XL is also still very useable as it is. The problem again is that the Pixel came 6 months later, and in the face of a new iPhone generation which brought immense leaps in battery life, the Pixel 4 XL doesn’t seem to be that wise a purchase.

I really find it unfortunate that we weren’t able to test the battery life of the smaller Pixel 4. This model’s 2800mAh battery is 25% smaller and also comes with the wildcard of having an LG panel which historically have always been less power efficient. I can easily imagine that the battery life of that model is outright disastrous, and given coverage by other reviewers, it seem this would be an apt description of the situation.

Display Measurement Camera - Daylight Evaluation
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  • watzupken - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    To me, the great Android experience is basically negated by poor battery life, QC and high price on the Pixel 3 and 4 series. Battery life for a mobile device is an essential requirement which this fails bitterly for a flagship phone. I agree it's a very gimmicky phone. It's rare to see reviewers being so harsh in their conclusion, but I feel Google really deserved a harsh wake up call and not be half hearted when they design a product.
  • nostriluu - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    I really think the author missed the point of the Pixel series. They are about Google's machine learning based smarts, which are well ahead of other providers. I plan to buy a Pixel 4 for the on-device transcription feature alone, though other features, not related to the the up-to-dateness of its SoC, are making me hesitate.
  • kaesden - Thursday, November 14, 2019 - link

    the one benefit of this phone vs a samsung, is getting a clean Android install without a bunch of bloatware installed on it by either samsung and/or the carrier's image, which allows for timely updates rather being 1-2 years behind all the time. However i dont see this as a compelling 'upgrade' from a pixel 3 at all.
  • BabelHuber - Friday, November 15, 2019 - link

    I think that this review is a bit too harsh.

    I agree that the Pixel 4's battery is a bit too small, but the 4 XL should have sufficient capacity.

    The Pixel 3a XL I have lasts 3 days under light use and more than a day under heavy use, in fact I never was able to deplete the battery within a day before I came home, even when it was late in the eveing and used the phone excessively.

    So with a bit worse battery runtime, the 4 XL should still be fine, perhaps except of the most extreme use cases.

    I have played around with both the 4 and 4 XL and they both are very snappy and the face unlock works as advertised. It's not enough improvement for me to upgrade, though.

    When we skip all the fancy gimmicks, there are a lot of pros for the Pixels:

    - Bootloader unlocking and re-locking with fastboot, no crap like KNOX or warranty void
    - Very easy to apply updates even when rooted
    - Pixel users get new features first, like Google Lens
    - Timely, monthly security updates (at least for 3 years)
    - First to new Android versions via Google's beta channel
    - Still a very good camera (in my opinion)
    - The best software. I know this is subjective, but I e.g. cannot stand Samsung's or LG's launchers, phone apps, contacts etc.

    The software features are the main point for me personally. I don't give a rat's a$$ about bezel sizes, popup cameras or slightly better screens, but I want the newest software and being able to easily root the thing.

    Other people might put mnore emphasis on things I don't care for, but for me Pixels are the best.
  • MooseNSquirrel - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - link

    Agree. The actual experience of owning and using the phone matters more than opinions about marginal differences in specs.

    Ive had the Pixel 3 since release and its great, especially the camera. Battery life is fine.

    Frankly any of these top phones are great, regardless of who makes them. I just refuse to buy into Apples annoying walled garden and so will never own an Iphone.
  • Hubert Satheesh - Monday, November 18, 2019 - link

    Well if Astrophotography and Soli radars are gimmicks, what about forced touch for 6s? I just remembered about the glowing tribute to force touch when it was launched in 6s in Anandtech. It praised how it's going to be the future of touch... only to be discarded by Apple a few yrs later as it was not practically useful. Though astrophotography is not a common occurence brushing it aside as gimmick makes one wonder whether theres an inherent bias towards anything Google and being lax on Apple!! Going by the same yardstick, the reviewer makes noise about pixels low display brightness. Now how many of us practically use our phone in bright sunlight to want that? Do we really need levels abouve 800 and 1000? So practicality is not the issue in most cases. As much experience and features a phone can pack, its better. If not you, someone will be benifitted by it. However it's of crucial importance for the pixel team to read such reviews as they are out of touch with reality. It's as if the team is living under a rock!! It's interesting to see how chineses OEMs with limited budget, resources and know how, easily surpass the mighty google in hardware and software design. Google needs a serious introspection.
  • tranceazure1814 - Thursday, November 21, 2019 - link

    When you can buy a OnePlus 7 standard model with snapdragon 855 and 256gb of UFS 3.0 and 8gig of ram and android 10 oxygen for 300 pounds,with far better battery life and decent camera why would you pay for a pixel 4
  • coronafelix - Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - link

    Really odd camera review, zero testing when it comes to subject focusing or how the cameras deal with actual subjects. Which makes sense considering the narrative mostly focuses on samsung's 'advantage' in dynamic range. (I do agree with their advantage there, but they have weaknesses as well). I think more categories needed to be tested for all cameras..
  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, October 1, 2020 - link

    It looks like a much better phone then the pixel 4, but for $700 I'd expect a headphone jack and at least a 5000 MaH battery, or no headphone and 5500+MaH. I've given up on google ever using SD cards again.

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