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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  • brucethemoose - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    The cost difference between 64GB and 128GB of smartphone flash has to be trivial these days. Its hard to believe anyone is still doing it, much less that Google and Apple are doing it in $800 flagships.
  • crimson117 - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    It's because the 64GB is priced lower to get you in the door, so they can upsell the 128GB to you for ~$50 more of mostly profit.
  • Jcaro14 - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    Yeah this phone is not for you, if you are looking for the latest hardware design you should stick with Samsung, Huawei, or Xiaomi. The Pixel is design for the best Android Software experience. I'm if you had one you would understand but since you just go by what the tech snobs say, sadly you won't be able to experience this awesome software experience that the Pixel provides.
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    The Pixels are not the best "Android" experience, they're outright a Google experience.

    Most of the Pixel only features are geographically or language limited. If you're not using any of those features then the Pixel lineup is no any better at Android than say a Samsung device.
  • Pooppoot - Saturday, November 9, 2019 - link

    I disagree as someone who has used both and most Android devices! To me the Pixel line offers the "best" Android experience! It's a subjective matter though.
  • Quantumz0d - Monday, November 11, 2019 - link

    Wrong. I've also used Pixel 3a and it's nothing vs a custom skin or even a barebone Lineage OS.

    AOSP is being degraded with every Pixel revision. Pixel uses proprietary System UI and they offloaded a lot of Android's AOSP apps to their own - Messaging, Phone, Browser all are EOLed in AOSP. Pixel System UI has the worst customization features ever. And even their latest Recorder app is using Scoped Storage, thus once you record you do not see it in your Filemanager/filesystem which is BULLSHIT and can be shared from app (WTF?) plus no icon pack support too or the garbage launcher. Nova decimates that to oblivion.

    Best is subjective, I like LG because of no bloat (Smartworld and one more app that's all) vs others like Samsung because it has all the things you need from time location, notification dots numbering on status bar customization to even notification transparency on lockscreen, Plus AOD watch faces and all. OnePlus offers faster Android UX. Mind you all these are proprietary and beat Pixel user experience a.k.a Google Experience ( dumbed down experience )

    So yeah there's no Best, old times Nexus used to have the best Android experience with it's pure Stock AOSP skin. Then there was Cyanogen Mod with insane customizations and free themes, halcyon days of Android. Lineage OS and it's derivatives like Resurrection Remix have tons of features in built and there are lot of ROMs which massively improve on UX and speed / customization like Potato ROM.
  • s.yu - Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - link

    I had to work with an S4 Lite 4 years ago for a few months because my phone at the time got stolen, and it lagged to the point of being unusable so I said what the hell and flashed Cyanogen, however it continued to lag without notable improvement.
  • generalako - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

  • generalako - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    I'm not a tech snob, but a long-time Pixel user. Hardware DOES MATTER when I pay $800.

    Quality control DOES MATTER.I RMAed two different Pixel 2's and thre different 2 XL's. I RMAed three different Pixel 3's and two different 3 XL's. That's unacceptable for a flagship phones. The number of widespread QC issues in this series of phone is unprecedented -- as someone who buys and tests flagships, and also sell them, I have never seen anything like it.

    Battery DOES MATTER. Medicore battery size for the size and thickness, and battery life for battery size being mediocre as well, leading to bad battery life, generation after generation, is unacceptable.

    Display DOES MATTER. Going with a mix of Samsung OLED and shitty and cheap LG OLED, treating their calibrations differently, is unacceptable. As is bad calibraiton (especially gamma -- how can you provide black crush like this, year after year!?). As using LG OLED full of grain and color uniformity issues. It's like they're ordering the cheapest units they can get their hands on, from both LG and Samsung.

    RAM DOES MATTER. When they can't prove themselves by good RAM management, but instead bad, then 4GB is not enough and impedes on actual user experience. 6GB as well over time.

    Storage DOES MATTER. Spotify downloads alone take up 32GB. And when they decide to completely abandon the customers with free original backup on photos, this becomes even more important.

    And on and on it goes. I used Pixels for years because, as you point out, software smoothness and consistency is important for user experience. But none of it excuses all the other range of issues they have, nor does it justify the price tag they have. Pixel 3a gives me Pixel UI smoothness as well, for example, and it costs $400

    I actually jumped to the 3a from the 3, due to all the issues I had, and consider it an overall superior unit. Even Pixel 2 was a superior unit, as the Pixel 3 regressed in display quality, battery life and even smoothness (for some reason).

    Don't forget that Google was doing the superior software schtick with Nexuses as well: Nexus 5 is one of the best phones every made, Nexus 7 v2 the best tablet ever made, precisely for this reason. But they were cheap units. Likewise, Pixel 3a is Google's best Pixel ever, and Chromecast, Home Mini, etc. are their best products. Problem is that Google wants to make "flagship" units where it provides mostly same low-quality, but for 2-3x the price. That's unacceptable. You know that.
    Pixel 4 isn't a $800 device just as the Pixel Slate wasn't a $1000 device.
    I can't believe I waited so long for this device and was naive enough to think that maybe Google would learn. But they never do.
  • s.yu - Saturday, November 9, 2019 - link

    In their argument, the BOE panels are probably cheaper?

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