After a deluge of leaks, Google finally took the wraps off itsnew Pixel 4 smartphone earlier this week, which starts at $800 and begins 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. 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.
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 also has 2GB of additional RAM then the Pixel 3 (6GB vs. 4GB), 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.