Hey Google, this ain’t it, chief

Dated meme aside, I’m disappointed.

After months and months of leaks, this week saw the introduction of the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. After the onslaught tweets and articles revealing every single piece of information about the devices, I should feel numb to the launch. It’s worse than that. I’m annoyed and frustrated.

Let’s just touch on the Pixel 4 for a moment before we chat about the Google Pixel 4 XL. The Pixel 4 XL is obviously the device Google wants everyone to buy; why else would it gimp the Pixel 4 so much?

Let’s start with the pitiful 2,800mAh battery packed into the Pixel 4. It might make it to the end of your shift at work – maybe if you’re lucky and don’t use it that much.

The battery life on the Pixel 3 was already… not great. Google has gone and reduced the battery size from 2,915mAh to 2,800mAh. And on top of that, its 90hz refresh rate will reduce battery life.

For the sake of comparison, here’s an arbitrary list of phones and their respective battery sizes:

  • Google Pixel 4: 2,800mAh
  • Google Pixel 3: 2,915mAh
  • Samsung Galaxy S10: 3,400mAh
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e: 3,100mAh
  • LG G8: 3,500mAh
  • OnePlus 7 Pro: 4,000mAh
  • OnePlus 7t: 3,800mAh
  • Nexus 5: 2,300mAh
  • Google Pixel 3a: 3,000mAh

Besides the Nexus 5 (2013), the Pixel 4 has literally the smallest battery on the list. Like I said, this list is completely arbitrary but I think it proves my point that the Pixel 4 is pitiful. The Galaxy S10 and S10e have similar prices, yet far bigger batteries. The OnePlus 7 Pro and 7t are cheaper and crush it. Even the maligned LG G8 is far larger.

The battery is smaller, and that sucks on its own, but the display is going to be even more hungry. With a smaller power pack, I’m not very optimistic, but, we’ll have to see in our full review.

Big numbers sell phones

Specs aren’t everything but they do matter. We have plenty of examples of phones with top-notch specs that fall short due to crappy software implementation. That being said, you do need to pack in flagship specs to command a flagship price.

The Pixel 4 starts at $799 and the larger 4 XL commands an extra $100. That puts it in par with the latest offerings from Samsung, and Apple while coming in north of devices from LG and OnePlus.

Despite that price tag, the Pixel 4 and 4 XL start with just 64GB of storage, and it can’t be expanded via microSD card. OnePlus devices start out at 128GB and Samsung matches that – and offers a microSD card slot. LG sits at 64GB but does offer a microSD card.Only the Apple iPhone has the same 64 GB of unexpandable storage.

So, we have a poor battery and a lack of storage. What about RAM? One of the biggest issues with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL was that it had 4GB, putting it closer to the middle of the pack than the upper end.

Luckily, Google upgraded this year’s devices to 6GB. I applaud that decision but it still trails flagships from Samsung and OnePlus, both that can be had for a cheaper price.

I am the most hopeful about the RAM department because despite the rocky start, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL were tuned through software updates and it showed. It did get better, but the RAM management was never the strongest aspect of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL.

We buy these devices to use for multiple years, not just the year or so after launch. I don’t know how to recommend a device that is going to be “behind the 8-ball” so soon after asking customers to pay upwards of $1,000.

There are a ton of other things that really bother me about the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Going back to the storage issue, not only does it start out paltry but it’s slow too. A newer UFS 3.0 standard was semi-widely used this year and it’s sad to see the Pixels launching with the older, slower UFS 2.1.

Yes, there’s wireless charging but you have to use the Pixel Stand to get the faster 10W speeds. The camera saw an upgrade but the front-facing wide-angle lens is gone and there’s not one to be found on the rear.

I’ll never slight anyone for being excited about a new Pixel launch. Getting Google’s vision for Android in your hand is an exciting thing. But, I feel like the vision is flawed here. Relying on an excellent but flawed camera system is not enough. Mediocre battery life is not good enough. $800 and $900 price tag are not good enough.

The Pixel 4 and 4 XL are not good enough.

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