Comment: The Pixel 4 Deserves To Be Supported For Longer

The Pixel 4 and 4 XL, because the second strongest units within the Made by Google smartphone lineup, deserve assist for at the least another Android replace — and right here’s why.

Given Samsung’s not too long ago elevated software program replace dedication, it’s straightforward to have a look at Google’s personal replace guarantees and really feel aggrieved. Three full OS updates and an additional yr of safety patches was the most effective on Android for a while. Whereas it’s straightforward to complain about that, the Pixel 4 sequence is a superb instance of a tool shedding software program assist approach earlier than its time.

Video — Google ought to assist the Pixel 4 for longer

One in every of this stuff is just not like the opposite(s)

Right here’s the crux of the issue: the Pixel 4 is just not like Google’s pre-2021 flagships. Regardless of releasing again in 2019, the step-down and realigning of the Pixel sequence with the Pixel 4a 5G, 5, and 5a signifies that although you lose out on superfast mobile 5G connectivity, the older handsets present larger under-the-hood energy with out sure compromises.

Within the efficiency charts, the Pixel 4 sits just under the Pixel 6 and 6 Professional. This leaves it in an odd place because the second strongest machine within the Made by Google smartphone line. It’s set to get Android 13, however the lesser Pixel 4a 5G, 5 and 5a include an extended assist window than the Pixel 4 and 4 XL.

With out absolutely evaluating the most effective of 2019 with the late-2021 cohort, the Pixel 4 sequence shares extra in widespread with the Pixel 6 than the units launched in-between. For starters, there are little and enormous units, together with the Pixel 4 with an FHD+ display and the Pixel 4 XL with a QHD+ show. Though the digital camera techniques are usually not fairly straight comparable, there may be one main similarity: Pixel Neural Core. This vastly improves on-device photograph and video processing.

Because of this all the 2020 Pixel machine lineup has a technically slower — or inferior — digital camera system regardless of using the identical Sony IMX363 fundamental sensor and virtually similar software-based tuning. It’s straightforward to argue that the Pixel 4 — particularly the 4 XL — was a tad underrated. It was solely really let down by blended battery longevity. In every single place else it elevated the Pixel expertise with a easy 90Hz AMOLED display, playful design, and trademark digital camera system.

The addition of the Soli radar chip was an fascinating experiment that in the end failed on smartphones. It has led to extra makes use of in different Made by Google {hardware} just like the Nest Hub 2nd Gen, nevertheless it does imply that you’ve got entry to some really unique gesture-based options that you simply gained’t discover on some other Pixel. From direct usability and each day expertise views, Soli doesn’t have an effect on the Pixel 4 all too drastically.

Face Unlock can be a giant differentiator that was touted as coming with the Pixel 6 Professional. It’s not fully clear if we’ll ever get 3D face unlock tech again on a Pixel nevertheless it’s quick, correct, and vastly extra dependable than the in-display fingerprint scanner on the Pixel 6 sequence. We’ve seen no new software program introductions to benefit from the radar-powered {hardware} and that probably gained’t change any time quickly.

A minimum of on paper, the Pixel 4 sequence is a extra enticing proposition than the Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 5, and 5a. Forgo 5G connectivity, and also you’ll get a premium Pixel with a equally nice digital camera, the latest Android replace, quick Face Unlock, a great 90Hz AMOLED display, and total a extra succesful SoC.

That’s a protracted solution to say that whereas the Pixel 4 is just not fairly a flagship by 2022 requirements, there is no such thing as a lack of energy obtainable when in comparison with earlier generations and all however the newest and biggest. If the Pixel 5 — and by extension, the 4a 5G and 5a — will be capable of run Android 14, then assist for the marginally extra highly effective Pixel 4 ought to pose no points.

Dedication to sustainability

Lately, we now have seen Google take acutely aware efforts and steps to improve the utilization of recycled and sustainably sourced supplies for the Pixel sequence and first-party {hardware}. From optionally available circumstances to the heavy metals used throughout the Pixel line, these are all notable and vital steps in the best path given the ubiquity of tech in our each day lives.

But when Google is really critical about sustainability or certainly environmental issues, then increasing the assist window of current smartphones just like the Pixel 4 slightly than solely specializing in new or upcoming {hardware} is the proper place to start out.

Rising machine longevity by way of software program updates can be a less expensive and more practical approach of being a sustainably pushed tech agency. Google’s prior work with Qualcomm to cut back the trouble required to carry the most recent Android releases to older chips has not affected the Pixel sequence. So whereas this work will increase the flexibility to supply month-to-month patches, the particular circumstances surrounding the Pixel 4 sequence imply that, absolutely, further assist is way extra warranted.

Being critical about sustainability in reality signifies that transport new merchandise shouldn’t at all times be the primary precedence. Naturally, that’s simpler mentioned than completed however the honus must be squarely placed on manufacturers slightly than the patron for any actual progress to be made on this regard.

Why ought to Google set a precedent for the Pixel 4?

I’m underneath no illusions that this request/criticism/annoyance is prone to fall upon deaf ears inside Google’s wider Pixel and Android groups. That mentioned, with a supposedly rising userbase and avid fanbase, good product PR is at all times a purpose to make a constructive change corresponding to this.

With a smaller product pool, if Google is intent on tackling Apple within the tiny variety of markets the Pixel is being offered inside, then upping the Android assist size can be a first-rate solution to appease present homeowners and even entice potential patrons. My colleague Ben Schoon even attests to the identical, however with a spotlight upon the current Pixel 6 sequence. If you’d like the longest-lasting telephone, then you definately’ll go for a Galaxy.

Though that is an remoted case, bumping assist for the Pixel 4 and 4 XL can be an enormous PR win and one which logically makes plenty of sense. Certain, this might have some unintended knock-on results however the makers of the Android OS has fewer excuses transferring ahead with regards to machine replace home windows particularly as Samsung will honor its personal 4 OS replace promise. Trying backwards and rectifying some complicated errors is just not a nasty factor.

Google has backed itself right into a nook in some ways courtesy of a messy 2020 lineup. This leaves the Pixel 4 and 4 XL in a assist quandary that’s not in contrast to many Chinese language OEM units which are left excessive and dry when a more moderen, shinier mannequin is launched. Hyperbole apart, that isn’t strictly true provided that Android 13 will mark the pre-approved three OS replace schedule for the Pixel 4 and 4 XL. We’ve seen Android 11, Android 12, Android 12.L, and shortly Android 13. That dedication was completely fantastic again in 2019 when the machine duo hit retailer cabinets.

Specs have by no means really been on the coronary heart of what makes the “Pixel Expertise” a particular one. That mentioned, the inner {hardware} is above and past what you’ll discover on the Pixel 4a, 4a 5G, and to a lesser extent the upcoming Pixel 6a. 6GB of RAM and a former flagship processor is an ideal mixture for the lightest taste of Android to really shine. If Android 14 does have a minimal specification requirement, the Pixel 4 and 4 XL will definitely exceed it.

For years Apple’s persevering with assist for older units has put all of Android to disgrace. Samsung’s elevated efforts to supply expanded assist home windows for its earlier flagship traces ought to set off Google to behave. The Pixel 4 is the proper place to start out.