Skip to main content

Pixel 4 Battery Life Is Biggest Reason Not to Buy It

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are two of the most advanced smartphones ever made, filled to the brim with computational photography tricks, fancy hand gestures via a radar chip and a recording app that can transcribe what is said in real time.

It's just too bad that Google didn't pay more attention to one of the key basics: battery life. Based on our testing, both the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL trail the longest-lasting phones by a wide margin. 

Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL battery life vs competition

PhoneBattery Life (hrs:mins)
Pixel 48:03
OnePlus 7T8:47
Galaxy Note 10 9:10
Pixel 4 XL9:42
Galaxy S1010:19
iPhone 11 Pro 10:24
Galaxy Note 10 Plus 11:09
iPhone 1111:16
iPhone 11 Pro Max 11::54
Galaxy S10 Plus12:35

Pixel 4 battery life

With its 2,800 mAh battery, the Pixel 4's capacity is less than the Pixel 3's 2,915 mAh battery. So it wasn't a big surprise that this phone turned in a shorter runtime on the Tom's Guide battery test, which involves continuous web surfing at 150 nits of screen brightness. We use T-Mobile's network for our testing to be consistent across phones. 

The Pixel 4 lasted only 8 hours and 3 minutes on our battery test, which is well below the handsets on our best phone battery life list and most competing flagships. For example, the iPhone 11 lasted 11:16 while the iPhone 11 Pro (with a similar size display to the Pixel 4) lasted 10:24. That's about two and a half hours longer endurance from Apple's phone.

The picture isn't much better when you compare the Pixel 4 to Samsung's similarly sized flagship phones. The regular Galaxy S10 lasted 10:19 on our battery test and the regular Galaxy Note 10 hit 9:10. The Android phone that finished closest to the Pixel 4 was the OnePlus 7T at 8:47. 

Pixel 4 XL battery life

The Pixel 4 XL benefits from a larger battery than the Pixel 3 XL, as Google stepped it up from a 3,430 mAh pack to a 3,700 mAh one in its newer phone. The result was a battery life increase from 9 hours and 30 minutes to 9:42. Nevertheless, the Pixel 4 XL is shamed by other premium phones.

Take the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Apple's big-screen phone lasted an excellent 11:54, which is more than two hours longer than the Pixel 4. The Galaxy S10 Plus lasted an even longer 12:35. And the Galaxy Note 10 Plus endured for 11:09, which is nearly 1.5 hours longer than Google's handset.

Bottom line

If you're wondering whether the faster 90Hz refresh rate on the Pixel 4's and Pixel 4 displays contributes to the poor battery life, it does but not a ton. When we tested the Pixel 4 with the smooth display effect turned off we saw a runtime of 8 hours and 36 minutes, which is only about a half hour better than with 90Hz turned on.

The bottom line is that Google's new phones simply don't last as long on a charge as competing phones. So if battery life means a lot to you, go for the larger Pixel 4 XL to get more juice or opt for a Samsung phone or new iPhone