Pixel 4 Rumors: Release Date, Features, Design and More

Staff Writer
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The Pixel 3 was our favorite Android smartphone to come out last year, thanks to its clever software, class-leading camera and understated design. That has us plenty excited to find out what Google is planning for the Pixel 4 later this year.

Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's GuideCredit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's Guide

Latest Pixel 4 Rumors: March 2019

  • A new set of Pixel 4 renders and leaked schematics suggest that the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL will ditch the notch in favor of a punch hole camera in the screen, as well a fingerprint sensor built into the display.
  • Google has unveiled the developer beta of Android Q, which includes several improvements. There are new sharing shortcuts, camera upgrades, smarter settings options and more. See all the new Android Q features.

Rumors and reports are trickling out about the highly anticipated device, which will certainly face stiff competition from the Galaxy S10 lineup of phones and Apple's yet-unnamed 2019 iPhones.

Here's everything we know to date about Google's next flagship, as well as what we're hoping to see in the upcoming generation.

Pixel 4 Release Date

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL were unveiled on October 9, 2018 and the phones went on sale in the U.S. Oct. 18. The handsets were released elsewhere Nov. 1. If Google followed a similar timeframe for the Pixel 4, we might expect the phones to be announced Tuesday Oct. 8 and hit store shelves Oct. 17, which would be the following Thursday.

Design

Leaked schematics and renders show a Pixel 4 phone that looks very much like the Galaxy S10, complete with a punch hole camera in the top right part of the screen. The good news is that the bezels on the design are much narrower than on the Pixel 3.

Credit: SlashleaksCredit: SlashleaksThe other key feature the render shows is an in-screen fingerprint reader. Previously, Google placed this reader on the back of the display.

The first hints we had for the Pixel 4's design came from patent filings showing full-screen handsets with extremely slim or virtually nonexistent bezels. Both were unearthed by 91mobiles.

Credit: WIPO via 91mobilesCredit: WIPO via 91mobilesOne of the filings depicts a device that is literally all screen — no notch, no speakers and no front-facing camera anywhere to be found. Undoubtedly, Google would love nothing more than to release such a handset, but it's safe to say we won't see anything quite so revolutionary in 2019. Hardware manufacturers just aren't there yet, which is why it's all but confirmed Samsung will set a hole-punch camera within the display of the Galaxy S10.

Credit: WIPO via 91mobilesCredit: WIPO via 91mobilesWhat's a lot more interesting — and, arguably, feasible — is the second set of sketches Google signed off on. This device does have a slim bezel encircling the display, similar to the iPhone XS, only without a notch for the front-facing camera. Instead, the Pixel's signature stereo speakers bisect the top and bottom edges of the screen. It's a unique concept — and likely sounds terrible out loud — but actually translates into a very clean, minimalist and symmetrical solution that doesn't impede real estate as much as a traditional notch would.

As always with patents, it's important to stress that these applications are not indicative of final products, or even prototypes in the pipeline. There's no indication the Pixel 4 will actually look like either of them. Nevertheless, if we had to put our money on one, it would be the first render from Slashleaks above.

Android Q

The developer beta of Google's Android Q software packs a lot of improvements, and we'll be learning more about other new features as we get closer to Google I/O 2019. So far, the best features of Android Q include better control over how you share your location, an estimate of remaining battery life, contextually aware settings menus and a faster-performing sharing sheet.

Other highlights of Android Q include easier sharing of Wi-Fi passwords and camera enhancements. Plus, call screening has been improved.

What We Want to See

Of course, we expect the next-generation Pixel to implement Qualcomm's premium system-on-chip, the Snapdragon 855, as well as even better cameras. But such improvements are really table stakes for the Pixel 4, so we're more interested in the ways Google could further differentiate the handset from its opposition.

One way to do that is through new forms of biometric authentication — either an in-display optical or ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, or 3D facial scanning akin to Apple's Face ID. The Pixel 3's existing rear-mounted fingerprint scanner works perfectly well, but it is one of the more dated aspects of the phone, and makes unlocking more difficult when the device is lying flat on a surface.

The Pixel 3 is no slouch, but as Android phone makers are continually beefing up their products with increasingly larger amounts of RAM, the Pixel 3's 4GB of memory feels a bit pedestrian. We hope this is raised to at least 6GB with the next model, as it would provide a nice boost to multitasking and launching apps from memory. Additionally, it's about time Google follow the lead of some other manufactures, like OnePlus, and make 128 GB of storage standard.

Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's GuideCredit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's GuideDesign is a subjective thing, and the Pixel 3's is admittedly polarizing. Personally, I like the symmetry of the smaller model and find it very simple and clean, though others contend that the bezels — and especially the massive notch on the Pixel 3 XL — make Google's latest flagships rather ugly and dated-looking. It would be great to see the company shake that perception with a slimmer, tighter aesthetic and perhaps even more exotic surfaces beyond glossy, painted aluminum and glass.

Some manufacturers are experimenting with stainless steel, ceramic, premium polycarbonates and new finishing procedures that allow glass to emulate the textural properties of other materials. Google has already exhibited a penchant for the unusual, with the Really Blue first-generation Pixel, the penguin-like Pixel 2 XL and the blush Not Pink option for the Pixel 3, so we're holding out for even more bold colorways and novel exterior touches.

Finally, if there's one particular area where the Pixel 3 could really use some help, it's in the battery life department. The 2,915-mAh power pack in the 5.5-inch model is just a bit too small to accommodate stress-free everyday use. For that reason, we'd really like to see a bigger battery closer in size to the 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL's 3,430-mAh unit.