Possible Google Pixel 4 camera sample hints at incredible new feature

pixel 4 20x zoom
Google Pixel 4 CAD-based render

UPDATE: False alarm, people! Claude Zellweger has clarified that the photo in question was actually taken on the Pixel 3a. He used zooming and cropping to achieve the final image.


Google has already built up a pretty solid reputation in the smartphone camera department but the Pixel 4 should take things to the next level. It’s rumored to include an updated primary camera, a new telephoto alternative, and a mysterious third sensor. Reports also suggest a DSLR-like software implementation is being prepared and it now seems as though this may enable an incredible new feature.

Is 20x zoom on the cards for the Pixel 4?

As spotted by YouTuber Brandon Lee from This is Tech Today, the Director of Design at Google, Claude Zellweger, recently posted a photo to his Instagram page which was shot inside the Google Design Studio. The company’s Creative Lead and Industrial Design Manager, Alberto Villareal, subsequently complemented Zellweger on his photo, to which he replied saying it had been shot at “20x zoom” on an unspecified Pixel device.

Despite boasting Super Res Zoom software, a Pixel 3 is simply incapable of producing a shot with this much clarity at a similar zoom level. Therefore, it wouldn’t be crazy to suggest that perhaps this photo has been taken on a pre-production Pixel 4 unit paired with the rumored DSLR-like feature. 

The exact details of Google’s new camera software are yet to be reported but it seems like it could potentially be a game-changer for Pixel smartphones. After all, it’d instantly put the flagships in the same league as Huawei’s P30 Pro or the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom, both of which offer 5x optical zoom through a special periscope-like lens and 10x hybrid zoom. The Huawei P30 Pro also supports 50x digital zoom but this doesn’t exactly produce the best images.

The move would also put the Pixel 4 duo leagues ahead of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10, which supports 2x optical zoom, and presumably the iPhone 11 or iPhone Pro, which should also offer 2x optical zoom.

What else will the Pixel 4 offer in the camera department?

In addition to this potential advancement in the software zoom department, the Pixel 4 is also expected to include several other upgrades that’ll be made possible by the new square-shaped camera module which is positioned in the top-left corner.

Per the latest information, Google’s next flagship will boast an updated 12-megapixel sensor on the rear that’ll act as the primary camera. Accompanying this should be an all-new 16-megapixel snapper which will reportedly be paired with a telephoto lens. It’s unclear at this stage what level of zoom this will support without the improved Super Res Zoom software, but it’ll likely be either 2x or 3x.

Accompanying these should also be an LED flash and what has previously been referred to as a ‘Spectral Sensor.’ Details about what this can do remain scarce but it could potentially capture information that isn’t available to the naked eye such as x-rays, ultraviolet, and infrared. The sensor may also capture depth data for individual pixels and better identify materials. Overall, the benefits could include better low-light photography and portrait images.

Google Pixel 4 & Pixel 4 XL specifications

The upcoming Pixel-branded smartphones are expected to arrive powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 paired with 6GB of RAM and the choice of 64GB or 128GB of non-expandable internal storage. 

The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL should launch with stock Android 10 Q pre-installed and new Google Assistant features. Regarding the battery, the small model should include a 2,800mAh capacity while the larger version may up this to 3,700mAh.

Completing the setups will reportedly be 5.7-inch and 6.3-inch AMOLED displays respectively. Both of these panels will support a 90Hz refresh rate but the resolutions will be different. Specifically, the Pixel 4 should offer a FHD+ (2280 x 1080p) resolution and the Pixel 4 XL will reportedly increase it to QHD+ (3040 x 1440p).

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