Pixel 4 XL bashing misses the big picture: here is why I think this is the best Android phone of 2019

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Pixel 4 XL bashing misses the big picture: here is why I think this is the best Android phone of 2019
The new Pixel 4 series are getting a lot of flak from reviewers this year. And you have probably already heard the complaints: the battery life is not quite great, it costs too much, there is only 64 gigs of on-board storage, and on, and on.

Many of those criticisms are valid, but... I've been using the Pixel 4 XL in the past few days and those things are a footnote to something more important: this is the most enjoyable Android phone I have used so far in 2019, beating all others with its refinement and class. Those are not things that make for a great headline and they are not included on the specs list, but they are hugely important once you actually start using a phone.

Specs don't tell the whole story



You can learn many things about phones by looking at their specs, but not quite the whole thing. And it's in those intangibles that Google excels.  

The first thing that I noticed about the Pixel 4 XL is the amazing display. You know the specs: it's a 6.3-inch OLED display with a very high resolution (1440 x 3040 pixels), but let's be honest and admit right away that every other phone out there features a big OLED screen, that is not what stands out. Where this particular display really excels, though, is in color reproduction: white balance is as perfectly tuned as I have seen on an OLED screen so far and colors have a vibrancy and richness to them, without going into the extreme neon tonalities (a problem I see commonly on other high-end phones and their Vivid modes). This display is an absolute marvel and if you value great image quality, you will appreciate it.

One thing it is not, however, is as bright as the screen on the latest Galaxy series or iPhones. This is a bit annoying when you look at the screen outdoors, on a bright sunny day, and I hope Google improves this aspect in the future, but apart from this issue, the Pixel 4 XL has a truly amazing display.

Right after the incredible display, the other thing that strikes me about using this phone is just how smooth and quick it is. The quickness is not just about the processor. Again, every flagship phone this year comes with the same Snapdragon 855 chip and while all those phones perform about the same in benchmarks, it doesn't mean that the actual experience of using those phones is the same. The Pixel brings together the most refined Android gesture navigation system so far with the speed of a 90-hertz screen response, plus a good amount of under the hood optimizations, that combine for a killer performance. In my humble opinion, the Pixel 4 XL sets a new standard for a buttery smooth performance on the Android platform, and others should take notice.

Attention to detail like no other


Another area you won't see mentioned often is the refined haptic feedback on the Pixel. The vibration motor here does a great job with a precise, well-tuned taps for notifications, but also for typing, which I found to be an extremely pleasing process on the Pixel. I was able to type faster and with less error thanks to that well-defined haptic feedback.

Then comes the attention to detail: the live wallpapers are absolutely gorgeous and it's hard to wrap your head around the reason why other companies simply don't pay that much attention to visual details like these wallpapers. It honestly feels like you are going back in time when you look at the poor selection of wallpapers on other rivals. Of course, this is not a reason why you would buy a phone, but it gives you a deep personal satisfaction to own a device where designers have crafted little details like that as well.

I also have a lot of good words about the loudspeaker quality on the Pixel: I personally listen to a lot of music on Spotify right on my phone, it's often just easier than to connect to a speaker or headphones, and the loudspeaker here is loud and clear, among the best I have heard on a smartphone.

Last, but not least: it is the Android experience as a whole. There are no heavy, not quite thought custom skins that would slow down the phone, there are no excessive options, there is no clutter.

What about the downsides, though? We have run the Pixel 4 XL through our battery tests and while it doesn't excel in any of them, it's definitely not at the bottom of the charts and is right about average. In my personal experience, the phone would last a full day and while I do wish it went the extra mile, I don't see battery life as a big issue. Quite honestly, last year's iPhone XS, for example, struggled in a big way with battery life, but was getting far less criticism for that, so it's a bit surprising to see the excessive criticism towards the Pixel.

Final words


Are there things that Google could have done better with the Pixel? Absolutely: for the camera nerd, the lack of an ultra-wide camera is an absurdity (I know it is for me), video quality is lackluster, for the specs obsessed the meager 64 gigs of on board storage are simply not acceptable at the $900 price point, and we've already mentioned the battery. And those much talked about radars are an absolute gimmick that I quickly disabled because they actually would skip songs when I unintentionally gestured around the phone.

But as I said in the beginning of the article, those ultimately feel like a footnote to the grand theme of the Pixel 4 XL: this phone is an absolute joy to use in a way that I have found no other Android phone quite matches. And while you should know about its shortcomings, keep that in mind and don't skip on the new Pixel without trying it first.

Related phones

Pixel 4 XL
  • Display 6.3" 1440 x 3040 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, Octa-core, 2840 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3700 mAh

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61 Comments

1. Atrixboyyy

Posts: 619; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

"Quite honestly, last year's iPhone XS, for example, struggled in a big way with battery life, but was getting far less criticism for that, so it's a bit surprising to see the excessive criticism towards the Pixel." Some honesty.. I look forward to getting one

4. maherk

Posts: 7014; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

It's funny how and according to their "tests", the XS was a battery champ, just like with the camera, and only this year after Apple really did improve the camera and battery life drastically, now they can be honest about the shortcomings of the XS.

35. sgodsell

Posts: 7581; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

It's Victor, and you can't trust him, period. Still waiting for your battery test scripts Victor. But everyone will be waiting till kingdom come for Victor to tell or show the truth, or those battery scripts.

19. applesnapple93

Posts: 336; Member since: Jan 06, 2016

I'd hope it is the best phone of 2019 since its released in the last 2 months of 2019.

23. TBomb

Posts: 1666; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Different writers are writing different articles with different voices/opinions. We can't expect every article on the site to have the same exact message attached to it. Over time opinions change too.

30. maherk

Posts: 7014; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Except that in this case, I'm talking about Victor.

2. Jrod99

Posts: 778; Member since: Jan 15, 2016

Watched Painfully Honest Tech yesterday. He wasn’t to kind to it.

14. jmill75

Posts: 127; Member since: Jul 22, 2009

Not sure how anybody watches that guy anymore. One minute he hates Apple, the next Android. He's in it for the clicks like most Youtubers these days. I miss the old "real" reviews.

15. maherk

Posts: 7014; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I subscribed few months ago, all he does is clickbaits. As you mentioned, one day he hates Apple and adores Android, the next day it's the opposite.

26. toukale

Posts: 669; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

@maherk - Which makes his viewers and subs the suckers. it is why no one should care about those reviews, blogs and news sites, all in it for the clicks.

28. ivan.k

Posts: 37; Member since: Jan 29, 2014

@toukale Of course, the clicks and page views are important, they pay the bills. How do you think the sites get income, not only PA? They sell information. Why we should work for free? Are you working for free? You don't care but, commenting...

34. toukale

Posts: 669; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

Triggered. Some of us can't handle the truth.

37. MrMalignance

Posts: 331; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

Any of you watch Flossy? His reviews feel honest and straight forward

39. Vancetastic

Posts: 1761; Member since: May 17, 2017

Flossy is my favorite for sure.

41. maherk

Posts: 7014; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Same here, Flossy is my favorite. His videos can be long and hard to always watch them, but when I want an honest advice about a gadget I'm interested in, Flossy is the first that I would check his reviews.

50. iushnt

Posts: 3154; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

From a rating on 1 -10, this product is a major major major go!!

51. maherk

Posts: 7014; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Ladies, you know the procedure.

53. miketer

Posts: 541; Member since: Apr 02, 2015

Yep, he's a cool guy. I think his channel should be called 'painfully honest'. I liked it when he gave the review of BlackBerry Key 1 a few years ago. Nobody else gave a plain, fair and truthful review about it than him. Actually there were some die hard fans of BlackBerry here who couldn't take it. Not that those fans made a scene here, but when DarkJedi mentioned it, the reply from the fan was 'Well, i faced no issues'...which might be true for his usage.

3. User123456789

Posts: 1166; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Ugly (rear panel). Worse battery endurance than S10 and X1 (both bigger with less battery than 4XL). Daylight shot are worse than previous generations (I downloaded samples from gsmarena, many are very underexposed, noisy with oil painting looking). Half baked Soli

16. Georgio

Posts: 295; Member since: Nov 21, 2016

You keep your cheap phone and stop crying ! Pixel 4 looks much better than s10 ; the s10 has 2 big ugly holes in display. Pixel 4 takes the best picturest!! Daylight or night ; pixel 4 destroys everything!! Also the battery is very good. Now go and look for some cheap phones to buy hahahaha

47. User123456789

Posts: 1166; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Rear panel of Pixel 3 has much better design. This black frame gives a cheap look. I said s10 has better battery endurance. I did not say it looks better. Notch and hole disgust me.

21. jmill75

Posts: 127; Member since: Jul 22, 2009

Hey look, another person that doesnt own the phone yet has so many opinions on how "good" it is or isnt. Ughhh Glad Im a big boy and can make my own decisions and dont listen to the internet. Must suck

46. User123456789

Posts: 1166; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Go to gsmarena and download the photos. You will be horrified It is really easy to see on sites that you cant download or on those silly youtube comparisons made by people without photography knowledge and think it looks great.

6. DBozz

Posts: 116; Member since: Sep 19, 2019

Best android of 2019? No where pixel 4 is close to that title except that one fact that it gets first android update and with slightly better camera... Note10 (+S10 lines) and one plus 7 lines are the well suited for that title! If 4xl costs around 400$-450$ then it would have been a different game...

8. bitwiser

Posts: 30; Member since: Sep 28, 2018

I feel it is the best android has for user experience...NOT which ha the most features it could cram in that most people will never use causing the phone to be slower or stutter. I had the Note 10 and the experience on the Pixel is just hands down better. A joy to use. Hard to feel that just picking up a unit for 5 minutes at Best Buy to play with it. You have to own one as a daily driver to understand.

32. Suts_97

Posts: 130; Member since: May 05, 2012

I can attest to that as a Pixel 4 XL user. It is such a joy to use, just wished the battery was bigger, otherwise, it is just crazy fast and reliable!

45. TBomb

Posts: 1666; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

It's a brand race first, a spec race second, and a experience race last. Even if the Pixel has a PERFECT user experience, unless it has the specs and brand to match, it will never win anything.

58. DBozz

Posts: 116; Member since: Sep 19, 2019

Are you kidding me? if user experience matters to you, then one plus really own its position, its snappy performance while keeping more background apps and even has some frequently used apps in RAM to give you a snappy experience! if u r a person who switches between calls and message app then the user experience is totally negligible. im saying this with confidence because i switched from Pixel 3xl to one plus 7Pro. Pixels are just waste of money at this point of time. may be with offers it would worth its price in festive seasons

7. inFla

Posts: 182; Member since: Aug 17, 2018

Is this a Beta or the final model?

9. Vancetastic

Posts: 1761; Member since: May 17, 2017

Wow, an article to annoy both Samsung AND Apple fanboys. I don't plan to get the Pixel 4 or XL, but this 3a I've got is one of my favorite phones ever. I look forward to more honest articles like this, and to the 4a.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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