The Pixel 4 (and 4 XL) might only be six months old, but a lot has happened since then. Samsung revealed its new Galaxy S20 series, Motorola announced its first high-end phone in years, and the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro debuted. The Pixel 4 has also changed over the past few months — it has received several new software features, and the price has been cut.
So, the question is this: should you still buy the Pixel 4 in 2020? If you need a new smartphone, I think the answer for most folks is yes, but let’s go over the factors you should consider.
Hardware: Acceptable, but not amazing
Google’s Pixel phones have never been known for cutting-edge hardware, but the Pixel 4 and 4 XL are still plenty powerful enough for checking emails, playing games, and chatting with friends. Both models have a speedy Snapdragon 855 processor paired with 6GB RAM, large AMOLED screens with a smooth 90Hz refresh rate, and 64 or 128GB of internal storage.
The key difference between the Pixel 4 and most new flagship phones released in 2020 is the processor; the Pixel 4 uses 2019’s Snapdragon 855, while more recent devices (like the Galaxy S20 and OnePlus 8 series) use the newer Snapdragon 865 chip. The newer Snapdragon 865 includes 5G support, which the Pixel 4 lacks, but most carrier’s 5G networks aren’t very good right now anyway.
Unlike most 2020 flagship phones, the Pixel 4 doesn’t support 5G.
Of course, the hardware pitfalls that the Pixel 4 had at launch haven’t gone anywhere. The battery on the smaller Pixel 4 has been a point of contention, as it might not be large enough to get you through a whole day away from a charger — if you’re on your phone all day, get the Pixel 4 XL instead. Also, some might balk at the 64GB of storage the cheapest Pixel 4 comes with, especially when the Galaxy S20’s base model has twice the storage (as well as a microSD card slot, which the Pixel 4 lacks).
Software: Better than ever
The Pixel 4, like most Google-made phones before it, prides itself on its software experience. It runs the latest version of Android 10 with a few extra software features on top, like a super-fast Google Assistant, custom system themes, and ‘Motion Sense’ air gestures. The Pixel 4 also receives monthly security updates quicker and more reliably than any other Android phone (though previous Pixels also get them at the same time).
Google has also been improving the software experience further with occasional ‘Feature Drops,’ like the ones that released in December and March. Even though it’s not uncommon for phone manufacturers to deliver new software features outside of major Android releases (OnePlus and Samsung have been doing it for a while), it still makes the Pixel 4 an even better experience than it was at launch.
Price: A great deal
The Pixel 4 and 4 XL were undeniably a poor value at release, starting at $799 and $899, respectively. Even though the software experience was on-par with other Android flagships at the time (and has become better, as previously mentioned), it didn’t have as much RAM or storage as some other popular phones. However, it didn’t take long for the sales to start.
The Pixel 4 now starts at just $499, while the base Pixel 4 XL costs $599. That’s a fantastic deal for a phone with performance and features comparable to the latest Android smartphones, especially when most recent devices cost several hundred more dollars.
Even the high-end 128GB Pixel 4 XL, which costs $699, is $300 lower than the cheapest Galaxy S20. The cheapest OnePlus 8 (128GB storage, 8GB RAM) currently goes for $699, and it doesn’t have the IP68 water protection or wireless charging functionality of the Pixel 4.