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The Pixel 4 (and 4 XL) might only be nine 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 are now widely available. The Pixel 4 has also changed over the past few months, with several new software features and price fluctuations.
So, the question is this: should you still buy the Pixel 4 in 2020? The answer a few months ago was "probably yes," but after a recent price hike, it's not the best choice for everyone.
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.
|Storage||64 or 128GB|
|Display||90Hz OLED, 5.7-inch 1080p or 6.3-inch 1440p|
|Battery||2800mAh or 3700mAh|
|Camera||12MP main, 16MP 2x telephoto; 8MP front|
|Measurements||147.1 x 68.8 x 8.2 mm and 162g; 160.4 x 75.1 x 8.2mm and 193g (XL)|
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.
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).
Unlike most 2020 flagship phones, the Pixel 4 doesn't support 5G.
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: Hard pass
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.
Google lowered prices on the Pixel 4 and 4 XL earlier this year to as low as $500, which was undeniably a good deal, but that discount seemingly ended sometime in May. Both phones have mostly been sold at their original prices since then, though the smaller Pixel 4 is currently $680 on Amazon.
Pixel 4 64GB price history on Amazon (source: Keepa)
Pixel 4 XL 64GB price history on Amazon (source: Keepa)
There's not much of a reason to choose the Pixel 4 and 4 XL over competing options at this point. The regular Galaxy S20 costs $1,000, but regularly goes on sale for $800-850. There's also the OnePlus 8 for $699 and the 8 Pro for $899, which both offer a similar software experience to what you would get from a Pixel phone (minus their tendency to limit background notifications).
Unless you absolutely need a Pixel phone, or you can snag a great deal on one, it's probably a better idea to buy a different phone or wait for the Pixel 5.