Google pixel worth it

Google Pixel 4, Pixel 3 or Pixel 3A: Should you upgrade?

Google’s Pixel 4 and 4 XL are here at last, after a mountain of leaks. But the choice isn’t quite as easy as “big” or “small” because Google’s new phones are expensive, at $799 and up — and because the excellent Pixel 3 and Pixel 3A are still sticking around for hundreds of dollars cheaper.

Here’s the full lineup as of today:

If your budget tops out at $500 or so, we’ve already covered the tradeoffs between the Pixel 3A and Pixel 3, including water resistance, wireless charging, a higher quality screen, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. We’ve also already compared the Pixel 4 to other flagship phones.

So let’s tackle this another way. What does the Pixel 4 offer (on paper) compared to any previous Pixel? What, if anything, do you give up? Scroll down to the phone you own and see — and if you don’t see enough differences to satisfy your upgrade itch, you’ll know it’s OK to wait.

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Pixel 3 and 3 XL

If you bought a flagship Pixel 3 just last year, it may be tough to justify another purchase so soon — but the Pixel 4 certainly has plenty of new toys for early adopters, including a bona fide miniature radar for air gestures, a genuine Face ID competitor for unlocking your phone without a fingerprint, a faster screen than ever before, and the second rear camera (with a telephoto lens) that Google always insisted it never needed.

What you get with Pixel 4

  • A second 16MP camera with a telephoto lens
  • Google’s seemingly speedy Face Unlock
  • 90Hz “Smooth Display” with Ambient EQ automatic color temperature
  • Built-in Soli radar sensor for air gestures in apps
  • “Pixel Neural Core” for faster Google Assistant and real-time audio transcription
  • Slightly faster processor
  • 2GB of additional memory
  • Dual exposure controls for the camera
  • Slightly wider f/1.7 aperture on main camera (vs. f/1.8)
  • Slightly larger screen on the standard Pixel 4 (5.7 inch vs. 5.5 inch)
  • Larger battery on the Pixel 4 XL (3700mAh vs. 3430mAh)
  • New “limited edition” orange color option
  • The new no-notch design with prominent metal band and camera square

What’s the same

  • Google’s excellent 12-megapixel camera (assuming nothing’s changed) with Night Sight
  • Screen size on the XL (6.3 inches)
  • HDR support
  • 64 and 128GB storage options
  • Dual stereo speakers
  • 18W fast charging
  • Wireless charging
  • Water resistance
  • Squeezable sides to summon the Google Assistant
  • Android 10
  • 4G LTE support on all major US carriers

What you lose

  • Fingerprint reader
  • Unlimited Google Photos uploads at original quality
  • The second portrait selfie camera
  • A tiny bit of space in your pocket (both phones are a tenth of an inch taller and slightly thicker)
  • Both phones are half an ounce heavier
  • The ability to brag that you only need a single camera instead of a square
  • The notched screen on the Pixel 3 XL

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Pixel 3A and 3A XL

Upgrading from the Pixel 3A and 3A XL is a more intriguing proposition. It came out just five months ago, but perhaps you were tempted by Google’s offer of getting one of Android’s best cameras for $399, liked what you saw, and see your Pixel 3A as a potential hand-me-down? Or perhaps you’re considering the 3A now, and want to see if the Pixel 4 is really worth double the money before you plunk cash down.

  • A second 16MP camera with a telephoto lens
  • Google’s seemingly speedy Face Unlock
  • 90Hz “Smooth Display” with Ambient EQ automatic color temperature
  • Built-in Soli radar sensor for air gestures in apps
  • “Pixel Neural Core” for faster Google Assistant and real-time audio transcription
  • Notably faster processor (Snapdragon 855 vs Snapdragon 670)
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
  • Wireless charging
  • Aluminum and glass body (instead of plastic)
  • Premium OLED screen with HDR support
  • 2GB of additional memory
  • Dual exposure controls for the camera
  • Slightly wider f/1.7 aperture on main camera (vs. f/1.8)
  • Larger screen on the Pixel 4 XL (6.3-inch vs. 6.0-inch)
  • Oh-so-slightly larger screen on the standard Pixel 4 (5.6 inch vs. 5.5 inch)
  • A bit of extra space in your pocket with standard Pixel 4 (two-tenths of an inch shorter and one-tenth narrower)
  • 128GB storage option
  • New “limited edition” orange color option
  • The new design with prominent metal band and camera square
  • Google’s excellent 12-megapixel camera (assuming nothing’s changed) with Night Sight
  • Dual stereo speakers
  • 18W fast charging
  • Squeezable sides to summon the Google Assistant
  • Android 10
  • 4G LTE support on all major US carriers
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Pixel 4 is half an ounce heavier, Pixel 4 XL an ounce heavier than their 3A-gen counterparts
  • Pixel 4 XL is very slightly thicker
  • Blue color option
  • The ability to brag that you only need a single camera instead of a square

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Pixel 2 and 2 XL

Now we’re in two-year upgrade territory, and the upgrades are more obvious — with the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, you no longer already possess one of Android’s best cameras nor a recent processor, there’s no headphone jack to tie you down, and the battery on your aging phone is probably feeling a little low. There’s also no simple way to buy the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL new. So let’s talk upgrades, shall we?

  • An upgraded 12MP main camera (assuming nothing’s changed since Pixel 3)
  • Slightly wider f/1.7 aperture on main camera (vs. f/1.8)
  • A second 16MP camera with a telephoto lens
  • Google’s seemingly speedy Face Unlock
  • 90Hz “Smooth Display” with Ambient EQ automatic color temperature
  • Built-in Soli radar sensor for air gestures in apps
  • “Pixel Neural Core” for faster Google Assistant and real-time audio transcription
  • Notably faster processor (Snapdragon 855 vs Snapdragon 835)
  • Much larger 5.7-inch screen for Pixel (vs 5.0-inch)
  • Larger 6.3-inch screen for Pixel XL (vs. 6.0-inch)
  • Slightly larger batteries (3700mAh vs. 3520mAh for XL, 2800mAh vs 2700mAh for Pixel)
  • Better IP68 dust and water resistance (vs IP67)
  • Wireless charging
  • Premium OLED screen with HDR support
  • 2GB of additional memory
  • Dual exposure controls for the camera
  • New “limited edition” orange color option
  • The new design with prominent metal band, camera square and full glass back
  • Google’s excellent 12-megapixel camera (assuming nothing’s changed) with Night Sight
  • Dual stereo speakers
  • 18W fast charging
  • Squeezable sides to summon the Google Assistant
  • Android 10
  • 4G LTE support on all major US carriers

  • Fingerprint reader
  • Unlimited Google Photos uploads at original quality
  • A tiny bit of space in your pocket (both phones are a tenth of an inch taller and slightly thicker this gen)
  • Both phones are 0.8 oz heavier than their Pixel 2-gen counterparts
  • Blue color option
  • The possibility of dropping your phone on a mostly-metal back instead of guaranteed glass

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Pixel and Pixel XL

If you’re still holding onto the three-year-old Pixel or Pixel XL, you’re probably starting to miss out. Yes, you’ve still got a headphone jack, you got the Night Sight camera upgrade, and you’ve probably upgraded to Android 10 by now — but hardware has marched forward, particularly that camera, and it may be time you did as well.

  • An notably upgraded 12MP main camera with optical image stabilization
  • Wider f/1.7 aperture on main camera (vs. f/2.0)
  • A second 16MP camera with a telephoto lens
  • Google’s seemingly speedy Face Unlock
  • 90Hz “Smooth Display” with Ambient EQ automatic color temperature
  • Built-in Soli radar sensor for air gestures in apps
  • “Pixel Neural Core” for faster Google Assistant and real-time audio transcription
  • Much faster processor (Snapdragon 855 vs Snapdragon 821)
  • Much larger screens (5.7-inch vs. 5.0 inch for regular, 6.3-inch vs. 5.5-inch for XL)
  • Slightly larger 3700mAh battery on Pixel 4 XL (vs. 3450mAh)
  • Much better IP68 dust and water resistance (vs. IP53)
  • Wireless charging
  • Dual stereo speakers (up from just one)
  • Premium OLED screen with HDR support
  • 2GB of additional memory
  • Double the base storage at 64GB
  • Dual exposure controls for the camera
  • Squeezeable sides to summon the Google Assistant
  • Pixel Visual Core and hardware security module
  • New “limited edition” orange color option
  • The new design with camera square and full glass back
  • 18W fast charging
  • Night Sight camera mode
  • Battery size (on regular Pixel)
  • Android 10
  • 4G LTE support on all major US carriers
  • Fingerprint reader
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Unlimited Google Photos uploads at original quality
  • A tiny bit of space in your pocket (Pixel 4 is a tenth of an inch taller, Pixel 4 XL is two-tenths)
  • Both phones are about 0.8 oz heavier than their Pixel 2-gen counterparts
  • Blue color option
  • The possibility of dropping your phone on a mostly-metal back instead of guaranteed glass

Every Pixel’s specs compared

Specification Pixel 4 Pixel 3 Pixel 3a Pixel 2 Pixel Pixel 4 XL Pixel 3 XL Pixel 3a XL Pixel 2 XL Pixel XL
Specification Pixel 4 Pixel 3 Pixel 3a Pixel 2 Pixel Pixel 4 XL Pixel 3 XL Pixel 3a XL Pixel 2 XL Pixel XL
Display 5.7 inches, 90Hz 5.5 inches 5.6 inches 5.0 inches 5.0 inches 6.3 inches, 90Hz 6.3 inches 6.0 inches 6.0 inches 5.5 inches
Resolution FHD+ (2280 x 1080?) 2160 x 1080 2280 x 1080 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 QHD+ (3060 x 1440?) 2960 x 1440 2160 x 1080 2880 x 1440 2560 x 1440
Pixel Density 444 ppi 443 ppi 441 ppi 441 ppi 441 ppi 537 ppi 523 ppi 402 ppi 538 ppi 534 ppi
Processor Snapdragon 855 Snapdragon 845 Snapdragon 670 Snapdragon 835 Snapdragon 821 Snapdragon 855 Snapdragon 845 Snapdragon 670 Snapdragon 835 Snapdragon 821
RAM 6GB 4GB 4GB 4GB 4GB 6GB 4GB 4GB 4GB 4GB
Storage 64GB, 128GB 64GB, 128GB 64GB 64GB, 128GB 32GB, 128GB 64GB, 128GB 64GB, 128GB 64GB 64GB, 128GB 32GB, 128GB
Rear camera 12MP, 16MP tele 12MP 12MP 12MP 12MP 12MP + 16MP tele 12MP 12MP 12MP 12MP
Front camera 8MP 8MP, 8MP (wide) 8MP 8MP 8MP 8MP 8MP, 8MP (wide) 8MP 8MP 8MP
Battery 2,800mAh 2,915mAh 3,000mAh 2,700mAh 2,770mAh 3,700mAh 3,430mAh 3,700mAh 3,520mAh 3,450mAh
Biometrics Face Unlock Fingerprint Fingerprint Fingerprint Fingerprint Face Unlock Fingerprint Fingerprint Fingerprint Fingerprint
Water protection IPX8 IPX8 No IPX7 IPX3 (barely any) IPX8 IPX8 No IPX7 IPX3 (barely any)
Wireless charging? Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes No No No
Fast charging 18W 18W 18W 18W 18W 18W 18W 18W 18W 18W
Ports USB-C USB-C USB-C, 3.5mm USB-C USB-C, 3.5mm USB-C USB-C USB-C, 3.5mm USB-C USB-C, 3.5mm
Daydream VR No Yes No Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes
Weight (lbs) 0.36 0.33 0.32 0.31 0.31 0.43 0.40 0.36 0.38 0.37
Dimensions (in.) 5.79 x 2.7 x 0.32 5.70 x 2.70 x 0.30 6.0 x 2.8 x 0.30 5.7 x 2.7 x 0.30 5.7 x 2.7 x 0.34 6.31 x 2.96 x 0.32 6.20 x 3.00 x 0.30 6.3 x 3.0 x 0.30 6.2 x 3.0 x 0.30 6.1 x 3.0 x 0.34
Starting price $799 $799 $399 $649 $649 $899 $899 $479 $849 $769

Update, October 16th at 5:15PM ET: Added the Pixel Neural Core which enables real-time audio transcription. It’s possible it’s a rebranded Pixel Visual Core, since it replaces that core and similarly does machine learning, but Google does say the real-time transcription feature it enables is exclusive to Pixel 4.

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Google Pixel 4 XL one month later: Is it worth $699?

Reviews of Google’s Pixel 4 series weren’t all that hot thanks to bad battery life and uncompetitive pricing. Now, a month later, we’ve had a chance to use the Pixel 4 XL for an extended period of time and we can better share our experience with the device and answer an important question – is the Pixel 4 XL worth its Black Friday price?

A month later, how has the Pixel 4 XL fared?

I’ve been using Google’s Pixel 4 XL for just about a month at this point and so far, I think it might be my favorite Pixel to date. Why?

First and foremost there’s the performance. In day to day use the Pixel 4 XL feels faster and consistently more stable than my Pixel 3 ever felt. This includes the camera which, on the Pixel 3, had a ton of issues ranging from lag to not actually saving photos. That’s not a problem I’ve experienced even once on the 4 XL and the speed of taking shots is still snappy too. The experience basically still feels the same as I described in my full review.

The upgrade to a Snapdragon 855 and 6GB of RAM from the Pixel 3 has made a dramatic difference in terms of performance.

It’s hard to put into words just how fast this phone is, but even after using technically more powerful phones from OnePlus and Samsung, I can still say that I think the Pixel 4 is the fastest Android smartphone I’ve ever used and I feel there’s not much more that needs to be said.

Beyond the performance, the software is getting better too. Google recently rolled out an update that makes the 90Hz refresh rate kick in far more often and also fixing some minor issues with the camera too. It’s taking some time, but apps are also slowly being updated with support for Pixel’s new face unlock too. LastPass, for instance, added support not long ago. Now PayPal, please…

So far, the Pixel 4 XL feels off to a better start than the Pixel 3 before it. By the end, those phones felt faster and had fixed many of their major flaws. Pixel 4 doesn’t have nearly as far to go to fix its handful of issues.

Is it worth $699?

The Pixel 4 XL has always been the better of the two phones Google’s released this year largely thanks to its better battery life. A month later, that holds up. While using the smaller Pixel 4, my usage would kill the device by 7 pm every single night. With the larger model, I’m consistently making it through a full day with around 10-15% remaining at the end of the day. This mirrors what Damien experienced when he reviewed the Pixel 4 XL a month ago.

What about the rest of the package? The Pixel 4 XL was largely criticized because of its value. The phone isn’t as spec-heavy as other Android flagships with limited storage options and less RAM too. On top of that, the cameras, while excellent, lack the popular ultra-wide lens and video options like 4K at 60fps.

At $899 and up, it’s admittedly pretty hard to recommend a Pixel 4 XL if factors like those are at all important, but that price also puts Google’s phone under a lot more scrutiny.

However, at $699, much of that becomes a lot more forgivable. $699 is well below the cost of competing smartphones like the Galaxy Note 10 and iPhone 11 Pro. Unless you absolutely need those features, the Pixel’s savings of $300 or more is simply compelling. Of course, there’s the still-cheaper OnePlus 7T, but fewer buying options and other concerns may rule that device out for many people.

It may sound like a cliche, but there’s something about the Pixel experience that makes Google’s smartphones compelling. As I stated in my review:

Right now, it’s hard for me to say that there’s a better Android phone than the Pixel 4 when it comes to the daily software experience of actually using it.

I’ll be moving over to the Pixel 4 XL for its better battery life just because I value this experience over what other devices offer. Sure, the resale value next year is going to hurt, but if you’re buying a phone to use for a long time – which most people are – and want the best Android experience you can get, you shouldn’t look any further than the Pixel 4 series.

Pixel 4 Black Friday Pricing

For Black Friday, Google is offering a full $200 off all Pixel 4 models. Starting at $599, the entire series becomes a whole lot more compelling. I’ve already recommended a couple of my friends who were interested to go ahead and take advantage of the deal and you should too. For $599 or $699, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are some really great smartphones.

If you’re interested in getting a Pixel 4 with the Black Friday pricing, you can purchase from the Google Store, Amazon, B&H Photo, and other retailers. For all the best deals on Black Friday, keep it locked to our colleagues at 9to5Toys which provide the best coverage you’ll find.

More on Google Pixel 4:

  • Google Pixel 4 Review: A truly stellar Android experience… while it lasts
  • Pixel 4 vs. iPhone 11: Which should you pick?
  • Pixel 4 XL Review: Google’s best phone still isn’t ready for everyone

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Check out 9to5Google on YouTube for more news:

Google is the brand behind Android, the most widespread smartphone operating system in the world, but this software giant took its sweet time in actually designing, building, and selling an actual mobile bearing the Google name. When it finally arrived, though, it was very much worth the wait: The Google Pixel and Pixel XL launched about six years ago, and since their initial 2013 rollout, the Pixel lineup has grown to offer some of the best Android flagships — which are also often seen among the best smartphone deals — that money can buy today.

Google has refreshed its Pixel devices frequently during that time, too, releasing new models on an almost yearly basis to keep up with other big tech brands like LG and Samsung. Google went on to expand the lineup even further last year when it launched the budget-friendly Pixel 3a and 3a XL as high-value flagship alternatives. We sadly didn’t get to see the Pixel Watch last year, though, something that would have finally added a smart wearable to the Google stable (and one that may prove to be the first Android smartwatch to give the Apple Watch some worthy competition).

Late last year, Google revealed its newest flagships, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, at its fall Pixel event in October; following that release, now is as good a time as any to start looking for price cuts on these excellent Android mobiles. If you’re on the hunt for what is arguably the top Android smartphone out there right out, then keep reading. We’ve hunted down the best Google Pixel deals and put them together for you right here:

Today’s Best Google Pixel Deals

Google Pixel 3a 64GB (Sprint or Verizon)

$100 off plus $100 e-gift card with activation

Expires soon This is a great chance to score the awesome Google Pixel 3a, Google’s flagship alternative, at a nice discount with a free $100 bonus gift card when you activate with Sprint or Verizon.

Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL

Save up to $950 with qualified activation

Expires soon Best Buy is offering $100 to $950 off the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL with activation, a fine chance to save big on Google’s latest flagship. If you buy unlocked, you can also get a $200 e-gift card.

Google Pixel 3a XL (64GB)

$100 off plus $100 e-gift card with activation

Expires soon The Pixel 3a XL is the larger model of Google’s mid-range smartphone with a 6-inch Full HD display and class-leading camera. Our reviewer was “consistently impressed with how well it performed.”

Google Pixel 4 XL 64GB (Sprint)

Save $449

Expires soon If you’re OK with Sprint, then this carrier offer is hard to beat. You can score the Google Pixel 4 XL (64GB) for less when you sign up and activate with an 18-month Sprint Flex Lease.

Google Pixel 3 Cell Phone with 64GB Memory (Unlocked)

$440 $799 Expires soon Get the Google Pixel 3 smartphone with a huge discount from Amazon and have the purest Android experience. Add in long-life battery and fantastic photos, and this is deal is a winner.

Google Pixel 2 XL (Unlocked, 128GB, Renewed)

$180 $200 Expires soon This 128GB Google Pixel 2 XL is professionally refurbished by Amazon, works and looks like new, and is backed by a 90-day warranty.

Google Pixel 4 (Unlocked, 64GB)

$630 $799 Expires soon Google’s new Pixel 4 is a solid and well-executed phone, even if it’s not quite the upgrade we were hoping for. If you want one of the best Android flagships for 2019, though, this is it.

Google Pixel XL (Unlocked, 128GB, Renewed)

$83 Expires soon The first-gen Pixel XL isn’t a bad choice for a dirt cheap Android smartphone. This renewed device works and looks like new and is backed by a 90-day warranty from Amazon.

Google Pixel 3 Verizon 64GB Black

$440 $800 Expires soon Given that Google is behind the Android operating system, it’s no surprise that the Pixel 3 offers what might be the best out-of-the-box Android experience on the market.

Google Pixel 4XL (64GB)

$779 $899 Expires soon If you feel like sizing up, Amazon has the new Google Pixel 4 XL complete with a vibrant 6.3-inch OLED touchscreen. It’s carrier-unlocked, too, so you can bring it to your favorite service provider.

Google Pixel 3a XL 64GB (Unlocked)

$428 $479 Expires soon The plus-sized version of Google’s excellent Pixel 3a (a mid-range alternative to the pricier Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 flagships), on sale for less than the standard-sized model.

Google Pixel 3a (64GB, unlocked)

$334 $399 Expires soon If you like the price point of the Google Pixel 3a but prefer to go unlocked, then this deal lets you score a discounted Pixel 3a that you can take to any of the major carriers of your choice.

Google Pixel 2 (Unlocked, 128GB, Renewed)

$160 $198 Expires soon The best way to save on earlier flagship devices is by buying refurbished, and this Amazon-renewed 128GB Pixel 2 works and looks like new (and it’s even backed by a 90-day warranty).

Google Pixel 4

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL recently dropped in October and are now available from most smartphone retailers. Our review team had great things to say about its quick performance, superb OLED display, and solid camera module (despite the notable lack of a wide-angle lens, something that will hopefully be corrected with the Pixel 5), but the Pixel 4 didn’t reinvent the wheel. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but given that the Pixel 4 — while certainly a great phone — isn’t quite the upgrade we wanted, you’ll have to choose for yourself if buying a new one at launch price is worth it. The Pixel 3 is simply a better bang for the buck at the moment if you’re buying an unlocked device to bring to your own service provider.

If you have to have the latest Android flagship, though, then you can do much, much worse than the Pixel 4, although the best way to get a deal on one right now is probably through carrier trade-in discounts and sign-up offers for new customers. Nonetheless, we’ll keep our list updated with the latest unlocked Google Pixel 4 deals that pop up, and there’s no denying that if you’re going to score a discount on one, it’s going to be during the bigger seasonal sales.

Google Pixel 3

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The third-generation Pixel smartphones were released last fall and quickly earned a top spot among our favorite Android mobiles. In fact, the Google Pixel 3 and its larger sibling, the Pixel 3XL, are in the running for the best Androids of 2018 overall owing to their vibrant touchscreens, snappy hardware performance, and super-slick software interface — after all, if the Android operating system is your tool of choice, then it’s not likely to get much better than a device from the company who wrote the book on that mobile OS in the first place.

The Google Pixel 3 wasn’t a bad deal for a premium phone even at its original price, but you can naturally find them for even cheaper now, making this one perhaps the best value to be found in an Android flagship right now. If you don’t plan on shelling out the extra cash for the Pixel 4 but still want something that’s quite recent (a 2018 model can hardly be considered “old”), then the Pixel 3 offers a ton of bang for your buck.

Google Pixel 3a

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

In May of 2019, Google added the first non-flagship Pixel devices to its smartphone lineup. The Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL were introduced as cheaper alternatives to the pricier flagship models, following the growing popularity of midrange phones (like Motorola’s Moto G series, to name one popular example) that offer much of the performance of premium phones with pared-down hardware and a much smaller price tag. The gamble paid off, and the Pixel 3a and 3a XL proved to be two of the best values to be found in an Android smartphone if you’re not fussy about premium touches like all-metal construction.

The Pixel 4 was just released, but we don’t yet know if Google will also be revealing an updated refresh of the Pixel 3a devices next spring. It’ll probably happen, although we’re obviously not expecting it this early (the Pixel 3a isn’t even one year old yet), and we’d be remiss if we didn’t include some Pixel 3a and 3a XL deals for you in the mean time.

Google Pixel and Pixel 2

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Google isn’t a huge hardware manufacturer, so its first- and second-gen Pixel mobiles don’t get as much long-term support as other flagships like older iPhones do (to name just one example of many). What this means for deal-hunters is that unless you’re willing to buy a refurbished unit, you’ll likely have to sniff around a little bit to find a brand new Pixel or Pixel 2 still available online — but they are floating around here and there. Another good bit of news is that these older Pixel devices can be fully updated to run Android 10, so you’re not stuck with dated software.

Nonetheless, those early-generation Pixels are still quite good — if not a little bit long in the tooth today — especially if you’re the type of techie who likes to buy somewhat older high-end stuff at a mere fraction of its original price, saving hundreds. A premium flagship phone from 2016 or 2017 will still be a very solid phone in 2020, and since you can find professionally refurbished Google Pixel and Pixel 2 phones for around $100 to $200 depending on specs, you might be better off grabbing one of these instead of a Pixel 3a (or another newer budget phones) if you’re after a truly dirt-cheap Android.

Looking for more great stuff? Find tech discounts and much more on our curated deals page.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.

Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Best smartphone deals for February 2020: iPhone, Samsung, and Google Pixel
  • Amazon discounts these Google Pixel smartphones by up to $358
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  • Amazon cuts up to $356 off the Google Pixel 3, 3a, and 4 smartphones

The Pixel XL is tempting but not worth buying in 2019

The Google Pixel 3 XL is an enticing phone. It’s one of our favorites here at Android Central. But not everyone is going to spend that kind of money, and so it’s a perfectly reasonable question of whether the original Pixel XL is still worth a buy in 2019 at a fraction of the price. After all, you can find them refurbished online for about $200. However, come 2019, it’s not a great choice even at that price.

The original Pixel still feels modern in many respects, but lacking update support really hurts its value.

There’s no denying that the original Pixel XL is still a solid phone. The screen is pretty good, the hardware absolutely holds up to the test of time, and its battery life and features are great by the standard of the phones in its current price bracket. The camera is also probably the best you can buy for $200. But as we move through 2019, the Pixel XL is nearing its software sunset. Android 9 Pie is the final major software update for the first Pixels, and after October 2019 they will no longer be guaranteed to receive security patches.

Even if the Pixel’s hardware and specs may hold up to phones in similar price ranges today, getting regular software updates is one of the best features of a Pixel. When you miss out on that benefit, it takes away a large portion of the appeal. The phone will continue to work, but it won’t receive any features or fixes from the moment you take it out of the box.

The Pixel XL is still a very good phone as a standalone device, and some may still find it a good value for about $200. However, our recommendation for anyone who wants a Pixel for less money than the latest Pixel 3 XL is to buy the mid-range Pixel 3a or 3a XL instead. The Pixel 3a and 3a XL have a guaranteed update path, a better camera and hardware that’s plenty capable. It’s worth the extra money to get a modern phone over a three-year-old one.

Google has revealed its latest smartphone, the Google Pixel 4 which allows you to silence calls, skip songs and even quieten an alarm simply by waving your hand over the smartphone.

The Pixel 4 comes in two different sizes, there’s a smaller 5.7in device and the larger 6.3in Google Pixel 4 XL, and has been redesigned so the rear cameras sit in a square module to the left hand side on the back of the phone. The fingerprint sensor has also been removed in favour of facial recognition. This means the smartphone can have a screen that’s as big as possible without increasing the overall size of the handset, making it too cumbersome to hold.

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As well as being able to use gestures to control the phone, Google Assistant has also been improved. If you search for an Instagram page of a celebrity, it will even open the page in the relevant app rather than just providing you with a web link, or ask for concert tickets and it’ll find the artist on ticket master. It can even multi-task so once you’ve found what you’re looking for, you can quickly share with a friend just by asking Google Assistant. Google says the OLED screens on the Pixel 4 has a super-fast refresh rate which will result in an extremely smooth experience when using the handset.

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Google Pixel 4 on EE

Pixel 4: Cameras that make you feel professional

Both phones benefit from two rear cameras; a 12MP wide angle lens and a 16MP 2x telephoto lens. Google claims these cameras, combined with some handy software, will turn your photos into ones friends and family think have been shot by a professional photographer.

As well as being able to adjust the exposure and shadows in a photo you’re composing before you take it, the phone also uses artificial intelligence to improve white balance in your shots too. So rather than giving snow a blue-tinge that’s caused by the reflection from a blue sky, it’ll tweak the colour to look more realistic.

Google has also improved portrait mode, where the background is blurred and the subject is in focus, so you can now take great pictures of those standing further away from the camera and inanimate objects such as cars.

The best bit? Google claims you’ll be able to use the phone for astro photography and take clear shots of the sky at night – although you will need the help of a tripod for this.

And, you’ll still you get unlimited online storage for all the photos shot on the phone in Google Photos.

Built-in apps

We were impressed by the demo of the Recorder app that comes built-in to Pixel 4 too. It transcribes speech in real-time without needing internet access and lets you search recordings for specific words and phrases giving you the exact point in the recording they can be found.

Related Story

Pixel 4 Price and Release Date

The Google Pixel 4 is priced at £699, while the Google Pixel 4 XL costs £829. Both smartphones will be available to buy on October 24.

Other Google launches

At the same time, Google also unveiled a new version of its smallest smart speaker, which has been renamed the Google Nest Mini.

Google says its most affordable smart speaker sounds better with bass that’s twice as powerful than its predecessor. It also unveiled a new version of Google Wifi, it’s whole home wi-fi system that comes with Google Assistant built-in and the Google Pixelbook Go, a more affordable version of the Pixelbook which was launched in 2017.

Google

Our verdict

If the cameras on these Google smartphones really are as good as the company claims, they’ll be a must-have for anyone that loves taking photos.

They’re stuffed full of handy features such as facial recognition and motion detectors that puts them a cut above previous Google Pixel phones too.

But while they’re cheaper than other flagship smartphones on the market, they still don’t come cheap. The Google Pixel 4 is worth investing in if you love taking photos at night or want a voice assistant that’s great at multi-tasking.

But it’ll be hard to justify the cost if you plumped for a Google Pixel 3 last year, or don’t get as much joy from taking excellent photos. We’re looking forward to putting the smartphone through its paces very soon.

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Google’s first homegrown smartphones, the Pixel and Pixel XL, were announced last month, and were seen by many as the company’s initial attempt to directly take on the likes of Apple in the premium handset market.

Quartz spent the last few weeks with the Pixel XL, the larger of Google’s two smartphones, testing to see if it could really hold a candle to the current crop of (non-exploding) top-tier smartphones. Here’s what we found:

What’s good

The camera. The Pixel’s camera was given the highest-ever rating of any smartphone by DxOMark, an industry-trusted camera testing site. And it’s easy to see why: the camera takes beautiful, sharp photos.

It works well in low light, picks up variations in color beautifully, and is apparently packing some intense computational photography abilities originally developed by Alphabet’s “moonshot” lab, X. The built-in algorithms reportedly enable the phone to enhance images in ways not possible with traditional photography hardware and software.

The camera also has all of the regular nifty Android camera features, such as panoramic photos, 360-degree photos (called “Photo Spheres”), and “lens blur” shots, which produce a similar effect to the iPhone 7 Plus’s new “portrait mode.”

While the iPhone 7 and Samsung’s Galaxy S7s may produce marginally different (and not necessarily better) shots in most situations—iPhone photos tend to come out warmer than Google’s phone, for example—the camera really is out of the standout reasons to buy a Pixel.

Video image stabilization. When I first shot a video on the Pixel, I thought the phone had frozen, as the image in front of me was so still. The Pixel does an amazing job of digitally stabilizing what you’re shooting, meaning even those with the unsteadiest hands should be able to produce some really smooth videos:

While the Pixel isn’t the only phone that has made it easy to shoot great video—the iPhone 7 is no slouch either—I found the Google phone’s ability to smooth out even the smallest jerks really excellent. However, it’s worth noting that if you are moving quickly through areas with changing light conditions, the Pixel struggles to maintain an even white balance.

Endless space. One of the phone’s biggest selling points is that every owner gets unlimited Google cloud storage, so they can keep all their photos and videos at full resolution. That means whatever you shoot on the Pixel can be immediately offloaded to the cloud, freeing up space on the phone.

Super-fast charging. Like many modern Android phones, the Pixel can charge a significant chunk of its battery in minutes. Google’s marketing material says that it can charge about 7 hours’ worth of battery life in about 15 minutes. (I didn’t find that it always charged quite that rapidly in testing, however.)

Get Android updates before anyone else. The Pixel is the only Android phone available right now running 7.1—older Nexus devices might be getting it soon—but Google has said that it plans to make the newest Android operating systems available to Pixel owners before pushing it to other manufacturers’ devices.

It has solitaire. Google Assistant may still leave something to be desired (more on that below), but its ability to call up some fun ways to distract yourself—like Solitaire and other games—is an emotional balm, especially after you just spent minutes trying to get the phone to understand what you were asking it for.

Google The “Really Blue” version of the Pixel definitely stands out.

What’s not so good

The design. Overall, the design of the Pixel is fine. It’s not spectacular (it’s pretty hard to stand out when every phone is now the same basic rectangle of glass, plastic, and metal), but it looks about as nice as any HTC phone in recent years—which is unsurprising, given that HTC built the phone for Google. It feels improperly weighted when you’re holding it, and I’m not a massive fan of the chamfered edges, but these aren’t particularly big issues. There are parts of the design, however, that don’t make a lot of sense to me, including:

No home button. With the screen off, the Pixel looks a lot like an iPhone, because the bezels are about the same thickness on every edge on both devices. But on the iPhone, the bezel on the bottom is designed to support the home button on, near where your thumb naturally rests when you hold the phone in your hand; the Pixel, on the other hand, does not have a home button on the bottom edge, or anywhere on the front of the phone. Which gets to another problem:

No easy way to wake it up. On the newer iPhones, you just pick up the phone to wake up the screen; on newer Androids like the OnePlus 3 or the LG V20, you tap the screen twice; and on pretty much every phone, you can press the home button. On the Pixel, you need to press the power button on the side, which just feels little awkward, especially if you want to turn on the phone when it’s sitting on the table in front of you.

Weird fingerprint scanner placement. The scanner is on the back of the device, near the top. It’s a bit of a stretch for my (possibly stubby) fingers when I’m holding the device in one hand, and a rather awkward placement when trying to pay for something using Android Pay, given that you need to tap the phone against the NFC reader, but most of the phone is being covered by your hand as you try to authenticate your fingerprint.

Google Assistant. There’s nothing particularly wrong with Assistant—it works pretty much as you’d expect, answering questions dutifully, and it’s able to understand context, meaning you’re generally able to ask it follow-up questions without having to restate what you’re talking about (For example: “What’s the weather going to be like today?…How about tomorrow?”). But considering Google puts Assistant at the forefront of all its Pixel marketing, you’d expect it to be more than a marginal improvement on Apple’s Siri. But it’s really not. And really, in most normal situations, pulling out your phone to ask it basic questions is more awkward than just quietly Googling the answers yourself.

The camera app opens too easily. By default, there’s a setting turned on where if you quickly press the power button twice, the phone will open the camera app. This is great if you want to snap a photo as quickly as possible, but not so great when the phone is bouncing around in a pocket or a bag and the button is accidentally pushed, and you end up with a bunch of black photos of the inside of your jeans.

Headphone jack is on the top. Most manufactures put the headphone jack on the bottom of their phones, so that when you pull them out of your pocket, your phone is the right way up: With the Pixel, the phone will come out of your pocket upside-down. Then again, at least it has a headphone jack.

Not waterproof. Given that many are calling the Pixel the first Google phone that can stand up to the iPhone, perhaps it should have the same basic features as it—or Samsung’s top-tier phones.

The price. Google’s previous line of self-branded smartphones, Nexus, was relatively affordable. They tended to have just about as many features as flagship phones from other manufacturers, but generally cost about half as much. The Google Pixel, however, starts at $649, and the Pixel XL starts at $769, comparable to the newest iPhones and Samsung’s (non-exploding) Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. If the Pixel cost the same as its Nexus elders, this phone would be a no-brainer. But at the price, it’s hard to recommend it over the Galaxies or the new iPhones.

Should you get one?

If you want the newest features that Android has to offer before any other phone manufacturer is going to get them, this is the phone for you.

For everyone else, while many of the negatives I’ve laid out are minor issues, they add up to a lot of small inconveniences that make the Pixel relatively annoying to use. Google’s old Nexus line of smartphones were meant to be the hardware that best showed off what Android can do. But the Pixel doesn’t seem to accomplish that goal; Samsung’s newest phones (apart from the ones that spontaneously combust) feel like a better melding of hardware and Android software. Perhaps Google’s new Assistant will be utilized better in the new Home smart hub (review forthcoming),

Google is positioning the Pixel as a direct rival to the new iPhones, and while they both come with their own annoyances, it’s difficult to recommend to any loyal iPhone user that this is the phone worth jumping the Apple ship for. Everything is perfectly adequate, but the build quality doesn’t feel quite as sturdy as Apple’s, and the camera, responsiveness, and design of the Galaxy S7 make them a slightly stronger choice for Android users. Unless you really, really want to have a deep conversation with your smartphone, you might want to consider another option.