The Google Pixel 4 is just days away and it’s shaping up to be one of the best Android phones of the year. There’s a new dual-lens camera on the back, a fresh design, and a front-facing camera that’s capable of facial recognition and air gestures, and that’s just what official teasers from Google have revealed. It has been so widely leaked, that we have a good idea of not just exactly what the Pixel 4 will look like, but also the features it will offer and the spec sheet.
I can’t wait to get my hands on the Pixel 4, partly because the Pixel 3 has been one of the best phones I’ve ever owned, but that excitement is slightly tempered by previous Pixel releases. While I intend to plunge straight in, that’s partly because it’s my job and I have a bunch of backup phones sitting around if I should need them. It might be prudent for you to wait a few weeks before buying, especially if you’re planning on relying on your new Pixel 4 or 4 XL as your only phone. I’m confident the Pixel 4 will be an excellent smartphone, eventually, but there may well be problems out of the gate.
Supply and demand
One of the issues that marked the original Google Pixel release was that it proved quite difficult to get a hold of at first. The Pixel and the Pixel XL repeatedly went out of stock, leaving would-be buyers with a lengthy wait to get their new phone. While the new phones may have been more popular than Google expected, this seems to have been more of an issue with Google’s suppliers not being able to produce enough of them prior to release, and not able to produce in high enough volume to meet demand after.
The same thing happened again with the Pixel 2 XL with shipping time extending by weeks for certain color variants within hours of it going on sale. Google seems to have sorted out the supply issues with the Pixel 3, so we hopefully won’t see a repeat of limited stock levels shortly after release with the Pixel 4, but there are other reasons you might want to wait just a little longer before buying.
Every phone has some hitches once it gets into the hands of the general public, and these problems are usually fixed as swiftly as possible by a software patch of some kind, but occasionally they prove more serious. There were some frustrating Google Pixel problems right from the get-go, and many buyers suffered because the original Pixel had a habit of freezing up or restarting at random. It didn’t affect every phone, but it was widespread enough to be noteworthy. There’s even an issue with defective microphones, so much so that there’s an ongoing class-action lawsuit against Google.
Things were kicked up a notch with the second generation Pixel. A lot of the commonly reported Pixel 2 problems were very similar to issues that afflicted the original, but Google rolled out software fixes for most things fairly quickly. What really caused a fuss was the Pixel 2 XL screen. Many buyers and reviewers of the Pixel 2 XL felt that the color was off, there were widespread reports of a bluish tint, and some even complained of blotches and graininess. The issue may have been overblown, but tweaks in manufacturing and software updates did address it, and screens from later batches didn’t get the same criticism.
It may have been the best camera phone on release, and for quite some time after, but there were some nasty Pixel 3 problems, too, and they centered on that camera. For some people the camera app was sluggish, but far worse than that was a bug that saw people’s precious photos disappear. It was eventually resolved, but not before it caused some heartache. And it wasn’t the only reason that left some Pixel 3 buyers wishing they’d waited.
Google has traditionally priced the Pixel range quite high compared to other phones on the market with similar spec sheets. To compound the problem of that high pricing for early adopters, it offered a Pixel 3 discount of $200 less than two months after release. If you bought a handset at full price, especially if it was just a few days before the discount, then you would have been understandably upset.
We don’t know what the prices of the Pixel 4 range will be yet, so hopefully we won’t see a repeat of this issue, but if the prices seem high on release, I’d expect a discount to be announced fairly soon after.
Now, while these points can be applied to many other phones, and maybe even new tech products in general, the combination is enough for me to advise caution to any interested buyers. There’s a chance Google will nail everything this time around, and if you read our reviews we’ll be sure to tell you if that’s the case, but if you can hold off on upgrading for just a few weeks, it might be worth it.
Tune in and watch the Made By Google event on October 15 to see the official reveal. We’re expecting Google to unveil a Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, and maybe a Pixel 4 XL 5G, alongside a few other devices and lots of fresh software features and we’ll have all the news and analysis you need right here.