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What to expect from Google’s Pixel 4 hardware event

What to expect from Google’s Pixel 4 hardware event


Pixel 4, a new Pixelbook, new Nest devices, and more

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Image: Google / @atn1988

Google’s annual fall hardware showcase is happening on Tuesday, October 15th, and we expect it to be a big one. The star of the show will almost certainly be the Pixel 4, with its second back camera packed into an iPhone 11-like camera square, face unlock tech that might rival Apple’s Face ID, and a motion-sensing radar that Google’s been quietly developing for years.

And that’s just what Google has already told us. The rumor mill suggests there’s way more to the Pixel 4, and we might also see a much faster Google Assistant, a more affordable Pixelbook, new-and-improved Pixel Buds, and additional devices.

The Verge will be on the ground in New York City during the event, with a live blog and news updates as they happen. But until then, here’s what to expect:

Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL

Leaked renders of the “oh so orange” and “clearly white” Pixel 4 XLs and the “just black” Pixel 4.
Leaked renders of the “oh so orange” and “clearly white” Pixel 4 XLs and the “just black” Pixel 4.
Renders: @evleaks

Frankly, there’s not much that’s secret about the Pixel 4. It’s perhaps the most-leaked phone ever. But here’s a short summary of what we think Google will show off on Tuesday.

The new Google flagships are expected to come in two sizes, like usual, have 90Hz variable refresh rate displays, and be outfitted in three colors (“just black,” “clearly white,” and “oh so orange”). The vaunted Pixel camera should get an upgrade with a second camera lens, which is expected to be a 16-megapixel telephoto lens as well as new camera tricks like an astrophotography mode to photograph the stars, a “Motion Mode” to take better action shots, and improvements to portrait mode and Night Sight.

Google might spend the most time on Tuesday discussing the sensors hidden in the top bezel of the Pixel — which, by the way, has no notch. There, you’ll find new face unlock technology that Google claims will be very fast, unlocking your phone without requiring an extra swipe. And in a likely shot at the iPhone’s Face ID, Google says it will work at just about any orientation. Hands-ons with Pixel 4 XLs in the wild seem to back up Google’s claims.

That top bezel also has Google’s years-in-development radar motion sensing tech called Soli, which will let you wave your hands over the device to do things like skip songs and silence phone calls. This is one thing that hasn’t seemed to work on leaked phones, so Google might be able to surprise us with it on Tuesday.

Leaks also indicate that the Pixel 4 will have an audio recorder that can automatically transcribe recordings, the ability to call emergency services if it detects you’ve been in a car crash, and a new Google Assistant, which we’ll talk about soon.

We might also see a 5G version of the Pixel 4, as Google has begun “test production” of a 5G smartphone, according to Nikkei. If it’s only in test production, though, it seems unlikely that it will come out in time for this holiday season. Indeed, Nikkei reports that Google may unveil the 5G model next spring.

If you want to know much more about the Pixel 4, including photos of it from every angle and perhaps its exact spec sheet, check out our huge post that’s tracking every credible Pixel 4 leak. There have been a lot of them.

Next-generation Google Assistant

Image: Nextrift

Google demoed what it called the “next generation Google Assistant” at its I/O conference in May, and it looked pretty impressive, moving smoothly from task to task:

Google says the next-generation Assistant is coming to “new Pixel phones later this year” (likely the Pixel 4), will run on-device, and can process requests up to 10 times faster than the old Assistant. If it’s as good as it’s hyped to be, we expect Google will spend a solid chunk of time on Assistant on Tuesday to show off more of what it can do. We’re also hoping that Google will discuss if and how the next-generation Assistant may work on its other devices.

There’s only been one hands-on leak of the new Assistant, which said it was apparently “noticeably quicker,” but we otherwise don’t have a sense of how good the new Assistant will be in the real world. There have been a lot more leaks of a new Assistant UI, which looks pretty slick, and you can see that in action on a YouTube playlist from XDA Developers:

Pixelbook Go

Image: 9to5Google

The original Pixelbook came out in 2017, but since its release, we haven’t been sure of Google’s future ambitions for its laptops. For a while, it even seemed as if there may never be another one — that is, until Google confirmed to The Verge earlier this year that new laptops were on the way. On Tuesday, we might finally see the first new Pixelbook laptop in two years, according to 9to5Google.

Apparently called the Pixelbook Go, it’s expected to have a 13.3-inch 16:9 touchscreen display offered in either Full HD or 4K resolutions. Unlike the 2-in-1 Pixelbook, though, the Pixelbook Go is expected to have a more traditional clamshell laptop form factor.

If you want a better idea of what the Pixelbook Go might look like, 9to5Google shared a lot of hands-on photos with what it claims is a prototype of the new laptop, revealing a coral-esque color and a ribbed texture on the bottom of the device:

Image: 9to5Google

The Pixelbook Go will also reportedly have two USB-C ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, also be available in a black color, and come in a variety of configurations, with Intel Core m3, i5, and i7 processors; 8GB or 16GB of RAM; and 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB of storage.

New Pixel Buds

Pixel Buds.
Pixel Buds.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

If you’ve been waiting for an update to Google’s fiddly Pixel Buds, we might see one at Tuesday’s event, according to 9to5Google. We don’t know much more about them right now, but a suspicious tweet from Android and Chrome chief Hiroshi Lockheimer might hint at what’s to come:

Other things we’re curious about with the new Pixel Buds: the first Buds were connected to each other by a wire, so perhaps Google will eliminate that to make them truly wireless, like Apple’s AirPods. The Verge’s Sean O’Kane had trouble consistently fitting the first Pixel Buds in his ears, so maybe Google will change the design so they sit more snugly. Because it’s Google, we’d expect any new earbuds from the company to have cool Assistant and Translation capabilities.

Google Nest Wifi

We might see a new version of Google’s mesh router system, according to 9to5Google. If the rumors are true, Google might use it as a way to get even more Assistant devices in your home.

Apparently renamed “Nest Wifi,” the new routers will work like Amazon’s Eero, with a main primary router that can connect to smaller beacons you can place around your house. But interestingly, those smaller Nest Wifi beacons will reportedly double as Google Assistant smart speakers to extend the reach of your voice commands at the same time it’s extending the reach of your Wi-Fi. If the beacons are anything like Eero’s beacons, they might be as easy to install as hanging one right off your wall outlet.

Plus, they may understand requests about your Nest Wifi network, so you could ask them to turn off the internet in the kitchen to keep everyone focused at the dinner table, for example. Also rumored: Nest Wifi may come in three different colors so you can match the routers to best fit your home.

Google Nest Mini

Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Speaking of mounting a Google Assistant smart speaker to your wall, Google may also have a Google Home Mini successor designed just for that, according to 9to5Google. The new model may also have a new name — the Nest Mini — as well as improved sound, a 3.5mm stereo jack, and new colors. It’s also rumored to be able to sense when you’re nearby and show you the volume of what’s currently playing when you’re close to it.