It’s July, three months before we expect Google to fully unveil the Pixel 4. Like clockwork, the next scene in the phone rumor script has been performed: full 3D CAD renders of the upcoming phone. They come via Steve Hemmerstoffer — you know him as OnLeaks — who provided them to Pricebaba. Renders are generally not the most exciting kind of phone leak, especially after Google just tweeted out its own images, but there’s just a little extra information here: the dimensions of the Pixel 4 XL.
OnLeaks is reporting that the Pixel 4 XL will measure 160.4 x 75.2 x 8.2mm with a 6.25-inch display. By comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus measures 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm with a 6.4-inch display. Assuming these specs are correct, that means that the S10 Plus is smaller across all three dimensions, despite having a larger screen. And since we’re expecting them to have approximately the same aspect ratios, the explanation for that difference is clear: bezels.
I’ll leave it to others to calculate the precise screen-to-body ratio and the height of the top (“forehead”) and bottom (“chin”) bezels based on these renders, but suffice it to say that both will be larger than what’s on other recent Android phones like the S10 Plus, the OnePlus 7 Pro, and any number of others I could list here.
Those phones achieve those big screens sizes in (relatively) small bodies with clever (and expensive) manufacturing techniques and by finding a way to deal with the front-facing selfie camera. Some cut out the screen; others turn it into a pop-up camera from within the phone itself. The Pixel 4 isn’t going to go in for all that: it’s just going to unapologetically have a top bezel.
On the Pixel, the justification will likely be that it does some fancy things with all of that space: it gives you two selfie camera options, scans your face, and maybe even detects tiny hand gestures in space using Project Soli radar. There’s also likely to be another unspoken justification: you all hated the giant notch on the Pixel 3 XL so much, we just decided to make a bigger bezel instead. Besides, the Pixel line isn’t supposed to be about the most amazing hardware. It’s supposed to be about quality Google software.
Except a funny thing is happening with the Pixel line: the most hardcore Android users don’t seem to be as enamored of it as they once were. Some of that is the result of persistent RAM issues with the Pixel 3. Some of it is simply that it already feels like the Pixel 4 is a known quantity. Everybody’s expectation is in line with what you might guess: best-in-class cameras, meh hardware, good clean software, and hopefully no major issues. Months before the release, I’m already reading articles about how it’s disappointing. That’s wild!
All of this speculation is part of the leak culture, but it’s also important because Google raised the stakes on itself by tweeting out its own photo. Add in some extra early in-the-wild photos and a growing consensus that the hardware we’re seeing here doesn’t even match early 2019 flagship phones, and you get even higher stakes.
As Marques Brownlee captures in the above tweet, there’s a growing consensus that Google’s Pixel 4 needs to do something more than just be a “Made by Google” phone with good software and great cameras. Since it’s expected to be sold by most major carriers, this is the year Google needs to make the Pixel a genuine mass-market contender. But it looks like it’s also going to need to do something to shore up the Android base.