Pixel 4 Seeks To Reclaim Low-Light Photography Crown For Google

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Pixel 4

Google is pitching its Pixel 4 phones as being able to take the kind of astrophotography images that required specialist camera kit in the past.

They are also the first handsets to use a motion-sensing radar chip that switches off some functionality when the phone is left unattended, saving battery life.

Pixel is only the ninth bestselling phone brand in the UK, despite positive reviews for its last-generation models.

Google says it is playing a long game.

“Most people in the mobile-phone space… take more than a decade to grow to any significant scale. And so, we have that long-term view.”

One reason the Pixel 3 has been more successful in the US than elsewhere is that Huawei has been effectively excluded from the American market.

And with the Chinese company’s latest models unable to pre-install Google apps because of a trade ban, one market watcher said Pixel had a chance to make significant gains this time round.

“Operators and retailers in Europe are nervous about a return to there being just two dominant players – Samsung and Apple,” said Ben Wood, from CCS Insight.

Star gazing

The Pixel 4 and larger Pixel 4 XL seek to build on their predecessors’ widely praised Night Sight facility, after reviews suggested it had finally been surpassed by the iPhone 11 and Huawei Mate 30’s low-light capabilities.

First, Google says, its machine-learning algorithms have been improved to deliver better “colour balance”, to ensure skies and other parts of the scenery look more natural.

This should address the fact some critics felt the old software sometimes whitened warm sources of light too aggressively.

Secondly, a new Astrophotography mode allows the phone to capture “stars, planets and even galaxies” by automatically creating a composite of 15 long-exposure images, each lasting 15 seconds in duration. The whole process can take more than four minutes to complete.

Daylight shots also benefit from the introduction of a “dual exposure” feature. This allows owners to set a different exposure setting for the brightness and shadows via on-screen sliders, and preview the results in real-time.

the Google Nest Mini, a small smart speaker with an extra chip to process more commands within the device rather than via remote computer servers, which should speed up some tasks

revamped Pixel Buds earphones, which can connect to the new phones from a distance of up to “a football pitch” away but will not go on sale until next year

updated “premium” Chrome OS laptops that have lower prices than the models they replace and longer battery life