One Google Pixel 4 feature will make or break it for me: Battery life

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Three generations of Pixels have had subpar battery life, and I’m done giving Google a pass.

I’ve been using my Pixel 3 XL for months. Bouncing around between the latest phones, as we all do here, I’ve regularly landed back on the Pixel 3 XL as my "go-to" phone. Of all my phones, it’s the one that I best keep up to date and ready to go at any time. I love its hardware, the amazing photos it takes, and the clean Google software experience. But I just can’t stand its weak, inconsistent battery life — it’s undeniably the phone’s biggest weakness, and regularly makes me switch back to other phones. And this is already a compromise because I would prefer the Pixel 3 for its size, but the battery is even worse.

This is the third generation of Pixels, and the third time I’ve been greatly disappointed in the battery life.

This is the third generation of Pixels, and the third time I’ve been greatly disappointed in the phone’s battery life. At launch, each Pixel has had fine battery life. Good enough to get the job done, but definitely not a strong suit. In my experience, every Pixel’s battery life steadily deteriorates from that already-frail starting point a few months after regular use. Standard or XL, it doesn’t matter — Pixels regularly have the weakest battery life of all the phones I use, despite generally having decently sized batteries.

Google either doesn’t put enough focus on battery life, or has horrible execution; whatever the case, the result is the same, and I’m fed up with it. The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL have to have at least industry-average battery life for their size, or it’s a deal-breaker for me using one on a daily basis. After being burned by Pixel battery life for three generations, I’m not willing to give the Pixel 4, and 4 XL in particular, a pass — or even the benefit of the doubt before launch. Google’s given me zero indication that it can ship phones with battery life befitting the phone’s size, price, and capabilities. Coincidentally it’s only Google’s mid-range Pixel 3a that has roughly average battery life, and the larger 3a XL is even stronger in that regard.

Android phones with the best battery life

There are tons of rumored Pixel 4 improvements I’m excited about, but all I want to know is if battery life is better.

It’s a terrible situation because there are a whole lot of things in the Pixel 4 I’m excited about. A new multi-camera system is enticing. I’m excited to use a better screen. More RAM? Count me in. But my goodness, Google must do something about battery life in the Pixel 4, or I’m going to have a tough time using a phone that I would otherwise enjoy for so many reasons. I’m willing to compromise on many things if I fall in love with other aspects of a phone, but I consider just "average" battery life on a high-end phone such as a Pixel 4 XL to be a compromise as it is.

Samsung’s comparably-sized Galaxy S10e and Galaxy S10+ have much better, and more consistent, battery life. The Huawei P30 Pro and OnePlus 7 Pro blow away the Pixel 3 XL in longevity. I can’t think of other phones or other manufacturers that have such consistently weak battery life year after year and get a pass in the same way that the Pixels have. And even though the Pixels do have so many redeeming qualities that are in many people’s eyes worthy of giving their battery life a pass for, I can’t count myself among them anymore. I sure hope Google can address this longstanding problem, because I want nothing more than to see this trend, and talking point, come to an end.

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July 24, 2019 at 07:00AM