back to article Hands off our phones, says Google: Radar-gesture-sensing Pixel 4 just $999 with a 3-year lifespan – great value!

At a press event in New York City on Tuesday, Google announced its Pixel 4 phone, revised Pixel Bud earphones, its Pixelbook Go laptop, a revision and rebranding of its Wi-Fi mesh router as a Nest product, and a tweaked Nest Mini smart speaker. There were also some words to the effect that its Stadia game streaming service …

  1. SW10

    Radar nada

    It’s going to be quite hard to learn NOT to touch the phone, isn’t it?

    1. Vector
      Headmaster

      Re: Radar nada

      Not at all. Step 1: don't buy one.

      Particularly, since it still doesn't (i know: and will probably never) have a microsd slot.

      1. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Radar nada

        Micro SD slot, a complete lack of Google spying, and a usable life of at least ten years, for a device of that price. It's not even close. Does it have a headphone jack? A removable battery would be nice too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: for a device of that price

          for a device HALF of that price.

          ...

          actually, not really, it's got NOTHING that would be worth uprading my (3rd) hand handset for. And several things that would make it a "definitely not" decision :)

        2. IceC0ld Silver badge

          Re: Radar nada

          you've basically described a Windows phone, but I doubt if you had one of them ? :o(

          I may well have been the ONLY happy Windows phone user :oP

          recently had to go the Android / Apple route, got the Pixel 3, nice unit, but as set out above, it could be SO much better

  2. Tom 38 Silver badge

    I wonder what will happen when you pick up the phone because its ringing and then cant decide whether to answer or not. Ahh, I'll call that twat back later. Oh shit, was that the gesture for 'answer phone call'

    1. tfewster Silver badge

      A two-finger/middle finger gesture should be easy enough to remember to "skip ads/songs, snooze alarms, and silence phone calls".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Facepalm

        As soon as I read the bit about motion commands, I was taken back to Douglas Adams take on the idea -having to sit rigidly still to avoid any motion it took as a command to skip back, forwards or sideways.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Radars in home

    If this becomes a standard, how long until companies aren't as privacy sensitive as the Paragon of Privacy, Google Inc?

  4. IGotOut
    Megaphone

    Stop it Reg!

    "It's about two pounds, 13mm thick"

    Pick one, either modern or medieval but please, just pick one and stick with it.

    1. Oh Matron!

      Re: Stop it Reg!

      How many cubic furlongs does that make it?

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Stop it Reg!

      I do, however, give them kudos for saying 13mm thick, as it is a measurement of thickness, and not 13mm thin, like many sites.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Stop it Reg!

        And I don't think I've ever seen Reg refer to thickness as "z-height" either. Cringe.

    3. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Stop it Reg!

      From memory, on a bag of sugar it says 1kg = 2.2 pounds so that makes the phone weigh about 850g or 6 times as much as a Pixel 3. That doesn't sound right but hey, the radome has to take up some mass.

      1. dajames Silver badge

        Re: Stop it Reg!

        From memory, on a bag of sugar it says 1kg = 2.2 pounds so that makes the phone weigh about 850g or 6 times as much as a Pixel 3. That doesn't sound right ...

        For a phone, no it doesn't ... but the thing that weighs 2lb is a Chromebook.

        1. Ken 16 Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Stop it Reg!

          Oh OK, 13mm does sound the right thickness for one though. That's less than half my Nokia 5110.

  5. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Pricey

    Support sounds good and it probably has a global radio, but storage and ports is the modern bare minimum. I have a 400GB microSD card and a headphone jack. Leaving those behind would make me feel like I have an ordinary flip-phone not a premium pocket-sized computer and movie viewer.

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: Pricey

      Well, I agree about the microSD, but the headphone jack functionality is actually in the USB-C spec (if you connect appropriate control lines in appropriate ways, three of the data lines become audio while simultaneously supporting charging). I do appreciate the irritation over changes, but to be honest the 3.5mm headphone socket is pretty enormous for what it does and by the time you've sealed it against water, etc it's a huge proportion of the available volume. I'd have loved an audio port like the Apple magnetic thing, but all in all the Type-C approach isn't bad.

      1. smartroad

        Re: Pricey

        A 3.5mm jack doesn't take that much volume. A quick search on an electronic parts retailer shows one at 0.63cm3. 1.5x0.6x0.7cm in size. It really isn't that big for a phone to absorb.

  6. Douglas Wardle

    Gladly

    Don't fret Google, I won't be giving you my money.

  7. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    It's a wonderful, amazing, life changing device, and it fits in your pocket.

    It just seems a shame that you won't be able to do anything with it without sitting very very still...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A 3-year life?

    Isn't that a lot shorter than even that paragon of planned obsolescence, Apple?

    And for $999? They really are trying to compete with El Fruity aren't they...

    As for the apps.

    The recorder app.... Saves sending all the audio the device hears to google for transcription. Instead it does it on the phone and then uploads it to the Chocolate Factory. At least Google can now say that it is not listening to users Audio...

    I was looking at a new car. The one that I really liked ran Android (not used Android Auto) as its main OS. I wonder how much spying Google will do with that application of their spyware? It was for that reason that I decided not to buy the car (or at least put a deposit down on it).

    If seems the google is in a race with facebook to integrate themselves totally into people's lives. Once we become dependent upon them, it is game over for our privacy.

    1984 was fiction but is being used as a blueprint for the future by these companies.

    1. simonlb Silver badge
      Happy

      Yeah, only three years. At least the Nexus 6 models got a four year lifespan.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        3 years is a lifetime by Android standards. Even in Google's Recommended for Android Enterprise devices only get three years of "security updates"

        https://bayton.org/docs/enterprise-mobility/android/what-is-android-enterprise-recommended/

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Be fair now, at these prices google are charging you less that $1/day to let them spy on your every move.

          /sarc

        2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          That 3 years is also really long by Nest standards. Or Google Nest at Home, or whatever they're now calling it... Didn't they kill one of the products that was less than 18 months old after they took the company over? And you notice that there's a lifetime on the phones and Chromebook, but none on those.

    2. pavel.petrman Bronze badge

      Re: google is in a race with facebook

      About the "google is in a race with facebook" - Google is winning by multiple lengths and is great at not making too much fuss about it as well. Look at it this way: it¨s very feasible to block Facebook completely at your firewall and it will get very little data about you (it still will courtesy of people around you, but very little of it actually). If you do the same with Google, two thirds of websites you visit from your well guarded Linux desktop computer will look hideously and the other third will get out of order completely. And that is just the web, you can't effectively avoid all the androids out there. Facebook is not winning.

    3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: A 3-year life?

      Interesting review in the Grauniad today of the OnePlus 7T - £549, and a noticeably higher spec, but you can't just wave at it. Runs Oxygen OS 10, so not sure how long that will be updated for, but hopefully can upgrade to later versions, so more than 3 year life.

      But even so - £500+, £1000+ for a frikkin' phone??? Remember when you paid £20/month for your mobile connection and they threw in a free new phone every 2 years?

      1. Neal L

        Re: harmonising the guns

        Technically they never threw in the phone for free. You paid for it out of the monthly contract, they just weren't up front about it. Now, thanks to the EU, mobile companies have to show the cost of the phone and the contract separately .

      2. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: A 3-year life?

        Well, my OnePlus 3 is now on Android / Oxygen 9 and still gets regular patches. A tad over three years now and still counting.

    4. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: A 3-year life?

      LineageOS will probably be available for it soon, and should be supported for far longer than 3 years (hopefully).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A 3-year life?

        "Hopefully" is not a reliable strategy...

    5. RegGuy1

      Re: A 3-year life?

      1984 was about 1948, and the world as it was then.

      They had fake news then, too.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ... gesture sensitive

    Yay! I've always wanted a theremin! :-)

    .

    1. MrReynolds2U

      Re: ... gesture sensitive

      get that app built!!!

  10. Temmokan

    Just curious, will the thing tell gestures of its owner from gestures of anyone else waving hands in vicinity?

    Something tells me it won't be exactly much fun... Apart from the mentioned absence of microSD and the rest.

  11. Xiox

    Sounds like the sub-ether radio in Hitchiker's Guide, where you had to sit infuriatingly slowly not to change channels: http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=1329

    A loud clatter of gunk music flooded through the Heart of Gold cabin as Zaphod searched the sub-etha radio wave bands for news of himself. The machine was rather difficult to operate. For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive--you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure, of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same program.

    Zaphod waved a hand and the channel switched again

    1. PPK
      Thumb Up

      Gestures

      Came here for this - leaving satisfied...

  12. Missing Semicolon
    Alert

    Data slurpers selling Wifi meshes

    The snoop possibilities of wifi mesh products hadn't occurred to me until I heard that Amazon want to buy a company that makes them. You now have to pick even more carefully!

    1. O RLY

      Re: Data slurpers selling Wifi meshes

      Amazon succeeded in acquiring Eero.

  13. PerlyKing Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Privacy

    Google isn't giving privacy the finger: When the Soli chip is active, according to Ellis, the sensor's data is processed on-device and isn't saved or shared with other Google services.

    Are Google really being generous here? At radar frequencies it's not like it's going to be reading your fingerprints! Or is the range sufficient to map the room you're in? Combine that with GPS data and Google Maps goes to a whole new level!

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Privacy

      the sensor's data is processed on-device and isn't saved or shared with other Google services.

      Until some software update in the future when due to an oversight by an "engineer" the sensor's data is added to the telemetry back to base.

  14. mrdalliard
    Thumb Down

    That Pixelbook - Eh?

    I'm struggling to work out who pays 629ukp for a laptop that's scuppered from the start. Are the prices on these things gradually creeping upwards?

    I've never seen something so unappealing. People criticise Apple, but at least my six-year old Macbook Air is still eminently usable and getting OS updates.

    1. Benson's Cycle

      Re: That Pixelbook - Eh?

      Half that seems about right for an always connected device with a decent 1020px screen and a solid keyboard. And that's what I paid for this one.

  15. big_D Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    6GB?

    Why are they being so stingey with RAM? My current phone is 3 generations old and has 8GB RAM...

  16. AIBailey Silver badge

    Pre-order a Pixel 4?

    Have people learned nothing from Google's earlier phones?

    You don't pre-order a Google phone. The correct process is to wait and see what issues there are. And wait for them to be fixed. And wait a little more, just to be safe.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pre-order a Pixel 4?

      I agree with you on this but that will take 6-12 months so then you have a £1000 phone with a 18 -24 month supported lifespan.

      To be honest this is what drove me into the hands of Apple. We change one of our phones every 2 years for the iphone current gen -1 model and keep each phone for 4 years. It still bloody expensive but it means we are always on supported models and have a fairly glitch free life. I ditched android after the wnd 'flagship' handset in a row stopped receiving updates within 2 years of purchase. I had toyed with a non standard ROM but many apps wouldn't run. I tried a windows phone which was supported and did run apps until the providers ceased them and then gave in and went Apple.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Windows Phone

        Looks like I'm 2 or 3 years behind you. Loved Windows phone. Now on my 2nd Android - released 2 years ago, bought 1 year ago. No security updates for ages.

        I have a Nokia Lumia 520 in my draw. Everyone so often I charge it up and see how well it's working. I've had to switch to IMAP for email (so no calendar) and Geocaching no longer works. Apart from that, it's still superior to Android in every way. So quick and the live tiles work so well.

        Ah well, Apple beckons.

        1. bengoey49

          Re: Windows Phone

          Still have Nokia 640XL, occasionally use it for reading news and YouTube. It was a good operating system. Have been using Android since the demise of Windows Phone. Pixel 4 is too expensive, from past experience quality of the hardware is not going to be as good as Apple . My original Pixel (late 2016)had to be replaced after 3 months ownership. The Pixel still works and is on Android 10 but battery is now bad particularly as it is 2750 mAh to start with. I have got several different Android phones, from my experience Sony , Xiaomi and Samsung are good with updates. LG is terrible. Although I don't like Apple for its policies I guess if I am buying a new phone now I would buy IPhone because in the long run it is more economical ( up to at least 5 years updates and much better second hand value when you sell it ) especially as now I think the camera of the iphone 11 is at least as good as the Pixel and it is only slightly more expensive than the Pixel. Google please listen to your customers, price is too high and battery of the smaller Pixel 4 is too small.

      2. Gio Ciampa

        Re: Pre-order a Pixel 4?

        "wnd 'flagship' handset in a row stopped receiving updates within 2 years of purchase"

        Guessing Samsung...

    2. batfink Silver badge

      Re: Pre-order a Pixel 4?

      ...and then not buy one.

  17. Flywheel Silver badge
    Terminator

    Radar .. useful

    Now that They can probably pinpoint your location with extreme accuracy, the radar will be useful to detect the pre-emptive drone strike that your Government just launched against you. You'll probably need to root the phone for that to happen though...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Radar .. useful

      I think you got it wrong, radar is VERY useful to locate your lost phone! :D

  18. bluejam

    Will the rear camera on the Pixel 4 suffer from a total failure well within its expected lifetime, like that suffered by thousands of existing Pixel devices?

    https://support.google.com/pixelphone/thread/3317373?hl=en

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.GoogleCamera&hl=en_IE&showAllReviews=true

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Recorder app, which can transcribe recorded audio – reporters rejoice

    1. but not your phone calls, eh?

    2. and will never send this data to google servers, except as covered in T&Ts. Reporters rejoice :)

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Recorder app, which can transcribe recorded audio – reporters rejoice

      Transcribed text takes up much less upload bandwidth when multiplied by the billion.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Transcribed text takes up much less upload bandwidth

        ... and can be handily mangled/auto"corrected" before upload, for enhanced outcomes.

  20. N2 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    let me get this right

    People are prepared to spend $999 for Google to suck up every word and click of what they do and where?

  21. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    What a bunch of negative nellies!

    I've just read through this thread, and there's not a single positive post (out of about 40 so far). Isn't it interesting how corporate image can change? I almost feel like defending Google now, though I'm not going to as even I'm not that contrary.

    Contrast this to the gurgles of delight on here when they released their next Nexus device - that were generally reliable, reasonably supported and really well priced. Of course they were also made by competent manufacturers, whereas I'm still not convinced that Google have got this whole consumer electronics thing nailed yet. Their service and support is still pisspoor and from what I've read their quality control isn't great - though that could just be that I'm hearing all the complaints and yet because their stuff is so expensive don't come across it in real life to get a good opinion.

    I wonder if they've got a reputation management bot out there, that's looking at this stuff and reporting to management? Or if they've just stopped caring?

    I thought that Facebook were going to be good for Google, as they're so awful, with so few redeeming features, that they make Google look better in comparison. But these are 2005 Microsoft levels of negativity. And MS have spent an awful lot of time and effort to only partially improve opinions of them.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: What a bunch of negative nellies!

      I think you'll find that in our post-truth world we line up to spill bile on stuff.

      TBH Google used the Nexus phones to trail Android's features while manufacturers were churning out crippled customised versions. They haven't needed to do this for a few years now with Samsung particularly, but others as well, producing top of the range devices, so the Pixels are pitched at a different crowd, which the price should make clear, which is, I assume Google Fanbois and Fangrrls. But, basically, it allows Google to test on-device AI.

  22. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Learing Lessons

    Has Google learned nothing from Apple? If you want to break into a market, you need a product that will blow the competition away.

    Compare the state of smartphones when the iPhone came out, or the state of tablets when the iPad came out. Apple offered something the competition didn't have — functionality, style and tight integration with other Apple products (for those who swang that way).

    Android did well because it offered a competitive OS on smartphones with a significantly lower price.

    what does this smartphone offer that really sets it apart from $1000 iPhones and Android phones? The Google name? Motion detection?

    I also found this paragraph amusing.

    The line about the reporter commenting on the upcoming concert by the band Disaster Area in 'The Restaurant at the End of the Universe' came to mind:

    And in this particular instance, Google isn't giving privacy the finger: When the Soli chip is active, according to Ellis, the sensor's data is processed on-device and isn't saved or shared with other Google services, lied the goon from Google.

  23. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Boffin

    Assistive tech - fancy that ...

    I've been suggesting that the Next Big Thing in tech needs to be features that will be of use to an ageing population that might start having problems with fiddly displays and hint-the-button on a 6" screen.

    Is this is ?

    Time will tell, but if you are an investor, this is where you need to be looking at.

    This, and longer battery life. The more we rely on our mobile tech, the longer it has to run between charges.

  24. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    ...process face unlocking faster by readying the camera when motion is detected

    Hardly groundbreaking. The in-built accelerometers have enabled motion detection for years. Doesn't need a special radar chip to do that.

    Smells of needing to reinvent obscure use-cases to help justify the radar chip.

  25. Spanners Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Don't forget

    The department of silly ideas got them to junk the fingerprint sensor so that you are stuck with visual recognition at best.

    No more unlocking with your fingerprint and turning the music on without getting up in the morning!

  26. Winkypop Silver badge

    But

    Those prices.....

    Heavens to Murgatroyd

  27. Luiz Abdala Bronze badge
    Trollface

    The Recorder app, which can transcribe recorded audio

    I can't wait for the Youtube-style automatically-wrong subtitles popping everywhere!

  28. dnicholas Bronze badge

    Shiny things for stupid people

  29. mihares

    "And in this particular instance, Google isn't giving privacy the finger: When the Soli chip is active, according to Ellis, the sensor's data is processed on-device and isn't saved or shared with other Google services."

    And we aaaaaaaaaall believe that.

    I mean, probably the on-device processing is true, because otherwise you'd gesture, stare at a spinny thingie for some tens of seconds, and then get a reaction.

    But I'm not buying that the data isn't saved or shared with Google.

    Actually, I'm not buying the whole phone. Just to be on the safe side.

    1. hellwig Silver badge

      Exactly. In a few days/weeks/months time after release, we will all learn that the device was "accidentally" storing all radar data and phoning home back to google daily.

      "Oops, this was a development/testing feature we didn't mean to activate in consumer products".

      It will, of course, be in plain-text. Not that it's necessarily harmful to users (what does the radar data tell anyone?), but it can't be accidentally collected data if it's not in plain text.

  30. Barry Rueger

    Transcribe what?

    There are two noteworthy apps shipping with Pixel 4: the Recorder app, which can transcribe recorded audio – reporters rejoice –

    Has Google backtracked, or does Android still block the recording of your own phone calls? Idiots.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing that makes me want to replace my Alcatel feature phone. Certainly not at those ridiculous prices.

  32. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Mushroom

    3 year lifespan!

    Go tell that to greta von whatshername whos currently berating us for being shallow mindless throwaway consumers... ohh shiney

    PS I'm out of contract in 4 weeks and need either

    1. a new expensive shiney while old shiney goes to landfill

    2. a new sim because the old shiney still fucking works!

    Jeez give the damn things a decent lifespan will ya google.... blow the R&D cash on longer lasting batteries with lower power consumption , not a new radar sensor that can tell TPTB exactly where you are in the room when they come for you...

    Icon... for wasting the planet

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just buy a recent Xiaomi phone

    Or a Huawei.

    You'll get significantly better value for money and more wow factor.

    1. Barry Rueger

      Re: Just buy a recent Xiaomi phone

      Upvote for the Huawei suggestion. It's been a very long time since I liked a phone this much.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just buy a recent Xiaomi phone

        How the hell does someone down vote you for liking your own phone?!?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm half Italian and half French

    This just won't work for me.

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