Google Pixel 4’s best feature isn’t as good as it seems

This year’s Pixel isn’t just about the camera. Instead, Google has tried to woo Android fans with a host of hardware improvements. The best of which is certainly the phone’s notch-free display.

Whether you pick up the Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL, you’re getting a high resolution panel with refresh rate up to 90Hz.

Why does 90Hz matter so much you ask? Well, until you use a 90Hz you won’t know what you’re missing. The increased refresh rate means scrolling through Google’s Android operating systems feels buttery smooth. It also makes the entire phone feel faster as a result, too.

While 90Hz displays are incredible, they come at the cost of increased battery usage. That’s why Google created a feature called “smooth display” that is supposed to dynamically adjust between 60Hz and the power-hungry 90Hz refresh rate depending on the content being consumed.

This means if you’re watching a video on YouTube that doesn’t support 90Hz, the Pixel 4 will automatically lower its refresh rate to save precious battery.

However, it turns out the Pixel 4 will automatically dial its refresh rate down to 60Hz if its brightness is set to below 75 percent.

First unearthed by Android developer Brian Sefcik and verified by the eagle-eyed folks at XDA Developers, that means you’re only getting a smooth experience if your screen is at a high brightness.

This, combined with Android 10’s adaptive brightness feature, means you might be experiencing last-generation 60Hz refresh rates more than you’d like.

There is a solution though, but it requires users to enable developer settings on their Pixel 4. Doing this is simple, head to Settings > About phone and then scroll right to the bottom where a build number is listed.

Tapping on this multiple times will enable developer settings on your device. To access these, head to Settings > System > Advanced > Developer options.

Scroll down in developer settings until you see a toggle aptly titled “force 90Hz refresh rate”. As the name suggests, this will ensure your Pixel 4 always runs at 90Hz.

Although this setting will certainly increase power consumption, for now it’s the only way to ensure your Pixel 4 runs buttery smooth at all times.

It’s worth noting that other 90Hz phones, such as the OnePlus 7 Pro, always run at a higher refresh rate when such a setting is enabled.