It certainly hasn’t been a smooth launch for the Pixel 4. After months of leaks that revealed every new feature coming to the handset, Google finally unveiled the device earlier this month.
Pixel 4 isn’t all about the camera this year, instead, it comes with a bunch of nifty hardware improvements that allow it to keep pace with some of its greatest rivals. Chief among these is the 90Hz display that delivers an incredibly smooth experience across Android… at least if your brightness is high enough.
That’s right, the Pixel 4 will only run at 90Hz if your brightness is above 75 percent. This bizarre constraint was unearthed last week, with the Mountain View firm hurriedly issuing a statement saying it will update the Pixel 4 so it runs at 90Hz in more brightness conditions.
But the controversy doesn’t end there.
Now technology blog 9to5Google claims the Pixel 4 won’t run at 90Hz when running four of the most popular Android apps, including Google Maps, Waze, Pokémon Go, and WeChat.
According to the 9to5Google, each of these apps is “blacklisted” by the Pixel 4’s “Smooth Display” feature, responsible for ratcheting up the refresh rate to 90Hz.
9to5Google showed Android Open Source code discussing the blacklist. It said when any of the apps mentioned are “visible”, the Pixel 4 will run at 60Hz. It was noted each app does “not work well” when used with 90Hz.
That means even if you’re navigating to a destination with Google Maps picture-in-picture, the Pixel 4’s display will max out at 60Hz. So you won’t be able to see any buttery smooth animations, even if you’re just scrolling through an app that does support 90Hz, like Instagram.
9to5Google did some digging for possible reasons the apps in question are blacklisted. It noted Niantic has already capped the frame rate of Pokémon Go to 30-frames-per-second for optimal performance. This means even if the Pixel 4 was running at 90Hz, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference anyway.
Similarly, Google Maps and Waze are both apparently working to limit the frame rate within each app to 60Hz. Although this hasn’t happened yet, it seems the Pixel 4 is readying for such a change.
Finally, WeChat reportedly experiences “poor performance under 90Hz”, according to Google. It’s currently unclear if the Pixel 4 is able to run the quartet of apps at 90Hz using developer settings.
In case you weren’t aware, there’s a setting hidden on the Pixel 4 designed to lock its display at the higher refresh rate.
Finding this feature is simple, just 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 duly titled “force 90Hz refresh rate”. As the name suggests, this will ensure your Pixel 4 always runs at 90Hz.