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Leaked Pixel 4 review reveals a feature that may be exclusive to Google’s phone

Published Sep 25th, 2019 7:06PM EDT
Pixel 4 vs. Android
Image: Nextrift

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Google will unveil the Pixel 4 on October 15th, but we already know pretty much everything there is to know about the handset. Part of that comes from Google’s own teasers and press releases that confirmed the three major Pixel 4 features: rear dual-lens camera, 3D Face unlock, and Motion Sense. This was the first year when Google actually revealed new Pixel features well before the press conference, but that didn’t put a stop to leaks.

Just like last year, Pixel 4 prototypes began selling in Asia weeks before the event, with plenty of YouTubers reviewing the handset and its pre-release software. In the last few days alone, we got to look at one such early hands-on experience with a Pixel 4 XL that showed us camera samples complete with a comparison with the Galaxy Note 10 camera and detailed the 3D face recognition system. The same source also briefly detailed a Pixel 4 feature that will be unlike anything else available on Android, past Pixel phones included.

Some of the most daring Google demos at I/O in recent years concerned Google Assistant, and this year’s developers conference wasn’t any different. During the event, Google showed us an amazing Assistant experience that not only allowed continuous conversation with its AI digital assistant, but was also incredibly fast.

Google explained that it recoded the app to reduce its size and make the voice recognition magic happen on the device, rather than on Google’s servers. Watching Google interact with the Assistant that way, live on stage, was very impressive. At the time, I wondered whether the device used on stage was a Pixel 4 prototype. That was at a time when leaks were claiming that the Pixel 4 would have a Galaxy S10-like hole-punch design.

The demo device was wearing camouflage, which kept some of its features hidden. But Google did specify on stage that the novel Assistant feature is “coming to new Pixel phones later this year.” The implication was that the Pixel 4 might have hardware to support a previously unseen feature. At the same time, Google would surely want to bring the same experience to other Android phones, rather than limiting it to Pixel 4 phones.

This brings us to Nextrift’s hands-on review with the Pixel 4, which included a brief description of the Assistant:

Back at Google I/O 2019, the capabilities of the new Google Assistant were revealed, and we’re happy to report that it’s available on our pre-release unit of the Pixel 4 XL. Basically, the new Assistant now runs on-device, allowing it to work a lot quicker than it used to.

And it really is fast: the next generation Assistant is noticeably quicker at processing our requests, which makes it a lot more seamless to use. Thanks to Continued Conversation, we can also issue new requests to the Assistant one after another without having to say “Hey Google” every time.

Oh, we also dig the Assistant’s new interface. Very eye-catching.

This is great news for anyone using the Assistant regularly, whether on a Pixel device or another Android handset. But, for the time being, it sure looks like this faster, on-device Assistant will be one of the Pixel 4’s signature features. And the only way to take advantage of it would be to switch to a Pixel 4.

The best way to understand what the Assistant of the future looks like is to watch the I/O demo again:

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.