What you need to know

  • Google has promised that it will soon roll out a software update for the Pixel 4 to enable 90Hz in "more brightness conditions."
  • The company says the "Smooth Display" on the Pixel 4 switches down to 60Hz in order to help extend battery life.
  • It is expected to release the software update in the "coming weeks."

Yesterday, it was discovered that the Pixel 4's "Smooth Display" refreshes at 90Hz only when the brightness level is set above 75 percent. Google has now released a statement that sheds some light on why the Pixel 4's display switches to a lower refresh rate at lower brightness levels.

Google says the Pixel 4's screen is set to refresh at 60Hz in certain situations so that the battery life can be extended. Since the Pixel 4 has a relatively small 2,800mAh battery, we're not entirely surprised that Google decided to lower the refresh rate at certain brightness and ambient conditions.

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While users can already force the Pixel 4's "Smooth Display" to refresh at 90Hz at all brightness levels from Developer Options, Google plans to release a software update that will enable 90Hz in "more brightness conditions." Fortunately, Pixel 4 owners will not have to wait very long for the update to arrive. Google expects to roll out the update sometime in the "coming weeks."

Here's the full statement sent to The Verge by Google:

We designed Smooth Display so that users could enjoy the benefits of 90Hz for improved UI interactions and content consumption, while also preserving battery when higher refresh rates are not critical by lowering back down to 60Hz.

In some conditions or situations, however, we set the refresh rate to 60Hz. Some of these situations include: when the user turns on battery saver, certain content such as video (as it's largely shot at 24 or 30fps), and even various brightness or ambient conditions. We constantly assess whether these parameters lead to the best overall user experience. We have previously planned updates that we'll roll out in the coming weeks that include enabling 90hz in more brightness conditions.

Google Pixel 4 XL

With a fantastic 90Hz 6.3-inch OLED display and dual rear cameras that excel in all lighting conditions, the Google Pixel 4 XL is an impressive new Android flagship. While not as compact as the Pixel 4, the bigger Pixel 4 XL offers much better battery life.

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