Pixel 4Source: Android Central

What you need to know

  • After the latest software update, the Pixel 4's "Smooth Display" switches to 60Hz when the brightness level is set at below 42%.
  • The Google Pixel 4 XL, on the other hand, now runs at 90Hz irrespective of the ambient brightness level.
  • Pixel 4 owners still have the option of forcing the display to refresh at 90Hz at all times from Developer Options.

Yesterday, Google began pushing a new software update for the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, fixing the screen refresh rate issue and also bringing the latest November security patch. However, as reported by XDA Developers Editor-in-Chief Mishaal Rahman, the Smooth Displays on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL now behave differently.

While the latest update makes the Pixel 4 XL's display refresh at 90Hz irrespective of the ambient brightness level, the Pixel 4 sticks to 90Hz only when the brightness level is set above 42%. Below that threshold, the display switches down to 60Hz.

Now, this isn't completely surprising, since the Pixel 4 has a significantly smaller 2,800mAh battery. Previously, the Pixel 4's display would switch to 60Hz when the brightness level was set below 75%. While it doesn't seem likely that Google will lower the ambient brightness threshold further for the Pixel 4's display anytime soon, you can still force it to refresh at 90Hz at all brightness levels from Developer Options. Needless to say, however, doing so will result in worse battery life.

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While the screen refresh rate "bug" is now fixed on the bigger Pixel 4 XL, the update has made the display gamma bug more noticeable than before. When the Pixel 4 XL's panel is running at 90Hz and you turn it on and off, the display now looks too "contrasty" as it applies the wrong gamma table.

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