The main issue, and possibly the only issue, with the Pixel 4 is and was its woeful battery life. For a flagship of that ilk (and price) to not even last a day for most users is simply not good enough. Reports this morning are surfacing that suggest that Google knew about this battery life well before the launch and did nothing about it.
The Information is today reporting that Google’s head of hardware, Rick Osterloh expressed his displeasure in staff meetings, saying that he did not agree with some of the hardware decisions.
At a hardware team all-hands meeting in the fall, ahead of the October launch in New York, Osterloh informed staff about his own misgivings. He told them he did not agree with some of the decisions made about the phone, according to two people who were present at the meeting. In particular, he was disappointed in its battery power. Google denied a request to speak with Osterloh.
It seems strange that the head of hardware was not able to steer hardware decisions to where he was happy and to continue to produce a phone which did not meet his expectations. It is possible and probably likely, that the decision to not increase the size of the battery in the Pixel 4a (and 4a XL) has led to its poor sales in the past 7 or so months since its release.
The Information also states that one of Google’s main camera engineers also left Google after 10 years having a hand in every camera there since the G1. Marc Levoy, remember him? He was the one on stage at the Pixel 4 launch who told us we don’t need that ultra-wide angled lens in a phone. Given he has been there for 10 years his departure is unlikely to be related to the Pixel 4 failure but more to wanting new challenges in his working life.
We doubt that his departure will mean that much for the Pixel 4a or the Pixel 5 given that Google has teams of many engineers working on their Pixel cameras — a different team usually works on the “a” series to the flagship series. While we have no doubt they will miss him you can be sure Google has enough clever engineers to fill the void.
Hopefully this year all of Google can be on the same page and if anyone is displeased with certain features, especially one as important as battery life, that they are listened to and their qualms acted on if indeed are warranted. After all Australia needs a good Pixel phone, there is not much else in the lightly skinned flagship Android devices here. Even with the poor battery life the Pixel 4 is still an amazing phone — I just wish it would last the day.