The maximum brightness on this year’s Google Pixel 4 is less than what you would expect from a flagship smartphone in late 2019. We have seen many complaints of the display, even at maximum brightness not being able to be shown in bright conditions.

It has now been discovered that Google has hidden the ability to make the screen even brighter but of course the enterprising developers over at XDA have found it. Hidden within the OS is a High Brightness Mode that once enabled has taken the display from a maximum of ~450 nits to ~610 nits (close to 25% brighter).

Unfortunately this High Brightness Mode cannot be easily found within the settings of the phone nor does it trigger itself when you go into the sunlight — it will only trigger when playing HDR video. In what is yet another nail in the coffin for me heading down the root access path for the Ausdroid Pixel 4 XL the only way to access this mode manually is with root.

By entering the following shell commands you can manually toggle on the High Brightness Mode:

echo on >> /sys/class/backlight/panel0-backlight/hbm_mode

Even though this mode is enabled it does not kick in all the time and will only do so when the display is at maximum UI brightness levels. If you spend a lot of time outside though be warned though that this will most likely kick in a lot and will drain your battery even more than what it most likely already is.

Unfortunately turning the screen off turns High Brightness Mode off and thus will need to be controlled by an automation app such as Tasker but this will also actually give you even more control over when it turns on hopefully helping your battery life just a little bit.

It is possible that Google are leaving these superpowered hidden treats for developers to find but leaving the basic phone for the 80% of the population but leaving the tools for what the rest of us want hidden within the system should we want to use them. Deliberate or not, once again where there is a will there’s a way when it comes to Pixel smartphones.

Source: XDA.
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Joel Kininmonth

As a pixel 4 XL owner, and commenting off said device, seeing things like this is is pretty annoying/frustrating.

One of the commonly raised issues during reviews regarding the Pixel 4’s is that it isn’t bright enough, which is especially noticeable during sunny days outside.

Why the screen can be brighter, but isn’t available without rooting is beyond me.

Tom Sekulic

Samsung calls this Auto high brightness mode. It’s like a “reserve brightness” that kicks-in when the surrounding light is really bright. You can’t manually crank up the additional brightness as it’s controlled by the OS (Samsung Mod).
Since P4 uses Samsung AMOLED panels, it would be *logical* to use Samsung’s Display brightness algorithms. Since it’s Google we’re talking about here, they won’t do it and rooting is the only alternative.
Or….they could’ve just put a big 5000mAh battery like Asus did in their phones and not worry about Display brightness levels.


Google’s decisions make no sense to me. Why not enable this as a feature without having to root the device like the first OnePlus device and even my Xiaomi Mi 9T gets extra bright when using in direct sunlight. Oh that’s right because 80% of users don’t want this feature. What a joke.