Google came so close to nailing its Android hardware vision with the Pixel 3 XL, but that incredibly deep notch and no-longer-world-beating camera held it back from true must-have status.
Will the fourth time be the charm, then? Rumours are already swirling around the impending reveal of the Google Pixel 4, and while it'll still be some months before the company's next flagships roll out, early word suggests some compelling changes in the mix.
Wondering whether you should hold out 'til later this year? Here's what we've heard so far about the Google Pixel 4.
(All concept renders on this page created by Phone Designer)
When will the Google Pixel 4 be out?
October. It'll be out in October.
That's just speculation, but let's look at the history here: all three previous Pixel models released in October, and Google seems to like that post-iPhone reveal window (for whatever reason). Unless there's an unexpected change, we should see it in October 2019.
Also, note that Google reportedly has a pair of trimmed-down budget Pixel 3 models - the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 Lite XL, or maybe the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL instead - expected out sometime this spring.
It's speculation, but it's reasonable speculation. We fully believe it.
How much will the Google Pixel 4 cost?
We haven't heard any solid leaks about pricing just yet, but the Pixel 3 phones were pretty pricey at £739 for the standard model and £839 for the Pixel 3 XL.
Given the constant upward trend for smartphone pricing, it wouldn't surprise us at all to see the Pixel 4 top those figures – especially with Samsung's Galaxy S10 stretching its legs up to £799 and £899 for its core and plus-sized editions.
We'll see how it pans out, but smartphone prices are steadily rising. We expect the same from Google.
What will the Google Pixel 4 look like?
If we're lucky, the Pixel 4 XL won't have a deep, awkward notch. Keep your fingers crossed on that one.
And actually, that's what the rumours suggest so far. One purported design leak points to a punch-hole cutout along the lines of Samsung's Galaxy S10 line, with a wide dual-camera screen cutout like the Galaxy S10+. That kind of approach should trim quite a bit of bezel from the front of the phone, assuming Google puts in more hardware polish than past iterations.
This leaked diagram from Slashleaks doesn't show a lot of detail, admittedly, but it does point to another two-tone backing pattern. That's the Pixel's trademark visual hook, even as the front of the phones has changed over time.
It's certainly possible that we'll see an S10-like cutout, but we're not yet convinced that this simple diagram is legit.
What about the Google Pixel 4's screen?
Beyond the rumoured punch-hole screen, we haven't heard any specifics about what to expect from the Pixel 4's screens. The Pixel 3 XL had a pretty brilliant 6.3in Super AMOLED Quad HD display, so we're hoping for another one along those lines.
If the rumours of a punch-hole cutout on the Pixel 4 XL prove correct, we wonder whether the standard Pixel 4 will follow the same route. After all, Google has opted for different designs between the standard and XL models the last two generations, and skipped the notch on the Pixel 3 the last time around. The speculative renders on this page - created by Phone Designer - suggest a smaller single-cam punch-hole for the Pixel 4, but we'll see.
It's too early to tell—we'll have to wait for more rumours and leaks.
How much power will the Google Pixel 4 pack?
History suggests that the Pixel 4 will use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, since Google always uses the latest and greatest flagship Snapdragon, and we suspect that'll be true again this time around.
Supposedly, the phone popped up on Geekbench earlier this year under the codename "Google Coral," and the results are pretty close to what we've seen from other Snapdragon 855-equipped phones. Even if the benchmark listing isn't real, the results look about right.
The Snapdragon 855 sounds right, and if true, then it'll pack plenty of power.
What kind of cameras will the Google Pixel 4 have?
The Pixel has always dodged the multi-camera trend and done spectacularly well with a single back shooter – but rumours suggest that Google will finally join the party.
That simple diagram up above shows a wider back camera module, which would provide enough room for a second back camera. Whether Google can pack in any unique dual-camera tricks remains to be seen, otherwise it might just be used for zooming and perhaps improved portrait shots.
Meanwhile, the diagram suggests two front cameras again, just like on the Pixel 3 models.
Google lost the camera crown last year to Huawei's triple-camera flagships, but maybe Google can do more with two than rivals do with three.
Is there anything else I should know about the Google Pixel 4?
The Pixel 4 will undoubtedly launch with Android Q. The recently-revealed OS upgrade – currently available in a developer's beta – should bring some neat new perks.
However, Google hasn't really shown much yet. We expect to hear a lot more at I/O 2019 in May, and the Pixel is always meant to be Google's showcase for the harmonious blend of Android hardware and software. That's sure to be true once again.
And if the earlier diagram is indicative of the final design, then a fingerprint sensor will potentially be in the display - or perhaps on the home button on the side.
We have sparse details on the Pixel 4 for now, but many more leaks are sure to follow in the months ahead. Stay tuned: we'll update this preview as each and every compelling new detail pours out ahead of this autumn.