One of the standout features of Google’s brand new Pixel 4 flagships (that aren’t coming to India, and will not let you use Motion Sense even if you import them) is definitely the brand new 90Hz display that Google has branded “Smooth Display”.
However, as the Pixel 4 reached the hands of early users yesterday, one redditor observed that the 90Hz display wasn’t actually refreshing at 90Hz all the time. According to said redditor’s observations (which were later corroborated by a bunch of other users, and media outlets), even with the Smooth Display setting turned on, the Pixel 4 switched back to 60Hz refresh rates at lower brightness.
Google released a statement addressing the issue, and it’s apparently a feature. According to Google’s statement, the company is doing this in order to ensure a better experience for users while maintaining battery life. Here’s the entire statement that Google gave to The Verge:
“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.”
That sounds like valid reasoning from the Mountain View giant, I mean, most videos are shot at 60fps at max, and having the screen refresh at 90Hz will just waste battery. That said, the company should’ve been more transparent about how the phone switches between 60 and 90Hz instead of just mentioning that the refresh rate will dynamically switch to improve battery life.
The good news is that the company has said that it’ll be releasing an update in the coming weeks that will allow users to use 90Hz in more situations. So if you’re a Pixel 4 user, just hold on for an update.