3 Best Smartphones under $600 in 2020

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Winner
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 SM-N960F/DS 512GB/8GB (Midnight Black) 6.4" QHD+ sAMOLED Factory Unlocked GSM (No CDMA) - International Version (No Warranty in The USA)
Best Price
LG G8s ThinQ (128GB, 6GB RAM) 6.21" OLED Display, Snapdragon 855, Dual SIM GSM Factory Unlocked LM-Q810EAW - US + Global 4G LTE International Model (Mirror Black)
Pixel 4 - Clearly White - 64GB - Unlocked
Model
Galaxy Note 9
G8s
Pixel 4
Test Result
Test Result 9.6/10 Excellent June 2020
Test Result 9.4/10 Very Good June 2020
Test Result 9.2/10 Very Good June 2020
Manufacturer
Samsung
LG
Google
Display Diagonal Size
6.4 inch
6.21 inch
5.7 inch
Storage
512 GB
128 GB
64 GB
Battery Capacity
3,500 mAh
3550 mAh
2,800 mAh
RAM
6 GB
6 GB
6 GB
Performance of Smartphone
Value for money
Weight
7.1 oz
12.8 oz
5.7 oz
Water Resistant?
Pros
  • Very good performance
  • Long battery life
  • Useful S-Pen functions
  • Very good OLED display
  • Best Price
  • Equipment can hardly be improved
  • Very smooth display with 90 Hertz
  • Outstanding camera quality
  • Class loudspeaker with full sound
Cons
  • Fingerprint sensor is a bit small
  • Gesture control not mature yet
  • Wide upper display margin
Winner
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 SM-N960F/DS 512GB/8GB (Midnight Black) 6.4" QHD+ sAMOLED Factory Unlocked GSM (No CDMA) - International Version (No Warranty in The USA)
Model
Galaxy Note 9
Test Result
Test Result 9.6/10 Excellent June 2020
Manufacturer
Samsung
Display Diagonal Size
6.4 inch
Storage
512 GB
Battery Capacity
3,500 mAh
RAM
6 GB
Performance of Smartphone
Value for money
Weight
7.1 oz
Water Resistant?
Pros
  • Very good performance
  • Long battery life
  • Useful S-Pen functions
Cons
  • Fingerprint sensor is a bit small
Best Price
LG G8s ThinQ (128GB, 6GB RAM) 6.21" OLED Display, Snapdragon 855, Dual SIM GSM Factory Unlocked LM-Q810EAW - US + Global 4G LTE International Model (Mirror Black)
Model
G8s
Test Result
Test Result 9.4/10 Very Good June 2020
Manufacturer
LG
Display Diagonal Size
6.21 inch
Storage
128 GB
Battery Capacity
3550 mAh
RAM
6 GB
Performance of Smartphone
Value for money
Weight
12.8 oz
Water Resistant?
Pros
  • Very good OLED display
  • Best Price
  • Equipment can hardly be improved
Cons
  • Gesture control not mature yet
Pixel 4 - Clearly White - 64GB - Unlocked
Model
Pixel 4
Test Result
Test Result 9.2/10 Very Good June 2020
Manufacturer
Google
Display Diagonal Size
5.7 inch
Storage
64 GB
Battery Capacity
2,800 mAh
RAM
6 GB
Performance of Smartphone
Value for money
Weight
5.7 oz
Water Resistant?
Pros
  • Very smooth display with 90 Hertz
  • Outstanding camera quality
  • Class loudspeaker with full sound
Cons
  • Wide upper display margin

We Tested and Selected the 3 Best Smartphones under $600 in terms of Performance, Display Quality, Price and more.

Above you can see the ranking of the Best Smartphones under $600 and below you will find additional info about choosing the right Smartphone under $600 and the test reports of each Smartphone in the Ranking.

Smartphones and mobile phones accompany us today in all situations of life. With more and more functions, they are developing into all-round talents that are easy to use even without technical know-how. Apps, SMS, Internet connection, game software, calculators, schedulers – the small devices take a lot of the work off our shoulders.

But in this context it is also important to buy a model that is technically perfect. These can then quickly become very expensive. A good alternative would be a mobile phone contract, whereby you can get a device of the current models for a reasonable price at regular intervals.

What many people don’t know – there are certainly smartphones without a contract under 600 Dollars on the market. What you have to pay attention to, which model is worthwhile and how to find the right deals, offers, you will learn in this report.

Guide: Smartphones under 600 Dollars

A Smartphone under $600. You will still get anything you need in this price category, experience and test report summaries also prove this. You have a quite wide selection of different brands. As a rule, you don’t have to do without a good camera or a powerful battery in this price category. Amazon for example offers brands like:

  • Samsung,
  • LG
  • Huawei

and many more some devices, which are also very suitable for a relatively small purse. These Smartphones in our Ranking are in no way inferior to the more expensive devices in terms of equipment. Thus, the devices normally have the following technical data:

  • High-resolution camera
  • Battery with several days of runtime or several hours of very intensive use with games or similar
  • Highly pressure sensitive touch screen
  • Several possibilities to unlock the mobile phone
  • Dual sim
  • Large memory
  • Voice recognition

Of course, a smartphone up to $600 is always being further developed, but this does not affect the price. Especially popular brand in this category is currently Samsung, but also Apple with its world-famous iPhones.

The smartphone under $600 Ranking clearly shows that not only a production series from Samsung is at the top of the ranking.

What to watch out for when Buying a Phone for under $600

A smartphone can certainly be snapped up as a cheap, bargain. However, some features are important.

First of all, one should first of all pay attention to the quality of the case and the technical features. Test report summaries on the internet, which are directed at this price category (Like our Ranking at the top), help here.

A high resolution of at least 8 mega pixels as well as the possibility of a dual sim should be included. The display itself should be relatively sensitive to touch. You can also look out for well-known brands like Apple, Samsung, Huawai or LG. With all brands you can find series in the assortment which contain cheap devices.

Ranking First: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review


Pros

  • Very good performance
  • Long battery life
  • Useful S-Pen functions

Cons

  • Fingerprint sensor is a bit small

For Samsung, the Galaxy note series has long been a kind of cautious experimental field for Samsung. While a little more performance proved its worth here and certain software features there, the innovations also found their way into the much more popular Galaxy S series.

For example, the Galaxy Note Edge introduced the Curved display, and last year the Galaxy Note 8 set new standards with the dual camera used by the manufacturer for the first time, which can now be found in an updated form in the Galaxy S9 Plus.

With the Galaxy Note 9, however, there is nothing experimental to discover at first glance – and not necessarily at second glance.

Samsung is concentrating on product maintenance and minor optimisations in the case of the Note 9.

However, it doesn’t take much more than that to get ahead of the competition, as Samsung already pretty much exhausted the current possibilities with the Galaxy S9 Plus at the beginning of the year.

Design

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 test

Visually, the Note 9 hardly differs from its predecessor. The lower frame is a bit narrower, the main camera on the back is arranged slightly differently. The clearest distinguishing feature is probably the fingerprint sensor, which is now no longer placed next to the lenses but underneath them.

This should prevent the one or other grop on the camera, especially since the lenses are clearly noticeable thanks to a discreet protective edge.

However, the fingerprint sensor is a bit small, so unlocking it with a finger still doesn’t feel optimal. Optionally, a combination of iris scan and face recognition is also available, which usually works well.

The workmanship is on a top level: Both the display and the glass back are seamlessly enclosed by the narrow aluminum frame, which is barely visible on the sides, as in the other Edge models (e.g. the Galaxy S9 and Note 8).

The buttons are also excellently embedded, whereby the power button is on the right, the volume rocker and the bixby button on the left, as usual. In addition, the Note 9 is certified to IP68, which means that it is protected against water and dust.

New compared to note 8 is the stereo sound (with Dolby Atmos certification), but only the upper speaker radiates forward. The lower speaker is recessed on the bottom.

Although this is common practice for many smartphone under $600 manufacturers, Sony shows for example with the Xperia XZ2 that even with an extremely narrow frame, two speakers can be accommodated on the front.

Battery Life

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 performance

Also new: The Galaxy Note 9 is Samsung’s current high-end smartphone under $600 with the largest battery capacity. The Galaxy S9 Plus, for example, offers 3,500 mAh, the Note 8 even “only” 3,300 mAh. The thicker battery is reflected in its endurance, as it lasts up to an hour longer than its two sister models with a battery life of around 10 hours.

With 7 oz, it is a bit heavier, but not more uncomfortable in the hand. The Galaxy Note 9 is recharged after 134 minutes via Quick Charge – that’s only 10 minutes longer than the S9 needs and about 20 minutes longer than the Note 8.

Wireless charging is also optionally possible, but a corresponding station isn’t included in the scope of delivery.

Performance

The differences to the Note 8 also turn out to be somewhat greater than in the comparison to the S9 Plus – after all, a year has passed since the release of the 8 series model. However, the new features are mainly under the hood.

The working speed is a bit better thanks to the more modern and higher clocked processor (2,700 MHz, Exynos 9 9810 Octa-Core), and the Note 9 supports LTE Cat 18 in contrast to its predecessor, but this is only a theoretical advantage, as in the US LTE Cat 12 is currently out.

S-Pen

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 s pen

A small but nice feature is the S-Pen, which can now be used as a Bluetooth remote control for some apps. For example, the camera can be triggered remotely, movies and music can be started and stopped, browsing history can be jumped back and forth and much more.

However, apps and functions are not freely selectable, but are predefined by the system. However, you can choose which app you want to start by clicking the pen button.

The remote control is particularly useful if you connect the Note 9 to a beamer, TV or monitor via a DeX station or HDMI adapter and run a PowerPoint presentation, for example. The S-Pen receives the power supply necessary for this pen function from the Note.

According to Samsung, the S-Pen can be charged from 0 to 100 in 40 seconds and then be ready for use for 30 minutes. In our test, the times are about right. The S-Pen can still be used for drawing even when the battery is empty.

The other S-Pen functions were taken over from the predecessor. For example, screen-off memos are still available: Here, it’s enough to simply pull the pen out of the slot with the display turned off in order to quickly create a note – the Galaxy Note doesn’t have to be unlocked for this.

By the way, the pressure-sensitive pen is very well recognized. When writing, no pulling or jerking is visible, and also sketches are quickly created with the note. Due to its design, the pen is very fiddly and hardly suitable for a longer use.

Anyone who wants to draw or write on the Note 9 for hours should therefore consider investing in an additional S-Pen in the classic pen shape.

Display

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 hands on

The last really noteworthy hardware difference is the minimally larger display compared to the Note 8, which now measures 6.4 inches instead of 6.3 inches, while the case dimensions have remained almost identical.

With this screen size, the multi-window feature, which is now standard in Android, can also be used sensibly, which is a real joy especially in horizontal mode. An operation with only one hand is of course not possible with such a monster display.

But if that should become necessary, the one-hand mode can be switched on and off at will with a gesture or a click, which reduces or enlarges the image accordingly.

Samsung hasn’t changed the resolution of the OLED screen. It still delivers a really sharp image with 1,440 x 2,960 pixels.

However, fonts are already sharp enough in the FHD+ resolution (2,220 x 1,080 pixels) activated by default. Enabling the higher resolution is therefore in most situations not necessary at all and just a superfluous power guzzler.

The standard brightness is 420.4 candelas per square meter at note 9, which is a good but not an excellent value. In direct sunlight, however, the note 9 automatically turns up to a full 721 candelas per square meter, so you should never have any problems reading the display.

The white point is top, the colors are typically OLED-rich. However, if you want, you can also set a more natural look in the screen settings and adjust the colors in every detail.

Camera

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera

The dual camera surprised us a bit in the test, as the grade 9 basically uses the same technology as the Galaxy S9 Plus. This means that the 12 megapixel main camera has an open aperture between F2.4 and F1.5 depending on the situation, which theoretically ensures more details in good lighting conditions and better photos in twilight or low light.

In addition, an optical image stabilizer, which is also available in grade 8, ensures blur-free photos.

All in all, we expected a small but visible quality leap in comparison to grade 8 in the test lab, or in other words: with photos on S9-Plus level. However, the comparison photos show a slightly different ratio – at least in low light.

In daylight, the pictures between grade 9 and Galaxy S9 Plus are almost identical in terms of detail sharpness, only the colours differ slightly, but that doesn’t really matter.

The second lens, which also has an optical image stabilizer, is still used as a 2x zoom. Switching between the two lenses works seamlessly.

Essentially nothing has changed with the 8 megapixel front camera. The photos are good overall, but lack a little sharpness. Interesting is the extended selfie mode, in which the smartphone under $600 can be slightly panned to capture more subjects, such as a larger group of people, similar to a panorama shot.

If you want, you can also use the AR emojis familiar from the S9 Plus for selfies, placing stickers and other creative features, as well as presets for portraits, food, landscapes and more.

For more control, the Pro mode, familiar from previous Samsung phones under $600, is available, which allows you to manually set the aperture and ISO value, among other things. In addition, the note 9 gives tips when taking pictures.

For example, the camera detects if someone has blinked or moved their head too much when releasing the shutter and displays a warning accordingly. If these text pop-ups are annoying in the long run, they can also be deactivated in the settings.

Also for videographers, there are some features that have been taken over from the Galaxy S9 Plus. 4K recordings, for example, are possible at up to 60 frames per second (fps), Full-HD videos at up to 240 fps (slow-motion). Super-Slo-Mo recordings are only available in 720p (1,280 x 720 pixels), but with extreme 960 fps.

Verdict

In the test, the Samsung Galaxy scored 9 top marks – and even outperformed its strongest competitor, the Galaxy S9 (Plus). The Galaxy grade 9 doesn’t really allow itself to make any mistakes in any discipline: Battery life, performance and features are at an outstanding level. The camera is also convincing, making the Galaxy Note 9 rank first on the Best Smartphones under $600.

Ranking Second: LG G8s

LG G8s review


Pros

  • Very good OLED display
  • Best Price
  • Equipment can hardly be improved

Cons

  • Gesture control not mature yet

LG already surprised with the previous generation of its mobile phone under $600 flagship, the G7 ThinQ (for testing) landed in the top ten of our best list thanks to several top features.

The South Koreans don’t let anything burn in the successor, the LG G8s ThinQ, and once again shine with their display expertise, but also provide the high-end mobile phone under $600 with a top processor and a configuration that can hardly be topped.

Besides, the LG G8s ThinQ comes up with innovations, which aren’t as mature as we would like them to be, though. More about that later.

The smartphone flagship is excellently manufactured and looks high-quality. The case is made of Gorilla Glass on the front and back and a stable aluminum frame. The sides are rounded off, otherwise the phone under $600 is mainly thin and flat, but fits well in the hand.

The wide recess on the upper display edge is striking. Instead of putting the front camera into a drop-shaped notch, as many manufacturers currently do, LG has placed two additional sensors there. You hardly gain any additional display surface due to the large recess, but the Notch was obviously necessary for the “modern look”.

Display

LG G8s hands on

The expert OLED manufacturer LG naturally leaves nothing to burn on the screen of its top smartphone under $600 model: The LG G8s ThinQ has a very good display with top color values.

The extended DCI-P3 color space is displayed completely, the standard RGB color space is displayed at 150 percent, and we also measure the white point as completely neutral white. So there’s nothing to complain about in terms of image representation, the large display is perfectly suited for HDR material.

Nevertheless, the LG G8s ThinQ can’t quite match the top devices from Samsung, Huawei and Apple in the display area. Despite the large 6.2 inch display, the smartphone under $600 “only” offers a Full HD Plus resolution (2,248 x 1,080 pixels), therefore the pixel density is 402 ppi.

We still rate this as “very good”, but higher resolution screens get a few more points. The LG G7 ThinQ, for example, offered a QHD resolution (3,120 by 1,440 pixels). But that’s not obligatory, the G8’s image is also sharp.

In addition, the device reaches a maximum brightness of 616 candelas per square meter (cd/m²). This is also very good, but doesn’t quite reach the peak values of Samsung’s flagship models, which sometimes turn up to over 900 cd/m².

The chessboard contrast in darkness of 188:1 is excellent. However, the contrast display drops somewhat in ambient light, as the screen reflects slightly more than the top performers in this rating category.

In the end, LG can’t quite build on old successes: Both the G7 ThinQ’s LC display and the V40 ThinQ’s OLED display (for testing) partly show better test scores. Nevertheless, it is whining on a high level. You get a great screen here.

Performance

LG G8s gaming

With the LG G8s ThinQ you get the best Qualcomm mobile processor currently available, the Snapdragon 855 with 2.8 GHz clock frequency. With this, the LG smartphone under $600 joins the ranks of the currently fastest Android devices. It is just as fast as the flagship models from OnePlus, ZTE and Xiaomi.

In addition, there is 6 GByte RAM. As a result, you get performance for all situations: standard apps start at lightning speed and handling is excellent. But you can also enjoy mobile games in high graphics settings with excellent frame rates.

Equipment

In terms of features, the LG G8s ThinQ, like the V40 ThinQ, is one of the top devices. You will hardly miss a single feature. In opposition to other manufacturers, LG even retains the headphone jack, and there is also USB type C (USB 3.1).

Dust and water protection according to IP-68 certification is also available – it doesn’t get any better at the moment. The stereo speakers with DTS:X 3D Surround Sound sound good, but we have heard even better sound on other smartphones under $600.

The fingerprint sensor is still on the back and not integrated into the display, as is now often the case.

The 128 GB of internal memory is ample and the memory can be expanded with a micro SD card. This finds room in the case drawer and replaces one of the two SIM cards of the dual SIM function (4G/4G).

The standard used for the LTE Internet is Cat 20, which allows an insane 2,000 Mbps download transfer rate. Of course, the mobile phone networks in the US do not provide this – but the possibility is there.

There is WLAN in 802.11-ac standard, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC. Android 9 is installed as operating system, which LG has modified with its own user interface and additional apps.

Control with Gestures

LG G8s gesture control

As a special feature the LG G8s ThinQ now scans everything that can be scanned. As already mentioned, the front camera is not alone in the recess at the upper display edge. There, there is additionally an infrared light and a so-called “Time of Flight” sensor, which depicts the surroundings in 3D.

LG calls both together “Z-camera” and uses it for biometric unlocking as well as hand vein recognition. On the other hand, the 3D sensor now recognizes complex hand gestures and thus certain mobile phone functions can be controlled with “Air Motion”: A hand movement to the left or right starts apps or plays videos and music, a twisting movement with the fingers increases or decreases the volume.

The question arises: How well does this work? Acceptable. After a period of getting used to it, the gestures are internalized, but it is not done with waving your hand.

The gestures have to be performed at a precise distance from the sensor and it takes some time until the device recognizes what you want. LG therefore argues that the “Air Motion” gestures are useful when “your hands are dirty or wet”.

In our opinion, the functionality is quite limited: You can start an app by gestures, click on “play” and turn it up. You can also take a screenshot by finger command.

The most interesting feature is accepting a call via gesture control, although the susceptibility to errors here can lead to unsafe situations. And whether you really have to do all this while your hands are dirty is up to you. In the end, it’s a gimmick.

Camera

LG G8s camera

The LG G8s ThinQ can’t compete with the top camera quality of Huawei and Samsung in high-end level. Although the manufacturer has improved in comparison to the previous model, the triple camera still can’t really convince.

In addition to the 12 megapixel standard sensor, you have a 2x optical zoom and a 13 megapixel sensor with super wide angle available.

The front camera is equipped with an 8-megapixel sensor, which is theoretically supported by the “Z camera” with its 3D depth sensor functionality. An optical image stabilizer for better image quality is also built-in.

The photos of the G8s ThinQ are very similar to the photos of the V40 ThinQ (for testing). In daylight conditions, the pictures are okay, but fine details are missing and you can see the sharpening. The quality also deteriorates in difficult lighting conditions.

The selfies are a bit better than those of the previous models, but not essential. You can record video in Full HD and Ultra HD resolution at 60 frames per second, and slow-motion shots are possible in Full HD resolution at 240 frames per second.

A digital image stabilizer is used during video recording so that your images are not blurred. Thanks to the depth sensor, you can also adjust the background blur while recording.

Battery Life

LG G8s backside

The LG G8s ThinQ can compete with the other top smartphones under $600 in terms of battery life. The phone doesn’t quite crack the 11 hours in our online endurance test, but the 3.550 mAh battery lasts for 10:53 hours.

That is a very good runtime. Charging takes a comparatively long time: namely 2:38 hours. Some competitors charge more quickly.

And after the first 30 minutes the G8s ThinQ has only charged 29 percent. Wireless inductive charging is also available. It’s not quite enough for a final “very good” in the battery rating due to the slow charging behavior.

Verdict

In the test, the LG G8s ThinQ proves to be an excellent high-end mobile phone under $600 that can compete with Samsung and Huaweis top models.

The performance is top notch and the OLED display is also convincing. No wishes are left unfulfilled in terms of features. The battery life is also good, which is why the LG G8s is ranking second on the best Smartphones under $600. Also it won our ‘Best Price’ Category, so if you want to save some bucks, buy this great device!

Ranking Third: Google Pixel 4

Google Pixel 4 review


Pros

  • Very smooth display with 90 Hertz
  • Outstanding camera quality
  • Class loudspeaker with full sound

Cons

  • Wide upper display margin

If you take the Google Pixel 4 out of its minimalist packaging, you immediately notice the very high quality workmanship of the smartphone under $600: Google always uses glass on the back of the device; however, the black version of the device is shiny, while the white and limited orange models are fitted with frosted glass.

The latter helps to avoid fingerprints, which the black model almost magically attracts. The frame of the device is also kept in matt black for all colour variations. The coloured power button provides a successful contrast to the respective device colour and rounds off the design of the smartphone under $600 well.

The dimensions of the device are striking: With a length of 147 millimeters and a width of 69 millimeters (screen diagonal: 5.7 inches), the Google Pixel 4 is one of the last really handy current flagships.

It is also quite light with a weight of 5.67 oz despite the glass back and current hardware. This may be due to the very small battery, among other things.

Design

Google Pixel 4 package

Above the screen, the Google Pixel 4 has a relatively wide display edge. Thus, the design of the front is not on par with the competition and appears aesthetically unbalanced. But the display edge has turned out so wide for a good reason, because Google has installed innovative and partly brand new technology in the Pixel 4.

The brightness sensor and a front camera are located to the left of the earpiece. To the right of the earpiece, Google has installed two infrared sensors, which are supposed to ensure fast and reliable 3D face recognition, and for the first time in a smartphone under $600 a radar.

While we are familiar with the technology used in aircraft and submarines to detect objects in the immediate vicinity, the pixel uses it to detect hand movements in the vicinity of the smartphone under $600.

So far, however, the full potential of radar has not been fully exploited, because there is not much that can be done with it.

Features

Google Pixel 4 hands on
  • With a hand movement to the left or right above the smartphone display, music can be fast-forwarded or rewound.
  • When locked, the phone detects if the user’s hand is approaching the phone and prepares all sensors for unlocking before the hand reaches the phone. When the phone is then picked up, the unlocking process is much faster.
  • If the phone under $600 is set to go into standby mode automatically after a short period of time, the radar can help: before the phone switches off, the radar checks whether the user is reading or looking at something and if so, leaves the display on. Only when the user no longer looks at the screen or puts the smartphone down completely does the automatic standby mode return.
  • A nice gimmick: You can set an exclusive Pokémon Live wallpaper on pixel 4. This shows an animated Pikachu or other Pokémon of your choice, along with the latest weather and time of day information.
  • The radar now allows the user to wave or caress the Pokémon character. The animated figure reacts according to the user’s actions.
  • The radar works reliably in our practical test, but the hand has to be moved very quickly. So if you wave at your Pokémon too slowly, you won’t get any greetings back.

The face recognition also works very reliably: In our test, it proved to be a faster alternative to Apple’s Face ID without sacrificing the security of an infrared scan. One of the reasons for this is the early activation of the corresponding sensors by the radar, as described above.

Google also gives the user a free choice as to whether the smartphone under $600 must still be unlocked manually after the face has been successfully recognized, or whether the lock screen should disappear automatically.

Display

Google Pixel 4 test

When the unit is switched on, a 5.7 inch display in 19:9 format lights up. Thanks to the more compact screen diagonal, Pixel 4 manages with a Full HD Plus resolution (2,280 x 1,080) pixels and even reaches a fairly high pixel density of 450.6 ppi.

Something to criticize is the maximum display brightness: It ends at 449 cd/m². When the sun is shining directly on the screen, reading image content is a bit of a challenge.

Moreover, pixel 4, due to the fairly wide upper display edge, only achieves a display surface ratio of 78.2 percent. For comparison: the current Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus achieves around 89 percent.

However, the Pixel 4’s display brings a special feature with it, which was previously only found in gaming smartphones under $600 from Razer and Asus or in the latest OnePlus devices: Google has raised the refresh rate from 60 to 90 hertz.

So the user sees 30 frames more in one second. The effect is clear: the smartphone’s operation seems more fluid and the picture literally sticks to the finger when scrolling. Once you get used to the fact that a smartphone under $600 display works at 90 hertz, you will hardly want to go back to the classic 60 hertz.

Performance

Traditionally, Google updates the hardware inside the device to the current standard for Pixel 4: The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor inside the device works fast:

Whether chatting, watching videos or playing games, the smartphone does its job and always remains superior. A total of eight cores and a clock rate of up to 2.84 gigahertz provide the processor’s computing power.

The processor is supported by six gigabytes of RAM. This is two gigabytes more than its predecessor, Pixel 3(XL). We would have liked to have had this memory in the models last year, because it seems that Google is always lagging behind a smartphone generation when it comes to memory size: While most flagships from 2018 were based on at least six gigabytes of RAM, Google still only used four gigabytes.

Today, the majority of competing models are equipped with eight gigabytes or more, while Pixel 4 now operates with six gigabytes. Nevertheless: For Android 10 Q, six gigabytes of RAM are sufficient. It remains to be seen, however, what the future software versions of Android will look like, which Google guarantees for its pixel smartphones under $600.

Camera

Google Pixel 4 camera

One of the main arguments for buying a Google pixel smartphone has always been the excellent camera quality. While the hardware never really stood out, Google’s photo software always conjured up high-contrast and realistic color images. Since the pixel 3, a separate chip has been working in the smartphones for the post-processing of the images alone.

For the first time, a pixel smartphone under $600 comes with more than one camera lens on the back. The dual-camera system consists of a main lens with 12 megapixels and a telephoto lens with 16 megapixels, the latter enabling a double optical zoom.

Both camera lenses are optically stabilized. Despite the excellent image results, the Google Pixel 4 only achieves a grade of 1.3 in the “Camera” category instead of the top grade, as no videos can be recorded in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second.

Google justifies this mainly by the fact that such videos occupy the free memory space very quickly. With this statement, Google falls somewhat into its own back, as the available memory variants are too small for a flagship from 2019.

And if you now think that recorded images and videos can simply be backed up again free of charge in original quality on Google Photos, you will be disappointed here too: Google only grants the user unlimited storage space on Google Photos in the preset quality “Large” and no longer in the original quality, as was the case with Google Pixel 3.

For pictures from a smartphone whose camera is supposed to produce the best results according to the manufacturer, this difference in detail between “large” and “original” makes a big difference.

Photo Quality

Google Pixel 4 backside

Since a large part of the excellent picture quality of pixel smartphones is generated by the software, Google at least here again makes up for it: The manufacturer has added an astro-photography mode to the night mode.

This makes it possible to take a clear picture of the starry sky and even see the Milky Way. But the mode can also be used in other situations to produce a massively brighter image. When the scene is dark enough and the smartphone under $600 is safely parked, the Astro mode will automatically switch to Astro mode.

When this is triggered, the smartphone takes numerous long exposure shots for just over four minutes and superimposes them by software. So it takes up to 270 seconds until the picture is ready, but the result is worth it: in our test, Pixel 4 even overtakes the Huawei P30 Pro, the previous LowLight King, and thus takes the lead together with its big brother Pixel 4 XL.

While a new camera lens was added on the back, Google made a camera lens disappear on the front. The Pixel 3 (XL) from 2018 still had the benefit of an additional ultra-wide angle front camera, the Pixel 4 has to do without it.

Although the built-in front camera is also very wide-angle, it doesn’t capture quite as much content in one image as the ultra-wide angle from the predecessor. The autofocus for the front camera has also disappeared.

Hardware and Software

Google Pixel 4 button

One of the massive advantages of a smartphone under $600 from Google are tag 1 updates: If you always want to enjoy system updates and new Android versions before anyone else, you can’t get around the pixel. So the current Google Pixel 4 is also equipped with the current Android 10 Q.

Google promises at least two years of system updates, whereby the first generation of the Pixel model series with Android 10 Q already experiences its third year of support. It is possible that Google Pixel 4 will also run Android 13 T in three years.

The loudspeakers are particularly noteworthy: even if the two front loudspeakers of the predecessor have disappeared and now radiate downwards or use the receiver shell, the sound is still convincing. Very loud and full sound quality even surpasses the two built-in front loudspeakers from the predecessor.

As usual, there is no headphone jack for this: The user must therefore connect headsets to the mobile phone via USB-C or Bluetooth.

We also liked the current USB-C 3.0 connection, current Bluetooth 5.0 and built-in NFC. The device is also protected from water and dust according to the IP-68 standard. Apart from WLAN-ax, the Google Pixel 4 supports all common WLAN and LTE bands and is also dual SIM capable.

However, the second SIM is a programmable eSIM and not a conventional SIM card. To find out exactly what an eSIM is all about, click here.

Verdict

The Google Pixel 4 scores well in our test. We were convinced by the fluid 90-Hertz display and the very fast face recognition.

The camera, in combination with the excellent software, also provides for outstanding results, especially in the low-light range. In return, the very short battery life is disappointing, especially among the flagships from 2019.

For around $550, the Google Pixel 4 in the basic version is also quite cheap, thats why we ranked it third on the best Smartphones under $600.


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