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Joanna Stern’s Pixel 4 Review: ‘The Smartest Smartphone You Probably Won’t Buy’

The good:

Voice. Ah, my true love: the Recorder app. Hit record, and in real-time it instantly transcribes what’s being said. Unlike with many competing dictation apps that require connection to the cloud, this process happens entirely on the Pixel device. Even when you cut the Wi-Fi and cellular connections, it works — and works super well, as you can see in the video.

I recruited people with different voices, including one of the world’s fastest talkers. It struggled when transcribing Shakespeare, and stumbled on an Irish accent, but it held its own, especially on speed, against a court stenographer. None of the recordings or transcripts are shared with Google; no other apps have access to the recordings, unless you explicitly choose to share them.

Truly seems like an amazing feature — especially so that it’s entirely on-device. This puts iOS’s transcription to shame.

The bad:

The battery life is unforgivingly so-so. In my testing of the Pixel 4 XL, I was often in the red by 9 p.m. — substantially earlier than with the new iPhones. On the days I tested the Recorder app, I had to charge around 5 p.m. (Google warns that transcription and captioning can tax the battery.) The regular-size Pixel 4 has an even smaller battery, rated for even shorter battery life.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019