Google talks Pixel 4 90Hz refresh rate, will push update to enable it in more conditions

Pixel 4 XL hands-on video

Less than 24 hours after news came out that the Pixel 4’s 90Hz refresh rate only works if the phone’s display is at a high brightness, Google has shed more light on the matter and revealed that it’s planning an update to address it.

Google explains that it lowers the Pixel 4 refresh rate from 90Hz to 60Hz in order to preserve battery life when “higher refresh rates are not critical.” These situations include when battery saver is active, during certain content like video since it’s normally shot at 24 or 30fps, and at various brightness and ambient light conditions.

The company also confirmed to The Verge that it will launch updates in the coming weeks that’ll include “enabling 90Hz in more brightness conditions.”

Here’s Google’s full statement on the matter:

“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.”

The Smooth Display feature of the Pixel 4 that enables the 90Hz refresh rate is one of the highlight features of Google’s new flagship, so it’s understandable that some folks would be frustrated that the 90Hz refresh rate turns off in certain circumstances. You can dig into the developer settings of the Pixel 4 and toggle a setting to force the 90Hz refresh rate to stay on, but Google warns that doing so will increase battery usage, and concerns about the Pixel 4 battery size could deter some people from turning that setting on.

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