Hopefully, you’re enjoying your brand-new Pixel 4 or 4 XL, had one for a little while, or are thinking that you might get one soon. For that reason we’ve compiled a few of our best tips and tricks for any potential Pixel 4 users out there.

There’s a whole wealth of control at your fingertips right out of the box, thanks to the Android 10 update and the unique features found on both Pixel 4 handsets. It’s always nice to know that there are lots of shortcuts, app tweaks, and software goodies all hidden within your smartphone — especially when you’re coming from an older device.

Some of these tips and tricks are completely new, and some are now even possible on older Pixel phones too — which is another nice bonus. It’s worth noting that there are some tricks that rely heavily on the new internals of the latest Pixel phones and so unfortunately won’t come to older models.

Will they make you more productive? Maybe. Will they save you time? Most definitely. Will they improve your experience of two of the best  — but still flawed — Pixel phones ever made? 100%.

Subscribe to the official 9to5Google YouTube channel

Before we delve in, to access a couple of these extra settings you will need to enable Developer mode. If you haven’t already done this, it’s a pretty simple process. Head to Settings and scroll all the way to the bottom. From there, tap System, then About Phone. Scroll to the bottom of this page and rapidly tap on the Build Number until a toast message appears telling you that you’re now a developer. Now, you’ll be able to activate and enjoy many of these Pixel 4 tweaks, tips, and tricks.

You may be able to get some of these new features on your older Pixel phones, but to learn more about what is and isn’t included, be sure to check out our full coverage of everything new brought in with the Android 10 update.


Enable 90Hz refresh rate everywhere

The new 90 Hz refresh rate display on the Pixel 4 and 4 XL really is gorgeous in action and the best panel we’ve seen on a Pixel phone to date. It does, however, have one minor issue — the adaptive frame rate. Luckily you can force the refresh rate to stay at 90 Hz with a Developer options toggle. With Developer Options enabled, head to Settings > Developer options > Force 90 Hz refresh rate > Toggle on.

Ambient EQ

The Ambient EQ setting adjusts the color and brightness of the Pixel 4 display in tune with the ambient lighting conditions in a similar way that the iPhone does. It’s really subtle and neat, and something that we think you probably should have enabled. To enable Ambient EQ, head to Settings > Display > Ambient EQ > Toggle on.

Screen attention

A fantastic addition, Screen attention prevents your screen from turning off while you’re looking at it. It uses the front-facing camera to detect if your eyes are looking at the display, and then ensures it won’t power off. To enable, head to Settings > Display > Screen attention > Toggle on.

Reach to check

While the Motion Sense features are not all brilliant, there are a few additions that really make life easier. Reach to check is one such inclusion that really highlights the benefits of Motion Sense and Soli on the Pixel 4.

You’ll need to enable Motion Sense by heading to Settings > System > Motion Sense > Toggle on and now toggle Reach to check “on.”


Pixel 4 camera tips

We’ve known since the first Pixel that Google has nailed the smartphone camera, and the Pixel 4 is no different. It also has one of the biggest shake-ups to the camera app design for some time, adding new features, a slight UI refresh, and some neat otherwise hidden options. Here are a few of our favorite Pixel 4 camera tips.

Hold shutter button to record video / Top Shot for short video

When in the photo mode, you can quickly record video by pressing and holding the shutter button. This does result in a lower-res video, though, with a resolution of 768 by 1024 pixels. You can, however, use the Top Shot for short video and export a 3 MB HDR image from the resulting clip.

Double-tap to zoom

Rather than pinching to zoom in or out, a double-tap on in the viewfinder of the Google Camera app will instantly zoom in to 2x and reveal the scrollable zoom controls. You can scrub the bar forwards or backwards to zoom in up to 8x.

Dual exposure controls

The exclusive Dual exposure controls that come as part of the Pixel 4 are easy to activate; just tap the viewfinder and the new controls will appear. Shadow adjustment will be beneath the exposure levels. You can even lock your adjustments if you find the perfect levels for your shots — the settings will reset if you close the camera or tap the viewfinder again.

Social sharing

A feature you might not even be aware exists, the quick social sharing feature is one that Google hasn’t really made a big deal of, but it’s a genuine timesaver that we think everyone should know. As far as tips for the Pixel 4 go, this is likely one that you might not realize you’ll use daily. Take a picture, and you can swipe up on the mini-preview bubble to instantly share to an app of your choice.

Google Lens features in Camera

The camera app on the Pixel 4 and 4 XL has had quite the overhaul, making it easier to use, navigate and is generally far smoother than it ever has been previously. It also includes a host of new additions that add some core Google Lens features baked right into the stock Google Camera app. Your camera will be able to scan documents, copy and recognize text, and even translate a small selection of languages. Just point at a document or text and a small pop-up will appear, which you can activate to use the new features.

Live Captions

Pixel 4 Live Caption tricks

The new Live Captions are an awesome accessibility addition to Android 10 and in particular the Pixel 4. Being able to get an accurate transcription of any video playing on your phone is something that really showcases just how powerful Google’s AI capabilities really are.

How to activate Live Captions

You can activate Live Captions in two ways. Head into Settings > Sound > Live Captions and toggling on. Or the easiest and quickest method is to tap the volume button up or down, then tapping the small Live Caption logo — a small box with lines within.

Hide profanities

Hiding profanities is something you might want to do if you have small children using your Pixel 4 or you’re watching videos in public. To enable, head to Settings > Live Captions > Toggle “Hide Profanity.”

Add sound labels

Watching videos without audio means that you might lose a little context when watching a seemingly wordless scene or section of a TV show or movie. Adding sound labels for music and background sound will enhance that should you want to use Live Captions. To enable head to Settings > Sound > Live Captions > Toggle “Show sound labels”

Enhanced gaming

Pixel 4 gamepad tips

Android 10 has brought in some almost necessary additional functionality for the mobile gamers out there, as you can now hook up your various Bluetooth gamepads far easier than ever before. The Pixel 4 comes with out-of-the-box support for Xbox One, PS4, and now Nintendo Switch Pro controllers.

How to connect a gamepad to Pixel 4

Power on your gamepad and open Settings > Connected devices > Pair new device > Select your gamepad. Once you’re synced and connected, you should be able to use your favorite gamepad with no issues. It is worth noting that not all games support a controller as standard — Call of Duty Mobile being a prominent game that currently doesn’t support any controllers.

Quick Vibrate mode

This is by no means new, but it’s a really neat quick toggle that makes it stupidly easy to set your Pixel 4 to vibrate mode instantly without having to unlock. Just tap the power button and volume up button at the same time and you’ll feel your phone vibrate — it’s now in vibrate mode.

As you can imagine, this is by no means the most comprehensive Pixel 4 tips and tricks rundown but, instead, a selection of some of what we consider the most notable features that you may want to know about. If you have any tips of your own that you would like to share, be sure to stick a comment down in the comments section to let others know about your favorites.

Not all of these features are completely exclusive to the Pixel either! Some are heading to older Pixel phones including the 3 and 3a at some point very soon. Be sure to check out our full rundown of confirmed features making the jump from Pixel 4 to Pixel 3 and 3a here.

More on the Google Pixel 4:

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Check out 9to5Google on YouTube for more news:

You’re reading 9to5Google — experts who break news about Google and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Google on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel

About the Author

Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter: @iamdamienwilde. Email: damien@9to5mac.com

Damien Wilde's favorite gear