So far, aside from concerns about its face unlock working even when someone’s eyes are closed, the Pixel 4's launch has been smoother than Google’s previous phones. However, in a recent video, YouTube channel JerryRigEverything may have uncovered a potential issue with the latest Pixel.
In Zack Nelson’s (the guy behind JerryRigEverything) most recent durability test, he found that after trying to bend the Pixel 4, it didn’t hold up quite as well as he expected. Just by using his hands and a bit of effort, he was able to crack the phone’s frame in multiple locations.
While the test isn’t exactly very scientific, it calls back to a similar issue Apple faced with the iPhone 6 Plus after buyers reported that their new phones were bending, despite simply using and carrying the devices in a normal fashion. Then a few years later, something similar happened to the 2018 iPad Pro, which Apple admitted was prone to bending.
On the iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Pro, Apple’s main problem was an aluminium frame that had been compromised by cutouts for the SIM tray and antennas that weakened the phone’s overall structural integrity, and based on Nelson’s video, the Pixel 4 suffers from similar issues.
If you watch the video, you can see the point at which the Pixel 4's metal frame snaps is also where Google added plastic bands to help improve antenna reception (since radio waves don’t travel well through metal). Normally, these plastic antenna bands are hidden by the matte black paint Google used on the Pixel 4's frame, so they aren’t immediately obvious to an average phone owner.
However, it seems that when stressed, these antenna bands are the weak spot in the Pixel 4's design. Nelson also remarked that because phones have gotten a lot stronger over the past few years, he was surprised to see the Pixel 4's frame crack as it did. However, even when he was intentionally trying to break the device, Nelson was only able to break the phone when bending it inwards (towards the screen), as when trying to bend it outwards, the Pixel 4's screen added enough extra resistance to prevent the phone from breaking.
But the bigger question remains: Does the Pixel 4 have an issue with durability? I’m not so sure, because in the video it appeared to take much more effort to break the Pixel 4 than with the iPhone 6 Plus or 2018 iPad Pro. Additionally, unlike with the iPhone 6 Plus, there haven’t been widespread reports of Pixel 4 owners complaining about broken phones.
Furthermore, none of the Pixel 4 review units I tested for our review have shown any signs of breaking, bending, or cracking—even after multiple weeks of use. The potential caveat to all this though goes to people who store their phones in their back pockets and then sit on them, potentially subjecting the phone to a person’s full body weight.
But as someone who believes phones should never go in back pockets (no matter how strong the phone is) for both durability and security reasons (it’s easier to steal a phone hanging out of someone’s back pocket), the chances of a Pixel 4 being broken during normal use seems highly unlikely.