Skip to main content

Pixel 4 90Hz display: Here’s how much of a difference November’s update makes

One of the most exciting features of the Pixel 4 was its 90Hz display, but Google made the decision to limit that higher refresh rate in many scenarios. Now, an update is promising to expand how often your Pixel 4 uses its 90Hz display, and we’ve got some numbers to compare to see if it really made a difference.

Rewinding a little bit, it was discovered not long after the Pixel 4 was announced that Google limits the 90Hz refresh rate not just in certain apps, but also when the brightness is below 75%. Backlash followed, and Google promised that a future update would solve the problem and expand 90Hz to more settings.

Alongside November’s security patch, Google is also pushing that 90Hz update to the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Early reports have already confirmed there’s a noticeable difference in how often 90Hz is active on the device, but we wanted to quantify exactly how much of a difference that is.

To do that, we’re using an ADB command that shows exactly how much time Pixel 4’s 90 Hz display is active between reboots. We’ve got three data points to look at as well.

The first data point is my own. Before the November update, my Pixel 4 XL was using its 90 Hz refresh rate only 5% of the time. Specifically, it spent just a measly two hours at 90Hz over the course of 70 hours of uptime. How has that improved after the update? After roughly 24 hours, my Pixel 4 XL spent nearly three hours at 90Hz. That’s a huge difference.

Using an ADB command, we did the math that shows the device was at 90Hz for 5% of its total uptime previously, but after the update, 37% of the time. That’s an encouraging total, but the results are going to vary from user to user.

Cameron Summerson, editor-in-chief of Review Geek, was kind enough to share his numbers with me before updating to the November patch. In his case, his Pixel 4 XL was at 90Hz for just 42 minutes before the update — roughly 5% of the total uptime time, just like my own device. In his case, though, the first 24 hours only saw a jump to about 16% of the total uptime. His device spent a little over two hours at 90Hz.

Finally, let’s look at a much less common scenario in our own Abner Li. Abner locks his Pixel to 50% brightness (or lower) at all times, well below the 75% threshold. Before the November update, Abner’s device never activated the 90Hz refresh rate but after, it actually did turn on while on the same settings. Specifically, about 20% of his usage time. Notably, Abner’s device is the smaller Pixel 4 which means its brightness level still affects the refresh rate.

pixel 4 xl display homescreen pixel launcher 90hz update

What’s the conclusion? Google’s changes in the November update for the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL makes a pretty big difference in how often 90 Hz is used. For the Pixel 4 XL specifically, the 90Hz refresh was used pretty much at all times. The specific figures here might not be exactly the same for all users, but it’s clear Google’s changes have made a significant difference. How will that affect battery life? That remains to be seen…

More on Google Pixel 4:

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

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

Check out 9to5Google on YouTube for more news:



Avatar for Ben Schoon Ben Schoon

Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

Find him on Twitter @NexusBen. Send tips to or encrypted to

Ben Schoon's favorite gear