Google’s Pixel 4 and 4 XL are the latest smartphones to jump on the high-refresh-rate craze, but when your new shiny Pixel is finally in your hand, you may find that its 90Hz screen isn’t always as smooth as you expected.
Unlike other high-refresh-rate displays, the Pixel 4's refresh rate changes dynamically, and you’ll most notice this is your screen’s brightness is below 75 per cent. When that happens, your Pixel 4's refresh rate will drop from 90 to 60Hz.
While you can always try to keep your screen’s brightness maxed out to take full advantage of that slightly smoother display, certain features—such as Android’s battery saver mode, wind-down, digital wellbeing, or dynamic brightness—can change the screen brightness automatically. You can disable or change these in your device’s system settings, but most users will probably want to keep their phone’s brightness down in dimly lit environments. Nobody likes to stare at a super bright light while sitting in a dark room, which is partly why dark modes have become so popular.
And then there’s the issue of battery life; having your screen at full brightness all the time is an obvious energy drain. The same is true for running your device at 90Hz all the time, but here’s the workaround if you don’t mind trading a little uptime for a high refresh rate:
How to force a 90Hz refresh rate on your Pixel 4
The setting is hidden in the Android developer options.to access it you need to put your phone in developer mode.
Go to Settings > About.
Scroll down to the bottom of the menu and tap “Build number” seven times in a row. A notification will pop up saying you’re in developer mode.
Next, go to Settings > System > Advanced > Developer options.
Make sure Develop options is turned “On.”
Scroll down and turn on “Force 90Hz refresh rate.”
The other thing to keep in mind is that certain types of media will force the screen into 60Hz mode. As Google told The Verge:
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.