Leaked Pixel 4 front panels hint at an unexpected new feature

Front panels don’t tend to be the most exciting bit of a handset, but for unreleased products, they can occasionally give us useful inside information concerning layout and size. The latest one for the Pixel 4 has the internet buzzing at what it could mean.

The images above come from reliable leaker Ice Universe and show two screens, purportedly for the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. They’re actually pretty similar with no differentiating notch like the last two generations of Pixel phone, but what’s really interesting is the number of cutouts along the top.

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The last Pixel phone came with two front-facing cameras for extra-wide selfies, letting more people in snaps. But that only accounts for two of the holes, so what about the others? Well, the thin one is clearly for the speaker, and there’s also the possibility of Google including some advanced facial recognition technology, especially given earlier renders don’t show a fingerprint reader

But one possibility for the wide gap on the right is a bold new feature that Google first teased all the way back at I/O 2015: Project Soli. That means gesture controls, using Google’s radar-style sensors. 

The technology may be better for small screens, like smartwatches where things are more fiddly, but it has to debut somewhere, and it wouldn’t be without its advantages here. You could zoom in on a map without covering the bit you want to see, say, or increase the volume on a precariously propped up phone without risking knocking it over. 

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That’s assuming that’s what it is. If past Pixel releases have been anything to go by, we won’t know for sure until October when Google lifts the lid on its latest set of smartphones.

Would gesture controls be useful on a smartphone? Let us know what you think on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.

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