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The Pixel 4 has a secret high brightness mode – here’s how to activate it

The Pixel 4 has a hidden brightness mode to make it even easier to navigate your phone in direct sunlight. Here’s how to switch it on.

The secret brightness setting could allow users to boost the peak luminescence of their display up from about 450 nits (we recorded 422.81 nits with regular use) to around 610 nits. 

Usually, the Pixel 4 can only reach 600 nits and above when playing HDR video content but XDA Developers has discovered that the smartphone can actually reach these brightness levels elsewhere when toggled manually with root access.

To access the high brightness mode, all you need to do is root your Pixel 4 and then enter the following shell commands:

echo on >> /sys/class/backlight/panel0-backlight/hbm_mode

The high brightness mode will only activate when the screen has already hit its max brightness level but you may want to keep an eye on your battery life, since it’ll definitely drain a little faster than usual.

Read our review of the Pixel 4

While the Pixel has never really stood out for its high quality display – previous models have struggled with overlooked colours and dirty-looking whites – we were pretty impressed by the improvements this time around.

With decent HDR viewing and relatively accurate colours we didn’t have much to complain about with Google’s latest smartphone display. That said, the Pixel still falls behind Apple’s iPhone 11 and the Samsung Galaxy S10 when it comes to max brightness.

Related: Best Phone

In our review of the Pixel 4, we wrote:

“The phone can actually go beyond 422 nits when playing HDR content, which requires a minimum of 600 max brightness. But with normal use that’s the highest figure we recorded. The figure means the Pixel 4 is bright enough to stay legible in everything but extreme bright sunlight. It is significantly lower than the nits level we recorded on key rival flagships, like the iPhone 11”.

This hidden brightness setting could be exactly what Google needs to keep up with competitors when it comes to their impressive glowing screens. 

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