Pixel 4 Unable To Maintain 90Hz Refresh Below 75% Screen Brightness

Ramish Zafar
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Google's latest Pixel smartphones are a mixed bag of features. They come with impressive upgrades in certain areas (such as facial recognition and 90Hz display refresh) and remain inadequate in others (battery capacity). This is disappointing as Google's had plenty of time to learn the ropes in smartphone design, and it's certainly got the resources to execute ambitious plans as well. Now, we're coming across interesting reports related to the two smartphones' 90Hz display refresh rate. Take a look below for more details.

Google's Pixel 4 Smartphones Unable To Maintain 90Hz Display Refresh Without Enabling ''Force Display Refresh Mode''

It looks like Google's decision to under-equip its smartphones battery wise has come with its costs. The Pixel 4 has a laughable 2800mAh power back and its larger brother has a 3700mAh cell powering it. Now, several users have discovered that while the two new smartphones certainly do support 90Hz refresh, they're unable to continuously do so unless forced through developer options.

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The details, as reported by OrganicNebula on Reddit reveal that the two smartphones are perfectly capable of 90Hz refresh at brightness levels above 75%. However, as soon brightness drops below this, the smartphones automatically switch to 60Hz refresh. This, as you'd have guessed, will be irritating if you're gaming in low ambient light.

Speaking of ambient light, this is where things get interesting. As Jeff Springer of Dopetechdaily observed, the 90Hz display refresh isn't turned off when the device is being used in high ambient light; even if the brightness is turned all the way down. As soon as ambient light levels go down, however, the refresh goes back to 60Hz.

XDA Developers' dilligent and vigilant Mishaal Rahman has confirmed this through ADB and logcat. The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL come with two 'display ids' reveals Rahman. The first, referred to as 'id=1' supports 90fps ({id=1, width=1080, height=2280, fps=90.0}), and the second referred as 'id=2' supports 60fps (id=2, width=1080, height=2280, fps=60.000004} when invstigated through dumpsys. The following command lines in logcat navigate the settings:

  • If brightness < 75%, display id = 2.
  • If brightness >= 75%, display id = 1.

Additionally, there are several methods to stop the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL from reverting to 60Hz display refresh. The first, as mentioned above, is through enabling developer options. The second involves rooting the smartphones to change "config_brightnessThresholdsOfPeakRefreshRate" in the framework-res__auto_generated_rro_vendor framework overlay found in /vendor/overlay.

Finally, the reason behind this appears to be that Google applies a different calibration curve for brightness values below 75%. The problem is software-based so Google has the option of fixing it through a future update. Own a Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL? Do test all this on your device and let us know what you think in the comments section below. We'll keep you updated on the latest.

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