Smartphone cameras have gotten better and better, there is no denying that, but at least part of the quality we are seeing is due to something called "computational photography". Each manufacturer is using software to develop each photo automatically into what should be a realistic picture of what you actually saw when you were there.
The Pixel 4 has an excellent camera, and the built-in computational photography is impressive, however, in a few cases, I found that it was making decisions that I wouldn't have made myself. Fortunately, the Pixel 4 and 4 XL allows you to save photos in RAW format, which is basically, an undeveloped photo. The vast majority of the time, I end up using the out of camera JPEG, but once in a while, I want to tweak it in a different direction, and the RAW file gives me that flexibility. I can always go back later and just delete the RAW files that I'm not planning on using. RAW files are larger, and can suck up a lot of space on your phone.
Here is a photo that I developed using Google's app called Snapseed. Adobe Photoshop Mobile also allows RAW editing, but doesn't know what to do with the Pixel's files, and lately, Photoshop Mobile has had stability problems on all my devices and frequently crashes. I'm sure Adobe will fix this, but until they do, I'll use Snapseed.
The first photo is an out of camera JPEG backlit by the sun and as a result, washed out. This isn't what it looked like. I was there. I just took it. So, I ran the RAW file through Snapseed and was able to tweak it until it looked like it did when I snapped it:. This isn't to saw that RAW files look better because they don't. They just afford you more latitude and creative freedom when tweaking. I have several photos from both JPEG and RAW that look terrible, and it was always my fault and not the camera.
Still, I did find that in most cases, the JPEG was enough to work with. For instance, if you use portrait mode, you can adjust the out of focus background after you take the photo, then save that result. You will only ever get a JPEG doing that, and never a RAW file, yet they still look great, and I was able to edit them with either Snapseed or Photoshop. For instance, the four photos below with out of focus backgrounds:
Sometimes, I was editing not to change light or colors, but to correct distortion, as in these buildings below, but the other photos without buildings came out without any editing needed at all. I've only played with the night mode on this camera a little, but am already blown away by it's potential. I'm looking forward to using this for some astrophotography.
This one was edited only to adjust white balance to taste.Sometimes I wouldn't edit at all because the choices made by the Pixel were spot on.