Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL owners have been plagued with hardware issues since the phones launched earlier this month. First Pixel 2 XL owners were met with a washed out display, and then users discovered OLED burn-in issues. That meant that certain software was staining the screen, leaving marks behind.
The problems stem from its display which, put simply, is not of the highest quality. Users have reported color shifting when looking at the screen from an angle, poor color reproduction and, most-recently, burn-in.
That last bit is especially worrying because the Pixel 2 XL has only been around for a couple of weeks. Android Central’s Alex Dobie posted a photo of the flagship on Twitter showing what he calls “some pretty wild OLED burn-in” after about a week of use. Burn-in is a concern with OLED panels, but it is rare for it to occur so early in a product’s lifespan.
This will, no doubt, put some people off buying the Pixel 2 XL — or the Pixel 2, for that matter. The Pixel 2 XL is arguably the best option of the two, mainly because it has a cutting-edge display, so it’s understandable if potential buyers will look elsewhere — like at the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, for example, or iPhone 8 Plus.
Some of the fallout is already apparent in the conversations We’ve been hearing around the Pixel 2 XL. People are conflating the 2 XL’s display issues with the Pixel 2, assuming both devices have problems. That’s a logical way to think, because in almost all cases of a phone having a regular and an XL version, the screen tech remains the same.
But in the case of Google’s 2017 Pixels, the smaller one has an OLED screen from Samsung, while the larger one has an OLED panel from LG — sort of the same tech, but entirely different leagues in terms of quality.
Even the Pixel 2 is not without fault. A new report suggests that it suffers from clicking sounds when being used on speaker during calls. The Pixel 2 XL is also said to be affected by this issue, though to a lesser extent. Now, users of the smaller Pixel 2 have a large thread on Google’s Pixel User Community forums complaining of “high pitch frequency sound and clicking” when the phone is held up to a user’s ear.
Multiple Pixel 2 owners have reported similar issues. “Constant clicking noise is audible whenever the phone is next to my ear,” one user reported. “Experiencing high pitched whirling noises when phone is up to ear in calls,” another said, noting that the noise can still be heard even when a call isn’t being placed.
While we wait for Google to complete its investigation, the interesting question to ponder is what exactly Google is hoping to achieve with its Pixel phones. Over a long enough timeline, the Pixel is Google’s answer to the iPhone.
But in the nearer term, and on a more realistic scale, Google’s only really seeking to have a buffer against Samsung’s dominance within the Android ecosystem. In both cases, Google’s first goal is the same: Google wants to be taken seriously as a hardware company.
This is why the Pixel 2 XL screen issues are such a devastating problem for Google’s Pixel lineup and trajectory. Google isn’t trying to generate an immediate return on its Pixel sales, either, even with the distinctly premium pricing of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.
That’s plenty of stuff for Google to investigate. But wait, there’s one more thing:
What you can see in the image above is a Pixel 2 unit that failed quality control but somehow found its way to a buyer, who complained about it on Reddit:
My new Pixel 2 failed QC at the factory, but shipped anyway 🙁 I was very excited to receive my new Pixel 2 (not-XL) this afternoon. I ordered the Quite Black 128GB unlocked model directly from the Google Store. I cut the tape seal, opened up the box, and was greeted with a blue slip of paper informing me the unit had “Cosmetic damage.” Here’s a picture I took of it. I’m working with Google support to sort it out, but it is still a little disappointing.
These sort of things can, and most likely will, get resolved in the end, and it is good to know that Google is looking into them. But for early adopters they can be so frustrating as to lead to the units being returned.
And that’s a shame for Google as well, another example being the Google Home Mini problem that recently had the smart speaker record everything and send it all to Google — its hardware division could develop a bad reputation that it might not be able to escape.
The Pixel 2 XL, meanwhile, suffers from a different screen issue called “black smear.” It’s a screen effect that occurs on the screen when OLED pixels are changing state, and these videos posted on 9to5Google highlight the issue.
Looks even worse here. Seriously for a second I thought “did the Reddit app add animations to video thumbnails?”
Nope. 30% brightness btw. pic.twitter.com/P0Pr60BdZd
— Stephen Hall (@hallstephenj) October 23, 2017
Let’s play a fun game called “watch a Pixel 2 XL become a blue blob on a Pixel 2 XL” pic.twitter.com/RXQNVaCRYw
— Stephen Hall (@hallstephenj) October 24, 2017