It’s well-known that OLED displays can suffer from screen burn-in if objects regularly remain on screen for long periods — that’s why Samsung uses tricks like shifting the home button on newer phones.
It’s not supposed to crop up mere days after you’ve brought a device home, however, and that’s what has Google and owners concerned about the Pixel 2 XL.
First reported on Twitter by Android Central’s Alex Dobie, multiple people have noticed that when you look at the screen with a gray background, you can see faint outlines of the phone’s navigation buttons on the bottom. Screen burn-in isn’t an uncommon issue, but it does seem especially worrisome that it’s showing up within a week or so of these units coming into usage.
It’s also possible that what we’re looking at here is image retention instead of actual screen burn-in. If that’s the case, then it’s not as permanent. Neither one is good, but “ghosting” goes away where burn-in may not. Android Central has a good breakdown.
Whatever it is, it’s worrisome, so we reached out to Google for comment, and here’s the response from a spokesperson in full, but obviously pay attention to the second part more than the rosy specs listed in the first half:
The Pixel 2 XL screen has been designed with an advanced POLED technology, including QHD+ resolution, wide color gamut, and high contrast ratio for natural and beautiful colors and renderings. We put all of our products through extensive quality testing before launch and in the manufacturing of every unit. We are actively investigating this report.
If it really is genuine screen burn-in (and early indications do, in fact, seem to point in that direction), it’s a really big problem. Many screens, especially OLED screens, do begin to exhibit burn-in over time. But that time span is usually measured in multiple months or even years, not days or weeks.
Whatever the case, this definitely isn’t what Google wanted to deal with. There are already other complaints about the Pixel 2 XL’s display, whether it’s colors that aren’t as vibrant as on some phones (albeit more accurate) and a blue tint when you view the screen from a sufficiently wide angle.
What you shouldn’t do is try any workarounds or apps from Google Play that promise to “fix” screen burn. Right now nobody even knows exactly what we’re seeing, only that it’s there.
Well, hello there. I have burn-in on my 2 XL. Not as bad as some, but this is maybe 10 days of not even being used as a primary device. pic.twitter.com/g600Gw1GdK
— Stephen Hall (@hallstephenj) October 22, 2017
What is burn-in?
Screen burn-in happens when a portion of the display has the same imagery long enough to cause a ghost image of it to hang around after you change the screen to display something else. It’s usually most noticeable in the notification shade or status bar (the clock is notorious for “burning in”) but it can also happen with navigation buttons or even home screen icons. It’s usually an issue with OLED panels and usually takes a good few months before it starts to show up.