There's a 'hardware issue' in Google's iPhone-killer Pixel phone causing faulty microphones

Google pixel smartphone phoneSpencer Platt/Getty ImagesHello? Hello? Can you hear me?

The high-end phone Google built to rival the iPhone has been hit by a nasty hardware issue.

Multiple owners have complained on Google’s support forums online that the microphones on their Google Pixel smartphones are playing up, malfunctioning, or not working entirely — and a Google employee has confirmed that this is a problem with the hardware itself. (Android Police previously reported on Google’s response.)

The problem doesn’t seem to affect all Pixel phones. According to the Google employee, Brian Rakowski, it effects less than 1% of phones manufactured before January 2017, and devices built more recently shouldn’t be affected. (So if you’re buying one for the first time now, you should be ok.) It seems to effect both the regular Pixel and its larger sibling, the Pixel XL.

But that’s not much consolation for the users who have posted in the thread, which stretches to eight-hundred-plus replies.

“Microphone stopped working today,” one user said. “Same issue here. Working with support right now,” agreed another. “I definitely have a non-functioning mic. Google Assistant will not respond to my voice and if I make a phone call the person on the other line cannot hear me. However, if when on a phone call I switch to speakerphone, they can hear me. I can also use headsets and Assistant and phone calls work as they should,” adds a third. There are hundreds more messages like this.

So what’s the problem? Rakowski says the issue is with one of the microphones in the devices. “There are a few known root causes, resulting in similar but different symptoms.” The most common is apparently a hairline crack in some solder, causing intermittent issues affected by temperature. (Some frustrated users are using a hairdryer to try and do a DIY fix, but this seems unwise, and Rakowski doesn’t recommend it.)

Because it’s a hardware issue, Google can’t push out a software fix to solve the problem. The phones need to be returned and replaced. If your device is affected, Rakowski recommends you return it to the retailer you bought it from, whether that’s a third-party store or Google directly.

Google pixel phonesGoogleThe Google Pixel. Snazzy.

Reached for comment, a Google spokesperson directed Business Insider towards Brian Rakowski’s replies in the Google support forum thread.

The Google Pixel, announced in October 2016, is a high-end smartphone designed by Google. It’s intended to show off Android as the company intended it, without any third-party bloat, and as a premium handset capable of going head-to-head with Apple’s iPhone.

On release, the device has been well-reviewed — so Google wil be hoping to avoid any potential black marks against its reputation.

Get the latest Google stock price here.

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