- Google’s new iPhone rival, the Pixel 2, has been beset by problems.
- There are numerous issues reported with the Pixel 2 XL’s screen, while the Pixel 2 is making weird noises.
- The company is investigating, but some reviewers are warning customers to hold off on buying the phone for now.
On October 4, Google launched the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL — its two new high-end, iPhone-rivalling smartphones.
The two devices looked distinctive, and were initially well-reviewed. “There’s no better Android phone, anywhere, than the Pixel 2,” wrote Wired. It is “simply fantastic,” said Trusted Reviews. “Were it not for a few issues,” The Verge declared, “it might have received the highest score we’ve ever given a phone.”
Since then, things haven’t gone so well.
The new smartphones have been beset by a wave of issues, from potentially catastrophic problems with the Pixel 2 XL’s screen to weird clicking noises coming from the smaller Pixel 2, delivery delays, and more.
It’s an embarrassing setback for Google as it tries to establish itself as a phone maker to rival Apple and Samsung.
There are multiple issues with the Pixel 2 XL’s screen
First, the screens.
There’s a whole host of complaints from customers about the OLED screen in the larger Pixel 2 XL made by LG.
First, there have been numerous reports of “ghosts” of images and icons remaining on the screen of the Pixel 2 XL after they should have have disappeared (e.g. a faint residual navigation bar appearing at all times).
It’s not clear if it’s temporary “image retention” or far more serious “burn-in,” which could necessitate replacements to be issued. Google is investigating and replacing faulty devices, but some critics are already urging customers not to buy the device until the problem has been identified.
“We’re temporarily removing our score on the Pixel 2 XL,” The Verge warned. “In the meantime, we can’t recommend buying this phone until we can definitively say that the screen isn’t permanently damaging itself within weeks of buying it.”
Next up, there has been criticism of the white balance of the Pixel 2 XL’s screen, as well as reports of graininess on some screens.
9to5Google also reports that there is significant “black smearing” — when blacks appear to smear across the screen while scrolling. Here’s a video showing how that looks:
The Pixel 2 is clicking and whining, customers say
The Pixel 2 initially seemed to be free of the technical issues marring the 2 XL’s roll-out. But now it’s facing its own problems.
Dozens of users have complained in the official Google forums that their devices are making strange clicking and high-pitched whining noises.
“Whenever the phone is unlocked, I can hear a constant ticking (like the second hand of a watch) if the phone is against my ear. Doesn’t happen when the screen is off, or when the screen is on but the phone is locked,” one disgruntled customer wrote.
“Experiencing high pitched whirling noises when phone is up to ear in calls. Also during normal use can put phone up to my ear and hear the noise,” said another.
It sounds like switching off NFC (temporarily) solves the clicking noise — but the whining is unconnected. A Google spokesperson told Business Insider it is aware of the reports and is looking into the issue.
There have been issues with pricing and deliveries
Some customers who want Pixel 2’s are having trouble getting their hands on them.
Per Android Police, some people have had their orders pushed back by as much as a month, with Google offering a free case to say sorry.
This isn’t a serious issue — delays are fairly common on sales of in-demand smartphones — but it’s still frustrating for the customers involved.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Verizon was overcharging people who bought the phone at pop-up stores in the US by $US30 (£22).
It’s the second PR disaster in a month
In short: There’s a whole host of issues.
Time will tell whether the problems are permanent, or if they can be fixed with software updates. And even if they are significant hardware problems that necessitate repairs (or even a recall), it necessarily isn’t the end of Google’s smartphone ambitions.
After all, Samsung bounced back even after its flagship Galaxy S7 wouldn’t stop catching fire.
That said, it’s clearly a significant setback. After all, Google is still new to hardware, and trying to build a reputation as a company capable of building gadgets as well as the software that powers them.
Earlier this month, the Californian firm was forced to permanently disable a button on its Google Home Mini smart speaker after it was found to be secretly recording people. A second hardware screw up within a month, this one affecting its flagship devices, is a reputational nightmare.
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Looks even worse here. Seriously for a second I thought “did the Reddit app add animations to video thumbnails?”