Google Investigates Reports of Defects in Pixel 2 Smartphones

Google is evaluating reports by some users of its newly-released Pixel 2 smartphones of clicking noises during calls and display defects.

Google Pixel2 Handset

Google is investigating complaints from some buyers of the company's new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL flagship smartphones involving display defects and clicking noise during calls.

The customer reports began shortly after the latest Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL handsets went on sale Oct. 19. The display issue, which affects the Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 2 models, involves displays that lack full color vibrancy and image burn-in concerns.

The Pixel 2 issue involves irritating clicking noises that can be heard during calls, according to posts on the Google Pixel 2 product forums.   

"Over the past few days, we've been investigating reports of suspected problems with the Pixel 2 XL display related to differential aging (also referred to as 'burn-in') as well as evaluating overall display vibrancy based on some user feedback," wrote Seang Chau, a vice president of engineering for Google, in an Oct. 26 post on the product forum page.

"Our investigation so far has given us confidence that our displays are as great as we hoped they would be, though we’re also taking steps to address the concerns we've heard."

Chau wrote that Google is addressing the concerns about the less-than-vibrant displays by preparing a software update for Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 2 phones that will add an optional "saturated" color mode to give users the ability to view richer colors on their device screens.

Instead of using past color calibrations for the displays in the phones, Google gave the latest handsets updated color calibrations that take advantage of the new color management support in Android 8.0 Oreo, wrote Chau. The updated display color calibrations were designed to deliver natural, more accurate colors, but some users appear to prefer the brighter colors used in the past on their displays.

The software update will be available in the next few weeks, according to the post. The update will provide colors that are more saturated and vibrant, but less accurate, which is the standard for most other smartphones, wrote Chau.

In addition, Google is also testing a software update to resolve image burn-in concerns that some users are reporting on their Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL displays. The update will add a new fade-out of the navigation bar buttons at the bottom of the Pixel screen after a short period of inactivity, wrote Chau.

The update will also "reduce the maximum brightness of the Pixel 2 XL by a virtually imperceptible 50 cd/m2 (nits), thereby significantly reducing load on the screen with an almost undetectable change in the observed brightness."

Google said its investigation of the issue showed that the new Pixel 2 models do not appear to be exhibiting display image retention that is worse than comparable smartphones on the market, but that it is working on a software update to allay consumer concerns.

"We take every report seriously because we want to ensure that the experience on our phones has not been compromised," wrote Chau.

The user reports of clicking noises in some Pixel 2 handsets have been referring to high-pitched clicking sounds while making calls, according to another Google user forum. Dozens of Pixel 2 owners have posted comments about their issues with the noises, with some also noting complaints about Google's responses to their experiences. 

Orrin Hancock, a Google community manager for the Pixel handsets, posted an update Oct. 26 stating that the company is working on a software update on this issue to alleviate the problem.

"The update will be made available in the coming weeks," he wrote, adding that "the clicking noise being reported does not affect the performance of your device but if you find it bothersome you can temporarily turn off NFC in Settings > Connected devices > NFC."

Some users on the user forum board said that changing the NFC setting did not stop the noises on their new handsets.

Both Pixel models also have Corning Gorilla Glass 5 display covers and always-on displays, Qualcomm Snapdragon 835octa-core processors and the Adreno 540 graphics chips. In addition, the phones feature 4GB of LPDDR memory and model options of 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. Both also run on Android 8.0 Oreo and include unlimited online storage for photos and videos using Google Photo.

Prices for the new handsets start at $849 for the Pixel 2 XL with 64GB of storage, and at $649 for the Pixel 2 with 64GB of storage.