Google acknowledges Pixel 2 XL display concerns and extends the phone’s warranty

Oh Google, you could have had a hit on your hands, if only you hadn’t bungled the display. Plagued with complaints about burnt-in images, faded colours, flickering and that weird blue tint on the Pixel 2 XL, the company has been forced to acknowledge the screen’s deficiencies and has extended the phone’s warranty to two years. Like Jon said in our review, if you’re not demanding perfection from your a £730 smartphone’s expensive screen, then there’s clearly something wrong.

After the Pixel 2 XL began shipping, report after report flooded in with pitchfork-wielding users complaining of issues with their display. We saw comments from customers claiming that the on-screen colours were much duller and faded, while others noted that switching screens would cause the previous screen to linger behind and create a “burn-in” effect. Not to mention reports of a blue tinge when the screen was tilted at an angle, as we highlighted in the review.

To douse the flames, on Monday Google said it was actively investigating the reports. Now, in a Google support forum post, Seang Chau, the VP of engineering has addressed and defended some of the phone’s quirks.

On the faded out, dull screen colours, Chau defended the screen, saying that it was due to their choice to prioritise natural colours.

“We’ve received some feedback about the Pixel 2 XL displays not appearing as saturated as other phones. We attribute this perception to our choice to calibrate the Pixel 2 XL for delivering natural, accurate colors, taking advantage of the new colour management support in Android 8.0 Oreo.”

But he did, however, explain that while the colours are intentional, they would be offering a solution for those who aren’t keen on it.

“Based on the feedback we’ve received since announcing Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, we learned that some users do want even more vibrant colours. So, through a software update to Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, we will soon be adding a new “saturated” colour mode.pixel_2_xl_review_-_2_0

Chau also defended the phone’s unfortunate burn-in effect as something that happens to all OLED displays.

“We’ve received reports of Pixel 2 XL devices exhibiting image retention on the screen and have been actively investigating them. Extensive testing of the Pixel 2 XL display show that its decay characteristics are comparable to OLED panels used in other premium smartphones.”

Although once again, Chau did say that they will be working on an update that should reduce this effect.

“We’re currently testing a software update that further enhances protections against this issue by adding a new fade-out of the navigation bar buttons at the bottom of the Pixel screen after a short period of inactivity. In addition, we’re working with more apps to use a light navigation bar to match their app’s colour scheme. 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.”

But the blue tint? Intentional, apparently. Hmmm.

“The slight blue tint is inherent in the display hardware and only visible when you hold the screen at a sharp angle. All displays are susceptible to some level of colour shift (e.g. red, yellow, blue) when viewing from off angles due to the pixel cavity design. Similar to our choice with a cooler white point, we went with what users tend to prefer and chose a design that shifts blue.”

That may be true to some extent, but as our review points out, the Pixel 2 XL’s colour shift is more obvious than on any flagship device we’ve seen – and even a slight tilt triggers it. It’s impossible to miss, and hugely distracting. It’s possible that we got unlucky with our review handset, but given our sister publications Expert Reviews and IT Pro had the same issues with theirs, we’re inclined to think not.

While Google is rushing to acknowledge and fix the phone’s problems, one company seems to want to fan the flames. Samsung didn’t miss a chance to take a passive-aggressive sideswipe at Google’s screen woes releasing a quick advert where people praise the Galaxy S8’s screen. The ad splices together reviews of all of their Samsung phones with users praising the company’s phone displays. While not directly mentioning Google’s Pixel 2 XL, we have a sneaky suspicion that Samsung has quickly put together the advert so as not to miss a chance to have a cheeky dig at their rival.

The software update to the Pixel 2 XL, which will bring the new saturated colour mode, the fade-out of icons on the navigation bar, the increased use of a white as a navigation bar colour, and the max brightness curve change will be available in the next few weeks.

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