The Google Pixel 2 XL is a pretty great phone in most respects. It’s fast. It has a stellar camera. And it has the latest software from Google, along with at least three years of updates delivered directly from the company that makes Android.

But then there’s the display. For the past week or so reviewers and early adopters have been looking closely at the Pixel 2 XL, and they haven’t always been impressed with what they see on the screen.

Google said it was investigating the issues that had been reported, and now Google VP Mario Querioz has an update. In a nutshell, it looks like Google is kind of denying that anything’s really wrong… but the company is promising to address some of the concerns that had been raised through software updates anyway. Oh, and the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will now come with a 2-year warranty in case you have any problems.

Google Engineering VP Seang Chau also has more details about the display in a separate post at the Pixel User Community forum.

Left: Pixel 2 / Right: Pixel 2 XL

Here’s a breakdown of some of the issues people have noticed, and the response from Queiroz:

The colors look muted

We already knew that this was intentional. The Pixel 2 XL has an AMOLED display, but colors don’t look as saturated on this phone as on many others. That’s at least partly because Google sets the color gamut to sRGB by default in order to offer colors that look more natural. That’s probably a good thing if you’re a photographer and want to see exactly how your photos would look if you printed them just by looking at the screen. But if you prefer the brighter, more vivid colors you see on other AMOLED phones, the Pixel 2 XL only lets you boost the colors by about 10 percent right now.

Querioz says that after receiving feedback from users, the company will roll out a software update that will let users opt for more saturated colors if that’s what they prefer.

Chau refers to this as “saturated mode,” and notes that it will lead to colors that are “more saturated and vibrant, but less accurate (similar to most other smartphones which display more vibrant colors).”

This is, honestly, probably one of the easiest things for Google to fix, so it’s good to hear that they’re going to give users the option.

Burn in

Some users have noticed that after using their phones for just a week, you can see a faint echo of the navigation icons against certain backgrounds. That’s because OLED displays have a “burn in” problem where content that’s displayed in the same part of the screen for an extended period can permanently affect that portion of the display.

It’s noteworthy that while the demo unit Google sent me does have this issue, it’s only visible when I view a full-screen image that’s just the right color to highlight the problem. Google says most of the time you can’t see any burn-in on the screen, and I have to admit that’s true for my review unit so far.

But while Google claims that the Pixel 2 XL doesn’t have any more of a burn-in problem than other phones (which may or may not be 100% accurate), the company does have the ability to do something about with a software update.

The problem area is the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen, because that’s where the same home, back, and recents buttons tend to be displayed over and over again.

So Google is tweaking the software: Android 8.1 includes an updated navigation bar that can change colors depending on the apps you’re using, and buttons that can fade out after a period of inactivity.

The 2-year warranty may also be good news here, since if the burn-in gets so bad that it’s noticeable all the time, that will likely be covered by the warranty.

Blue shift

View the phone from a slight angle, and the screen takes on a blue tint. In fact, from some angles, part of the screen will look blue while part looks white (or whatever color the screen should be displaying at that time).

Queiroz hasn’t said anything about this, and honestly I’m not sure there’s much Google could do short of choosing a new display panel to use when manufacturing future phones.

Update: In a follow-up, Chau says “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 color 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.”

In other words, don’t expect a fix for this issue. 

Black smear

Some users have noticed that when the screen brightness is low, scrolling can cause black pixels to sort of “smear” when you’re scrolling.

This is a known issue on many phones with OLED displays, but some observers seem to think it’s worse on the Pixel 2 XL. It’s not something I’ve really noticed much on my review unit though, and Queiroz hasn’t said anything about it.

Graininess

In some circumstances (particularly when the phone’s brightness is low, you’re in a dark environment, and you’re looking at a light background, the screen has a sort of dirty, grainy quality to it, which can be especially noticeable when scrolling.

I also noticed it when viewing solid-colored backgrounds using the Daydream View virtual reality headset.

No word from Quieroz on this issue either.

Not display related… but the “faint clicking noise”

Some users have reported that they hear a faint clicking noise or whining noise coming from their Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL phones. The issue doesn’t seem to affect all phones, but in a separate post on the Google Pixel User Community forum, a Google community manager said the company is testing a software update that addresses the issue and which should be “available in the coming weeks.”

For now a short-term solution is to turn off NFC.

via The Verge

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2 replies on “Google to address (some) Pixel 2 XL screen issues with software updates”

  1. You can’t fix a hardware issue with a software update.

    With that said, I actually prefer the sRGB “Natural” toned colours of the Pixel 2/2XL to the Oversaturated display of the Galaxy S8/S8+. It’s very close to the experience on iPhones, which is excellent to say the least despite the “resolution wars”.

    However, its clear that the LG OLED units in the 2XL have problems with brightness, conformity, viewing angles, banding, and burn-in. Without these issues, they would be fine. However, these issues were solved long ago by Samsung… in fact, the nearest device that was close to this quality was the Galaxy S4.

    The new screen technology Samsung adopted since the NOTE 3 has been a big milestone. And all the latest screens (S6+, Note 5, S7, S7+, Note7FE, S8, S8+, Note8) are very close to the performance we can see in the Galaxy S6 display, which was another milestone.

    I’m not sure if LG can fix these issues in 2018, its highly unlikely, as its not an easy task. I’m quite more optimistic it will be in 2019 when LG uses the new investment money from Apple and Google to open their new OLED factory in Korea. So until then, Samsung will continue to sell their second-best OLEDs to competitors (like OnePlus) and keep their best displays for their own high end devices and iPhones.

  2. These problems are specific to LG’s terrible smartphone OLED panels which are used in the Pixel 2 XL. Very poor quality control and nowhere near as good as Samsungs smartphone OLED.

    Which is odd given that LG are leader in TV OLED, you would think they could put out a decent mobile display but it seems that is not the case.

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