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Google rolls out UI changes to prevent Pixel 2 XL screen burn-in

Some have noticed signs of screen burn-in with their Pixel 2 XL units and Google has been actively investigating these reports. It attempted to reassure consumers with a warranty extension as rivals moved to exploit this weakness, but the company still refuses to admit to screen burn-in problems. It looks like this intransigence could backfire on Google, as a law firm recruits Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL users for a Class Action lawsuit against Google, HTC and LG. Now, Google is rolling out a software update to help prevent burn-in, but it's unclear whether that will be effective.

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Google feels the burn and begins investigating

Alex Dobie of Android Central was the first to report seeing evidence of screen burn-in, and since his initial post on Twitter, others have confirmed seeing the same. You can see the apparent burn-in when the screen is set to display a solid grey background, as the navigation buttons on the bottom are still faintly visible. If you have a Pixel 2 XL already, you can check your unit by following the directions here. It seems that the smaller Pixel 2 is not affected.

Google is already investigating these reports of possible screen burn-in on Pixel 2 XL units, saying in a statement that it puts all of its products through "extensive quality testing before launch and in the manufacturing of every unit. We are actively investigating this report". We'll update you when more information is released. In the meantime, it's important to keep in mind that we might not be seeing a worst-case scenario here. As suggested by Dieter Bohn at The Verge, this could be non-permanent image retention or 'ghosting'. And it might not happen with every unit. 

Warranty length doubled, but screen coverage dubious

Google announced that it would double the length of the warranty on the new smartphone to two years. This was seen as move to assuage fears among consumers after reports of phantom images lingering on Pixel 2 XL screens when no longer actively displayed.

It's not clear just how seriously Google is taking the issue. The Pixel 2 XL warranty doesn't actually mention the phone's 6-inch OLED screen and in a pair of blog posts, Google indicates that the burn-in defect that's causing so much concern isn't covered by the warranty.

Google claims that it will evaluate claims on a case-by-case basis, and that users who experience display defects should still contact its customer service for a resolution. No doubt Google is being cagey about screen issues in order to safeguard its reputation in the crucial holiday season, especially if it's only affecting a small number of units.

What Google seems to be most hesitant to admit is the possibility that screen burn-in is something that affects the Pixel 2 XL especially. It is, after all, an issue that has been reported with other rival flagship smartphones, and Google does not believe the Pixel 2 XL is particularly vulnerable.

Anyone looking to get the display issues addressed through their warranty would also have prove that it affects their day-to-day use of the phone. If you have to work to cause it, than that's out of warranty.

Similarly, Google is avoiding outright committing to treating other display related concerns such as blue shift or dull colors as defects.

Google might not want to admit the scale of the problem until it can be absolutely sure, but it still wants customers to know that you can contact them if you're having any kind of issue with the Pixel 2 or XL version.

This leaves customers in an awkward situation. The Pixel 2 XL screen issues could very rare, or they could only be noticeable by discerning display junkies, but, since Google won't officially admit the issue even exists, you're at the mercy of their customer support if you are affected by the issue, without a guarantee.

It remains to be seen just how widespread these issues could be, and how well Google's customer service handles it.

Google could face a Class Action lawsuit over Pixel 2 XL flaws

Google's refuses to address the issue head-on could have some legal consequences for the company. A law firm by the name of Girard Gibbs LLP is already looking to recruit Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL owners to join a prospective Class Action suit. Once certified by a judge, the Class Action suit would consolidate the individual law suits filed over the display issues from all over the country.

Girard Gibbs LLP has experience filing Class Action suits against smartphone manufacturers, having previously taken on LG for bootstrap issues with the LG G4 and the LG V10, and sued Motorola for $5 million over mishandled warranty claims. Now, they're gathering disappointed consumers for one against Google, HTC, and LG (HTC made the Pixel 2 while LG manufactured the Pixel 2 XL).

The complaints from various customers include alleged clicking and whistling sounds coming from the handset and black smears on the display, in addition to the particularly worrying screen burn-in issue.

While this is going on, Samsung has taken what appears to be a cheeky dig at their rivals by releasing a video ad compilation of various YouTubers and tech influencers praising Samsung’s displays. Given Google's embarrassing screen issues with Pixel 2 XL, it's probably no coincidence that Samsung has decided to remind the tech community how good the Galaxy displays are. You can check out the video below:

Ouch. Looks like the Pixel 2 XL display isn't the only place Google will have to check for burns.

Google addresses issue with November update

Though the company still hasn't said outright that burn-in is affecting these units, Google is responding to customer concerns by rolling out some changes with the November software update. These UI tweaks 'fade out' buttons on the navigation bar to decrease the chance of burn-in and adjust the maximum brightness of the OLED display. On another note, a Saturated color mode was also added to enhance the vibrancy of the colors. You can read about the other changes here. Whether or not the UI changes will actually prevent burn-in is unknown, but we will keep an eye on the issue.

We'll have to wait and see if this really turns out to be burn-in and how widespread the issue is. But, if that is indeed the case, it could certainly be a deal breaker for many who are looking to buy a Pixel 2 XL until Google works out a solution. Be sure to check out our round up of the best alternatives to the new Pixel phones if you're considering making a purchase soon.

Opinion by Brittany McGhee
At $849, even the possibility of screen burn-in is a deal breaker for now
What do you think?
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What do you think of this issue? Are you seeing signs of burn-in already? Does the warranty extension reassure you? Let us know in the comments!

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  • Apple has the same issues on it's new iPhoneX


    • Yup, and has put out press releases saying both burn in and blue color shift from the side are "normal" for OLED displays.


  • The reality is that Pixel phones are lumped into the "other phones" category when it comes to market share. The fact that they get so much publicity, good or bad, with regard to Pixel phones is only because they're Google. And, that's the only reason stories about Pixel phones are interesting. If this were Oppo or Moto or LG no one would care.


  • Color shift at different angles is not a concern, but I'd be mad at screen burn in.
    I've never had burn in on any phone display and for $1k, I'd better not.


  • little ironic but the Android Pit app which has a full screen mode ie no nav bar is one of the best ways to check for "burn in"...
    which I've seen on every device with an oled/amoled screen that has on screen navigation.. including the new Pixel xl2 and it's definitely burn in and not image retention..


  • The warranty doesn't cover burn-in.


  • For 950.00 USD plus tax I don't think I would want a good display, I would expect a great display. This is not a 500.00 dollar were talking about. Yes, buttery smooth performance & a great camera & excellent updates. Still I enjoy the headphone jack, wireless & micro s/d support. It just seems like a whole lot of money minus 3 premium features I do enjoy. For myself, I just can't justify this offering!


  • Be calm. All phones, especially specimens, have bored screens ... Because a static image over a long period makes the pixels smoother. The Play has applications for such cases, with quick lighting in different colors curing the display. ;-) Not guaranteed at 100 percent, but is an option.

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