Google Pixel 2 XL 'blighted with voice messaging problems'

In the latest instalment of the Google Pixel 2XL failure report card, some users have revealed that sound levels are dramatically reduced when sent through some messaging platforms including Google Allo, WhatsApp, Instagram and Telegram.

Although Google said it's working on rectifying the issue and is hoping to address it through a patch, it's yet another upset for owners of a device plagued with problems since its release.

The flaw came to light on the Pixel User Community within Google's Product Forums. Users reported that although sound levels are fine when the recording is made on the source device, as soon as it's sent to another person, the sound becomes almost inaudible.

"I experienced the unusually low volume for outgoing voice messages in WhatsApp on two Pixel 2 XLs. The same behaviour was observed with Google Allo voice messages," one user said in the forum.

It seems the problem only affects the Pixel 2XL running on Android 8 and 8.1, but not on older models. It also seems to be an intermittent issue rather than one that affects all devices, all the time.

"Want to let you all know that we are aware of this [issue], and looking into it. I might be reaching out for bug reports and other info privately," community manager Orrin Hancock said in response to some of the users.

Users began reporting a myriad of problems with Google's flagship model of its new Pixel 2 line almost immediately following its release in October. Complaints of faded colours, black bleed, and screen burn flooded the community forums, which Google has since worked to try and correct with patches.

However, Google has said that the slight blue tint that many users reported seeing is "working as intended".

03/11/2017: Google's Pixel 2 XL shipped to some users without an OS

Google has come under fire once again over its handling of the Pixel 2 XL launch, after customers have reported receiving devices without an operating system preinstalled.

A number of angry customers have taken to Reddit over the past week to complain their new Pixel 2 XL smartphones greeted them with a black screen when turned on, followed by the error message: "Can't find valid operating system. The device will not start."

"Spent an hour on the chat with two different customer service reps and they are wanting to send me a replacement phone. Really frustrating," said one Reddit user, an issue that has then been corroborated multiple times.

The news is yet another blow to Google's flagship smartphone. Following its launch last month, users almost immediately reported seeing evidence of screen burn and faded colours on the device, while others said their screens had developed a blue tint.

"Mine shipped with a glitchy screen (blinks in and out with pixelated artifacts) and my wife's shipped without an OS," said another Reddit user. "Google is overnighting replacements and gave us a total of $35 Play store credit, but I think that's the very least they could've done in my opinion. Super unhappy, and hoping the replacements aren't defective as well."

Google has already launched an investigation into the screen defects, although it has said the blue tint effect worked as intended. However, so far there's been no update from Google on the issue of missing operating systems.

Unsurprisingly, Google now faces the possibility of a lawsuit brought by Girard Gibbs LLP on behalf of angry customers experiencing a myriad of problems with the Pixel 2 smartphone.

"Girard Gibbs is investigating claims against Google, HTC, and LG for manufacturing, marketing, and selling defective Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL phones," a statement reads on the firm's website. "Both phones have exhibited abnormalities. Owners of the more expensive Pixel 2 XL have reported that the devices' OLED screens are suffering from "burn-in"-a phenomenon where a portion of the display remains visible even after changing the screen to display something else, degrading user experience."

The firm has said it is appealing for customers to submit their evidence as part of the mounting case.

27/10/2017: Google responds to Pixel 2 XL issues, says blue tint 'working as intended'

Google has shared the first findings of its investigation into the Pixel 2 XL screen, which has been plagued with technical problems since its launch last week.

Shortly after users got their hands on the XL version of Google's latest flagship smartphone, reports began to surface showing a swathe of issues, including faded colours and images burnt into the screen.

Some users also reported that their screens had suddenly developed a blue tint, while others complained of a 'black bleed', where the black edges of images would linger as you swiped up and down.

Google said it was now investigating these issues in a post on Thursday, but claimed that early results show the displays are "as great as we hoped they would be". In spite of this, it did say a number of software updates would be released to improve the way the phone handles colours.

"We've received some feedback about the Pixel 2 XL displays not appearing as saturated as other phones," said Seang Chau, VP of engineering at Google, in a blog post. "We attribute this perception to our choice to calibrate the Pixel 2 XL for delivering natural, accurate colors, taking advantage of the new color management support in Android 8.0 Oreo.

"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 colors. So, through a software update to Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, we will soon be adding a new "saturated" color mode."

Google also said that it will continue to investigate the bleed and screen burn effects, although initial testing revealed the Pixel 2 XL screen performed "comparable to OLED panels used in other premium smartphones", something that will do little to soothe the concerns of users.

It did say it will be making changes to the UI to help mitigate screen burn effects. The bar holding the navigation buttons at the top and bottom of the device will now fade out when not in use, and the screen's maximum brightness will be reduced by 50 cd/m2, although this will be an "almost undetectable change in the observed brightness".

Interestingly, the blue tint issue reported by many users was initially missing from the report, which drew the ire of commenters and forced Google to make an update two hours later. Google's response? It's working as intended:

"We want to add some info regarding the blue tint that some of you have been asking about. 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."

To appease users, Google has extended the manufacturer's warranty of all Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL devices from one year to two, from the original date of purchase. Users still holding on to their Pixel 2 XL should expect to see improvements as part of a software update due to arrive "in the next few weeks".

In light of the technical faults, IT Pro will be revisiting its review of the Pixel 2 XL, which will include fresh display calibration tests.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.