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Google Pixel 2 "black smearing," "clicking," and speaker volume issues reported

Further complaints regarding Google's new phones are hitting the internet, including another display irregularity and some audio problems.

Published onOctober 24, 2017

The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

Another day, another round of Pixel 2 problems. Google’s latest handsets were released last week and, seeing that they’re the major flagships from the Android maker itself, they’ve since been under the microscope. To briefly bring you up to speed, some tech critics found potential screen burn-in on the Pixel 2 XL — claims which Google has said it is now investigating — which followed previous complaints regarding the display, notably that the colors were dull and that it may show some blotchiness/distortion in certain low-light circumstances.

Now, Android Police reports that many users are encountering strange noises on their handset, while a further screen-related problem has cropped up.

Google Pixel 2 shipment dates slipping to November for some buyers
The Google Pixel 2.

Beginning with the audio, there are dozens of reports hitting the internet about high-pitched noises and clicking from the Pixel 2 when it’s next to a person’s ear. This has appeared in the Google product forums — the company is aware of it — and it seems to be mostly affecting the HTC-made standard Pixel 2 rather than the Pixel 2 XL (the latter of which has received the bulk of the criticism so far).

Switching off NFC seems to help with the clicking issue, but the high-pitched sounds remain. One Google staff member did note, however, that this would be addressed in a patch coming up next week. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, 9to5Google found audio problems of its own, stating that the audio output on one of its Pixel 2 XL units differs from the top and bottom speaker. This, according to one of the website’s sources, was a deliberate choice by the Pixel 2 XL engineers in an attempt to remove a device vibration caused by the top speaker.

Rather than reducing the volume of both speakers and have the overall device volume a little quieter, they apparently just reduced the top one. 9to5Google said that the bottom/right speaker is, on average, around 10 dB louder than the left/top speaker, but that many people might not notice it (it’s not yet clear how many devices this particular problem affects).

We take all reports of issues very seriously, and our engineers investigate quickly. We will provide updates as soon as we have conclusive data. - Google

These sound problems arrive in addition to a “black smear” issue on the Pixel 2 XL that’s now being discussed online. Black smearing has been documented on OLED displays previously, and it occurs when the screen transitions from black pixels to colored pixels — like when scrolling on a page with black objects.

The effect is that the black parts of the on-screen images tend to linger before changing to the colored parts, making it appear as if the black area has been smeared. See it in the tweet below.

Let’s play a fun game called “watch a Pixel 2 XL become a blue blob on a Pixel 2 XL”
— Stephen Hall (@hallstephenj) October 24, 2017

This is another development that more casual Pixel users may not notice, but in a statement to 9to5Google (in its article on the matter), a Google spokesperson said: “We take all reports of issues very seriously, and our engineers investigate quickly. We will provide updates as soon as we have conclusive data.”

In one final piece of unfortunate news for the Pixel 2, it has been reported that a Pixel 2 unit was sold to a customer “As New” despite failing testing due to cosmetic damage. How the mix up happened isn’t clear, though the customer is to receive a replacement device and $10 Google Play credit for the inconvenience.

All told, it’s another worrying set of discoveries for the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, and it’s unlikely to be the last we hear about them. What are your current thoughts on the Pixel 2 problems? Let us know in the comments.

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