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Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL problems and how to fix them

The Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL are great devices, but they aren't without problems. Here are some of the most commonly reported issues.

Published onNovember 9, 2018

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL undoubtedly feature some of the best cameras in the smartphone space. Unfortunately, the devices, and the larger Pixel 3 XL in particular, are off to shaky start, with a slew of software and hardware issues already coming to the fore. If you’ve run into these and other issues, we’re here to help!

Here’s a roundup of some of the common Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL problems that users come across and potential solutions on how to fix them.

Note: Not every Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will have these problems. In fact, it is more than likely that your phones won’t have any issues at all.

Problem #1 – Problems where a fix via a software update is coming soon

Pixel 3 XL front

It’s not great that there are already so many Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL problems to begin with, but at the very least, quite a few will be addressed in an upcoming update. These include:

  • Random notches appearing on the screen – Enabling Developer Options on your device lets you add software notches in random locations like the top right corner and at the bottom of the screen. However, it’s a big problem when these notches start to appear randomly along the side of the screen. A reboot fixes the issue temporarily, but an upcoming software update will bring a more permanent fix.
  • Videos played on Youtube in landscape appear off-center – This isn’t a major issue but does look really bad. A fix for this problem should be available soon via an update for the Youtube app.
  • No sound is played when connected to Android Auto – No sound plays through the car speakers when the device is plugged into an Android Auto unit for some users.
  • No HDR with Netflix – While the Pixel 3 XL is capable of playing HDR content, users don’t have access to such content on Netflix. This is caused by delayed device certification and should be addressed shortly.
  • Enlarged/zoomed selfies when using Snapchat – Some users have noticed that selfies are automatically enlarged or zoomed into when using Snapchat. Snapchat is looking into this issue and should have a fix available quickly.
  • Photos are not saved – Many users have found that photos taken with the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are not being saved. Newer generation Google flagships face this issue as well, but it looks like a fix is finally in the works.

Problem #2 – UI stuck on Dark theme

Pixel 3 dark theme

Pixel 3 users have come across an issue where the Quick Settings and the volume controls remain stuck on the dark theme even when the system theme setting or the wallpaper is changed.

Potential solutions:

  • A factory reset fixes the problem but only temporarily. Some users have found that the issue seems to be related to having the dark theme enabled when using the Messages app. Open the app and open the menu by tapping on the three vertical dots at the top right corner. Tap on “Disable dark mode.” The problem then appears to go away. Of course, this isn’t a permanent solution if you like having the dark theme enabled in Messages. One is hopefully on the way.

Problem #3 – Fingerprint scanner swipe for notifications not working

pixel 3 fingerprint scanner

A nice extra feature available with the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL fingerprint scanner is the ability to use a swipe gesture to pull down the quick settings menu and the notification shade. However, quite a few users have found this feature to work only intermittently.

Potential solutions:

  • This is another known issue that will hopefully be fixed with an upcoming software update. A workaround that has done the trick is to use the tip of your finger to swipe down on the scanner. Apparently, using the pad of your finger (which you do to unlock the phone) results in this swipe gesture not working well.

Problem #4 – Distorted/buzzing sound from the speaker at lower volumes

pixel 3 xl lower speaker

As was the case with its predecessor, many users have reported hearing distorted or buzzing sounds from the speakers at lower volumes.

Potential solutions:

  • Some users have reported that this seems to be a “breaking in” issue and seems to go away after using the phone for a while.
  • However, if you find the problem to persist, a useful guide is available on XDA Developers to address this problem. This solution was for the Pixel 2 XL, but should work with the Pixel 3’s as well.

Problem #5 – Display issues

Pixel 3 XL display

The display of the Pixel 3 XL is much better when compared to its predecessor. However, there are still some Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL problems with the display. Users have still reported issues where the display has difficulty revealing details in darker areas of videos, showing blocks of black or pixelated images instead. Some users have also come across yellowish or pink tints on the display. 

Potential solutions:

  • Some users have found that simply changing display color setting seems to do the trick. Go to Settings > Display > Advanced > Colors and change the option to “Natural.”
  • A temporary fix is also available by using an app called Screen Balance, which gives you complete control over features like white balance, tint, color filters, and brightness. You can download the app from the Google Play Store here
  • As far as the yellow or pink tint on the screen is concerned, you can use the above options to make changes as well. However, users have found the pink tint to appear only around the bottom of the screen. It may be a hardware issue in this case and your only option is to pick up a replacement.

Problem #6 – Connectivity issues

pixel 3 xl problems - connectivity issues

As is the case with any new device, you may find yourself facing some connectivity issues with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL problems mainly have to do with Wi-Fi connectivity.

Potential solutions:

Wi-Fi issues

  • Turn the device and the router off for at least ten seconds. Then turn them back on and retry the connection.
  • Go to Settings > Power saving and ensure that this option is turned off.
  • Use the Wi-Fi Analyzer to check how crowded your channel is, and switch to a better option.
  • Forget the Wi-Fi connection by going to Settings > Wi-Fi and long tapping the connection you want, then selecting Forget. Re-enter the details and try again.
  • Make sure the router firmware is up to date.
  • Make sure the applications and software on the device are up to date.
  • Go into Wi-Fi > Settings > Advanced and make a note of your device MAC address, then make sure that it is allowed access in the router’s MAC filter.

Bluetooth issues

  • With issues when connecting to the car, check the manufacturer’s manual for the device and the car and reset your connections.
  • Ensure that you are not missing a vital part of the connection process.
  • Go to Settings > Bluetooth and ensure nothing needs changing.
  • Go into Settings > Bluetooth and delete all prior pairings, setting them up again from scratch.
  • When it comes to issues with multiple device connections, only a future update will be able to address this problem.

Problem #7 – Problems where the only option is to wait for a software update

Pixel 3 XL hands on

This is a list of Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL problems that don’t have any workarounds or fixes currently available, but are known issues that will hopefully be addressed with upcoming software updates.

  • Aggressive RAM managementAggressive memory management has become one of the most talked about Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL problems. The root of the issue is still unknown but many now consider the device’s 4GB of RAM to be too low. However, some definite improvements can be made with software fixes.
  • Screen stays off after a call ends – The proximity sensor does its job and by turning the screen off when you hold the phone to your ear. Users have found that the screen stays off even after the call ends and usually requires a press of the power button to wake the device again. Make sure that it isn’t a hardware issue by using an app like Sensors Multitool. This issue may also be caused if you have a tempered glass screen protector installed. However, this seems to be a software issue and a fix will hopefully be available soon.
  • Camera crashes when using third-party apps – Some users have found that the camera app crashes when using third-party apps like Snapchat.

Problem #8 – Overheating issue

google pixel 3 clearly white color design

Some Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XLs are said to be overheating while charging or video calling. This can cause a warning notification to appear and the phone to switch off.

Some heat generated during charging or using the camera for video is expected, but if it becomes excessive, you should get it checked out.

Potential solutions

  • Use the official charger supplied with your Pixel 3. Off-brand chargers can cause overheating in rare cases, but note that some users have reported overheating issues despite using the official charger.
  • As device overheating can be dangerous, we recommend talking to a Google support specialist or requesting a warranty replacement if you are concerned about your phone.

Problem #9 – Always-On Display issues

Pixel 3 owners on Reddit are reporting a screen flickering issue that pops up with the phone’s Always-On Display. You can see the problem happen in the video posted below:

Previously, a similar issue popped up with the Google Pixel 2. The problem was eventually fixed with a software update. However, at this point, Google hasn’t acknowledged this screen flickering issue for the Pixel 3 and therefore hasn’t mentioned anything about an upcoming fix.

Potential solutions

  • Wait for Google to potentially issue a software fix for this issue.
  • As of now, Google hasn’t admitted this screen flickering issue has a fix on the way, so talking to a Google support specialist or requesting a warranty replacement might be your only course of action for now.

Problem #10 – Messages disappearing

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL stood upright outdoors against brickwork.

Some Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL’s have encountered an issue with SMS messages disappearing following the November security patch update. Messages are sometimes moved into a different thread or disappear completely from the Messages app.

Potential solutions

  • Go to Settings > Apps & Notifications > Messages and hit the three dots menu button at the top right.
  • Select “uninstall updates.”
  • This will revert you to an older version of the Messages app, but it may be a temporary fix while you wait for something official from Google.

Problem #11 – Camera “fatal error” and “can’t connect to the camera” bugs

Some Pixel 3 owners have reported problems when using the default camera app and third-party alternatives. The camera apps occasionally crash and display a “fatal error” or “can’t connect to the camera” error, depending on which camera app is being used. Google is aware of the issue but we don’t know when (or if) a fix is due to roll out.

Potential solutions

  • Restarting the device is said to provide a temporary fix, though the bug may come back later.
  • Make sure you’re running the latest Android update as a fix may roll out over-the-air in future.
  • Contact a Google support specialist if problems persist.

Guides – Hard reset, boot into Safe Mode

Pixel 3 XL hands on

Hard reset:

  • Turn off the phone.
  • Hold the volume down button and power button simultaneously until the device switches on.
  • You should see Start with an arrow.
  • Tap volume down twice and the power button to enter Recovery Mode.
  • Hold the power button then press and release the volume up button.
  • Use the volume buttons to select wipe data/factory reset.
  • Choose Yes with the power button.

Safe Mode:

  • Hold the power button after ensuring the screen is on.
  • Tap and hold the Power off selection in the menu.
  • Tap OK to initiate Safe Mode.

So there you have it. If you have faced any other Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL problems, let us know in the comments section below and we will try our best to find a fix for you!

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