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

We take a look at some of the common problems that Google Pixel and Pixel XL owners come across, and offer potential solutions on how to fix them!

Published onDecember 18, 2017

Late last year Google moved into the premium smartphone space with their latest smartphone offerings, the Pixel and the Pixel XL. The new devices, designed from the ground up by Google, are priced to compete directly with the current flagships from Apple and Samsung, and come with some great features, like the Google Assistant.

Even a year later, if you are looking for the best that Android has to offer, it doesn’t get more Google than the Pixel and Pixel XL.

However, as is the case with any smartphone or tablet, the Pixel and Pixel XL are not without their issues. If you have come across any of them, we’re here to help you out, with this roundup of some of the common Google Pixel problems, and offer potential solutions on how to fix them!

Disclaimer: Not every Pixel and Pixel XL smartphone will have these issues, and in fact, it is more than likely that you won’t come across any of these problems at all. 

Google Pixel problem #1 — Screen auto-rotate not working

google pixel xl initial review aa (39 of 48) display problem Screen auto-rotate not working

Some have found that the auto-rotate feature does not work as expected even though the setting is enabled.

Potential solutions:

  • A rogue app may be causing this issue. To check if this is the case, boot the device in Safe Mode (you can find how to do so below), and see if the problem persists. If it doesn’t, a recently-installed application may be causing the issue. Uninstall any apps that were added just before the problem started, and see if that fixes it.
  • This could also be an issue with the accelerometer and G-sensor as well. Download an app from the Google Play Store like GPS & Status Toolbox and re-calibrate the sensors, and see if that fixes it. If this proves to be a hardware issue, the only option will be to pick up a replacement.
  • A temporary workaround that has worked for some is using a third-party app, such as Rotation Control, that will let you manually trigger the switch to the landscape orientations.

Google Pixel problem #2 — Text messages not working

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Some users have found that they are unable to send or receive text messages on their new Pixel or Pixel XL.

Potential solutions:

  • This issue has been faced mostly by users who have switched to the Pixel from the iPhone, and is related to iMessage. If you still have your old iPhone, go to Settings – Messages and turn off iMessage. If you have already sold it, you will need de-register the number from iMessage. You can do so here.
  • Make sure that you haven’t accidentally blocked some users. Open the Messenger app and open the additional menu by tapping on the three vertical dots at the top right corner. Open Blocked Contacts and see if there are any numbers that aren’t supposed to be there.

Google Pixel problem #3 — Delayed notifications

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Some users have come across delayed notifications, with notifications coming in a few hours late sometimes. This is usually related to email and messaging apps running in the background.

Potential solutions:

  • This issue seems to be caused by the new active Doze mode that is available with the Pixel and Pixel XL to help get a lot more out of your battery life. However, it looks like it results in notifications not arriving, or getting delayed. Until the apps are updated to address this problem, you may be better off removing these apps, like Gmail, Whatsapp, and more, from the list of apps that are optimized. Go to Battery – Settings (three vertical dots) – Battery Optimization, open the All apps section from the drop down menu, go to the relevant app, and tap on “Don’t optimize.” So far, users have reported that this doesn’t affect battery life significantly either.

Google Pixel problem #4 — Microphone issues

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Some users have come across issues with the device microphone, with people at the other of the line unable to hear anything during calls.

Potential solutions:

  • Toggling the speakerphone while on a call seems to work.
  • A reboot seems to temporarily fix the problem, but this is another software issue that will be fixed.
  • Google has recently acknowledged that the problem with the microphone goes beyond just a software bug, in which case, the only option you will have is to pick up a replacement.

Google Pixel problem #5 — Issues that will be fixed with future software updates

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There are some problems that do not have any workarounds or solutions available, and the only option is to wait for a software update.

  • Picture-in-picture issue: Users have found that the device tends to reboot when attempting to use the picture-in-picture mode. The only option for now is to stop using this feature until an official software update can fix this problem.
  • Android 8.0 Oreo issues: Some users have come across a variety of issues after updating their device to Android 8.0 Oreo. These include data, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS connectivity, microphone issues, and random reboots. The upcoming update to Android 8.1 Oreo should help address some of these problems.

Google Pixel problem #6 — Connectivity issues

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As is the case with any new device, you may find yourself facing some connectivity issues with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Potential solutions:

Wi-Fi issues

  • Turn the device and the router off for at least 10 seconds, then turn them back 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 delete all prior pairings and try setting them up again from scratch.
  • When it comes to issues with multiple device connection, only a future update will be able to address this problem.

Google Pixel problem #7 — Android Messages app showing blank threads

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Some users are finding that the threads in the Android Messages app are now blank and not showing any messages after the last app update.

Potential solutions:

  • The next software update for the app should fix this issue.
  • Go to Settings – Apps and tap on Messages. Then tap on Disable App and confirm if it asks to reset back to the factory version. Now tap on both Clear Cache and Clear Data, and enable the app again. All your messages in the app should now appear. You can once again update the app on the Google Play Store to the latest version as well and the problem will not re-appear.

Google Pixel problem #8 — Contacts not showing on Google Voice after Oreo update

Even if the app has the permission to access Contacts, users have found that the contact list is not being populated on Google Voice after the official update to Android 8.0 Oreo.

Potential solutions:

  • Go to Settings – Users & Accounts and delete your Google account. Then add the same account once again and tap on Account Sync. Wait until the sync is completed, which may take a while. Go to the Google Voice app and add the account again. The contact list should now show up as expected.

Google Pixel problem #9 — Home and Recent Apps keys not working

When tapping on a notification in the notification shade, users have found that the device restarts. After that, the Home and Recent apps keys don’t function at all. Touches are being registered, and the back button works as expected though. Some users have also found that you cannot install apps from the Google Play Store anymore.

Potential solutions:

  • Some users have found that a Factory Reset helps address this problem. This has proven to only be a temporary solution though, with the issue coming back after a week or so.
  • A workaround is available by using the Nova Launcher.
    • Either download the app from the Google Play Store, and in case that is not possible, you can find the apk by searching for it on Google.
    • Open the launcher. You can also set it as default.
    • Press and hold on any empty space on the Home screen and tap on Widgets. Find Activities by scrolling across the options in the first section. Drag it onto the Home screen.
    • On the page that opens, scroll down to and tap on Setup Wizard. Then press and hold SetupWizardUpgradeActivity.
    • Complete the setup options and everything should go back to working as expected.
    • This may seem like an odd solution, but it has worked to not only fix the issue with the navigation keys, but also to help download apps from the Google Play Store.

Guides — Hard reset, Safe Mode, turning on LED notification, new Ambient Display features

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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 – erase all data 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

Enabling notification LED

  • Go to Settings – Notifications.
  • Tap on the gear icon at the top right corner.
  • Turn on Pulse notification light.
  • To get more control over the notification LED, download an app like Light Flow from the Google Play Store.

New Ambient display features

  • Google has introduced two new features to make the Ambient Display even better, including the double-tap to check phone, and lift to check phone.
  • Go to Settings – Moves and turn on the new settings.

So, there you have it. That’s our roundup of some of the common problems faced by Google Pixel and Pixel XL owners, and the potential solutions to fix them. We will continue to update this list as more issues and solutions come up. If you have come across any others, do let us know in the comments section below.

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Until then, don’t let this small list of problems deter you from picking up one of the best Android smartphones currently available. All of these issues are software related and will be fixed in upcoming updates, and timely software updates is one of the best parts of owning a Google device. Know of any other Google Pixel or Google Pixel XL problems that we didn’t cover? Tell us about them in the comments!

Read Next: Google Pixel 2’s squeezable Active Edge might make its way to the Pixel 3

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