Google’s new Pixel 2 XL is a great phone with a lot to like and plenty to offer, but it’s not perfect. No phone is even if some get pretty close. One big area of concern is the display, and sadly the problems keep piling up. Here’s what you need to know about Pixel 2 XL display problems or complaints, and the response from Google on the situation.
Does the Pixel 2 XL have a bad screen? Can it be fixed, and should I still buy one? Potential buyers have a lot of questions and want to know what to expect. Especially when paying $850 for a smartphone. So what’s wrong with it? A few things according to some.
Recently complaints have flooded the web about the quality of Google’s screen, a screen LG made. Reports on Reddit and XDA Developers suggest that the Pixel 2 XL’s screen has several problems. Including poor or undersaturated colors, grainy images, burn-in, and a blue tint or color shifting. Most of these aren’t actual “problems” but Google is taking steps to fix things anyway.
Google Pixel 2 XL Display Problems
When a phone is almost all screen at the front, the quality of the screen is extremely important. Which is why so many complaints are starting to surface. Without getting into whether you’ll notice these “issues” or if they’re deal-breakers, this is what you need to know.
- Color Shift (Blue Tint)
Most of the complaints have to do with a blue hue on the screen when it isn’t viewed straight on. Looking at the Pixel 2 XL at an angle the screen starts to turn blue. You see a shift in the colors if you aren’t looking straight at it. This is basically a viewing angle problem. However, it isn’t unique to the Pixel 2 XL. Other phones have this issue, like the LG V30 which uses the same 6-inch OLED display.
This is an issue on the Pixel 2 XL, but a small one. We see a similar shift at angles on any LED screen, like the original Pixel XL, and most phones. It’s worth noting that even the Galaxy S8 has some color shift. Although it’s not as severe and takes a greater angle for the colors to shift to blue. Some devices shift colors to yellow, others turn purple. Most people look directly at a phone, so this is a non-issue.
- Washed Out Unsaturated Colors
Another common complaint is the colors aren’t vibrant and look washed out on the Pixel 2 XL. Colors aren’t rich, bright and over saturated like a Samsung Galaxy S6, S7, S8 or Note 8. Samsung screens are extra saturated so colors pop, and pictures or video are rich and vibrant. This is a choice Samsung makes.
Yes, the Pixel 2 XL looks dull sitting next to the Galaxy S8+, but that’s the way Google calibrated the display. They fine-tuned it to match the common RGB color space. The problem is the Pixel 2 XL doesn’t have options to turn off this calibration or change the colors like Samsung and other manufacturers offer. So we’re stuck with RGB mode and the “Vivid colors” option in display settings don’t do much. A fix is coming, and we have more details below.
- Grainy Colors or Edge Banding
Then, we’re seeing complaints about grainy colors or banding and bleeding on the edges of the screen. If you turn the screen brightness all the way down, images have a weird grainy, textured look. You have to really look to see it, and it’s only visible under about 15-20% brightness, on some phones. The only way this is a potential problem is if someone is reading a book late at night in bed with the screen brightness turned down. Again, only a few users have this issue, so get a new Pixel 2 XL without worry.
- Screen Burn-In or Ghosting
And finally, the last complaint is potentially the worst one. Some owners have something called “burn-in” or ghosting on the Pixel 2 XL display. First noticed by AndroidCentral, burn-in is where buttons or images on the screen remain visible after you switch the screen to something else. Like leftover remnants of the on-screen keys are visible while you’re watching a video in fullscreen. The image below is a great example.
This happens on virtually all LED screens, but usually after several months or even years of usage, not just a matter of days. Things like the on-screen keys or the date get permanently “burnt” into the screen and don’t’ go away, but are barely noticeable. Google is actively investigating this issue and today confirmed the Pixel 2 XL is on par with other LED screens on the market. However, they’re taking steps to minimalize this over the life of the device.
The other problem is edge banding or backlight bleeding. We’re seeing very few comments on this here and there, but that’s about it. If more complaints begin to surface as more users get the Pixel 2 XL, we’ll update this post.
Pixel 2 XL Display Fixes
So does the Pixel 2 XL have a bad screen? No, no it does not. It’s not perfect, it’s not bad, and it’s not the best on the market. Google did some investigating and said it’s comparable to most LED screens on the market in terms of color shift, color management, and potential burn-in. Read the full report here, which also gives you a great understanding of how the Pixel 2 XL displays color, and how it will get better in the next update.
The washed out colors problem is because millions of users are coming from a Samsung device. Phones that have saturation cranked on full blast. If you remember, the Galaxy S8 had a red color problem, and they released an update that gave users full control of the color spectrum.
The sRGB color mode on the Pixel 2 XL is the problem here, and there’s no way to change to a different color mode or profile. Samsung gives users full control, and Google will release an update with similar options in the next few weeks. Adding full customization, the ability to turn off sRBG mode, and a new “saturated” mode in the display settings. This will make the Pixel 2 XL screen match the colors of the original Pixel and most phones on the market.
As for the screen burn-in problem, Google confirmed this is an issue that all LED screens face, and they’ve put in steps to minimalize it. The always-on display moves ever so slightly, every few minutes, so the same Pixels don’t stay on all day long. A similar small movement happens on the navigation buttons. Additionally, Google will let the on-screen keys switch from white to black more often, based on an apps color theme, to cut down on potential burn in later down the road. Not to mention the on-screen keys will fade to a lighter brightness when not being used, to further reduce any potential for burn-in.
Google Pixel 2 Warranty
We do have some good news out of this entire situation that got blown way out of proportion. The Pixel 2 XL screen is on par with others on the market, and Google found no evidence that screens are burning faster than they should.
However, Google is doubling the standard warranty for every Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Giving every owner a full coverage 2-year warranty, instead of one year. So if something breaks next year, or you notice burn-in, you’re covered by the extended 2-year warranty.
If you already have the Pixel 2 XL, the next step for you is waiting for a software update that’s “coming soon” according to Google. When it arrives, head to Settings > Display > and choose the new “saturated” mode, keep RGB for more accurate (but less vibrant and saturated) colors, or fully customize it to your liking.
Those who don’t own the Pixel 2 XL yet, but still want one, check out these Pixel 2 deals. It’s still a great phone, and we see no reason not to recommend it. Especially following the results of Google’s investigation into the display.
Another idea is to wait a little longer to see if more reports continue to surface. We’ll monitor the Pixel 2 XL display situation closely moving forward, and keep you posted if we see any other problems.
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