The Pixel 2 XL has garnered a wave of bad press in the week since reviews first rolled out. The main issues at hand revolve around the screen, which is viewed by many as dull, and has shown symptoms of burn-in for several users.
The controversy has been reminiscent of the Note 7 fiasco of last summer, albeit at a far smaller scale and far less dangerous. Still, the quickness with which the tide turned against the 2 XL was disheartening, and raised serious questions about how bad the situation could actually get.
To its credit, Google is getting out ahead of the problem. After announcing that it was “investigating” the reports of screen burn-in and lack of vibrancy on the XL’s panel earlier this week, today the company addressed those concerns head-on and, if you’re to take Google at its word, the hubbub is all one big overreaction.
In a post on the Pixel support forums, Mario Queiroz, VP of product management, said that the Pixel 2 XL’s screen holds up just as well as other premium flagships in terms of display decay characteristics after extensive testing. He also claimed the burn-in effects are not visible under normal, everyday use, a fact that has been supported by several users and reviewers. Still, the mere fact that burn-in effects are appearing at all on a device only weeks old has many consumers that pre-ordered the device questioning their decision.
Queiroz said a software update would be released to reduce differential aging, and that the phones will now come with a two-year warranty, but the damage could already be done. Vlad Savov of The Verge noted
he’s heard disparaging conversations about the Pixel 2 among the wider public, not just techies, since the news first broke last week. I suppose the silver lining is that, unlike the Note 7, the controversy surrounding the Pixel 2 XL should not drastically affect sales given how small the available stock already is.
The second biggest concern surrounding the display was its lack of vibrance. Google largely claimed this was by design, to give a more natural look, but many users had grown accustomed to the popping colors on other Android phones, primarily from Samsung, and saw the reports of dullness as yet another knock against a display that was shaping up to be unworthy of an $850 flagship smartphone in 2017.
Queiroz said this issue will also be resolved through software. The plan is to add a new color mode, labeled “saturated”, that will up the color gamut and give a look closer to other smartphones on the market, but also one that is far less accurate.
In the end, it appears as though Google is not concerned by the bad news that has dominated the release of the Pixel 2 XL. Without directly saying so, one gets the feeling that Google thinks a lot of the complaints are just nitpicks that need to be hushed. Perhaps that’s true, perhaps it’s not. Either way, Google did the right thing by talking to the community quickly after reports first surfaced, and extensively testing the device to see if the complaints had merit. Now, we have to see if the company line is the truth, or if there is more to be revealed. Remember, there was a time when Samsung said it had fixed the Note 7 batteries, too.