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OK Google, stop selling the Pixel 2 XL

by Justin Herrick | October 25, 2017

UPDATE: Google has announced plans to address the issue.

Problems keep arising for the Pixel 2 XL, and Google isn’t being too transparent in its handling of them. They’re centered around the display as a large number of units are experiencing screen burn-in, image retention, blue tint, graininess, and smearing. And it seems like there’s a new issue or two with the display coming forward on a daily basis. The overall situation has reached a concerning level as customers are returning devices and canceling orders, which is definitely not what any company wants for its latest flagship.

All we know, at least for now, is that Google is actively investigating the problems. That’s not good enough, though. Google needs to immediately stop selling the phone. It cannot continue offering a premium product when there are numerous, obvious issues in one of the most important areas.

TechnoBuffalo has already advised consumers to avoid buying the Pixel 2 XL until further notice. Many other publications have done the same. There’s simply no way we can recommend an $849 phone when the display is worse than the displays on phones that cost half as much money. It’d be wrong to put the Pixel 2 XL in a positive light. Google messed up, and the company must face the consequences. Customers are sending units back and the media is modifying reviews to say the Pixel 2 XL is a broken, incomplete device.

The public, however, can only do so much. Confidence is being lost with every day that goes by without an explanation. Both consumers and the media deserve transparency from Google, but they’re not getting that. So it’d be best if Google temporarily halted sales of the phone as it figures out the issues, fixes the problems, and offers a solution to those affected by them. If Google doesn’t understand what caused everything to go downhill for the Pixel 2 XL’s display, that’s fine. But it should be updating us throughout the investigation.

Realize that these issues cannot be solved by a software update. Google won’t be rolling out a magical fix over-the-air to make us happy. The screen burn-in, image retention, blue tint, graininess, and smearing are related to the OLED panel.

Aside from manufacturing the Pixel 2 XL, LG is behind the display.

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Google invested nearly $1 billion in the development of OLED technology. The massive amount of money would be used by LG to create a best-in-class display for the Pixel 2 XL. Expectations were high, but they were certainly reasonable. LG’s display-making division is successful and has created beautiful screens for phones and televisions. Why would a large investment from Google result in anything different? We don’t yet know why, but Google can’t be happy.

First, there were complaints about the color accuracy on the Pixel 2 XL’s display. Owners of the phone pointed out the screen looked very cold, and colors didn’t quite pop as they should. That’s not entirely the OLED panel’s fault. Google implemented sRGB mode on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, and there’s no way to turn it off. The Pixel and Pixel XL from 2016, though, have a switch for it. A future software update will likely make sRGB mode on the new phones optional.

Neither Google nor LG can do anything software-related for the other complaints. What you see is what you get. The problems are in the manufacturing process, which falls on LG. Still, Google should’ve performed its own series of quality checks as phones were being produced. So it’s both Google and LG who dropped the ball here.

It’s not anywhere near as severe, but the company’s ongoing crisis management reminds me of what happened to Samsung in 2016. Sure, batteries aren’t exploding and people aren’t being harmed. There are, however, enough problems that should make you think it’s time to halt sales. Samsung waited a month to recall the Galaxy Note 7 and almost three months to discontinue the product. Google, too, looks like it’ll keep milking sales despite understanding there’s no way out except to get customers to return their phones and have LG fix the OLED panels.

Of course, Google doesn’t have to discontinue the Pixel 2 XL. It just needs to pull the phone until LG gets its act together. That’s not hard, though Google would be losing out on a ton of revenue.

Imagine this happened with Apple’s iPhone X, and maybe it could happen as Samsung is making a custom OLED panel for that phone. If Apple experienced the same situation, the company would move so fast to end sales and fix the problems before reintroducing the product. That’s because Apple is held to a sky-high standard.

Google wants to be like Apple, and to do so it needs to be held to an equal standard in which errors are acknowledged and dealt with right away. Currently, Google comes across as a greedy company caring more about sales than customers amid the world telling them there are glaring issues.

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Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...