If you follow the smartphone world closely you will have noticed that the new Google Pixel 2 XL is hitting the headline for all the wrong reasons. Unlike the regular, smaller Pixel 2, the larger of Google’s new phones seems to have a display deficiency.
Now the company is faced with complaints of not only blue tints from certain viewing angles, but burn-in where certain icons leave ghosting marks on the XL’s pOLED display.
Pixel 2 XL Blue tint
We reported the issue in our own review of the Pixel 2 XL:
“There's also a problem with the Pixel 2 XL: viewing angles. If you tilt the phone or look at it at an angle, whites turn blue. This isn't noticeable most of the time, but in menus and on web pages it can get annoying. And neither the Galaxy S8 nor the HTC-made Pixel 2 suffer from this problem.”
White screens on the phone can appear grey and streaky where other OLED screen display crisp whites with no distortion. The argument is, quite rightly, that all this on a £799+ phone probably isn’t acceptable.
Blue tint is avoidable on OLEDs as Samsung has proven with its Galaxy S series, but the panel in the Pixel 2 XL is an LG Display screen. It would seem that LG has not managed to calibrate the output to mainstream tastes at the very least, and at the worst has shipped a major flagship phone with a very big problem.
See below Erica Griffin, a YouTube tech reviewer, who got her hands on two Pixel 2 XLs. Both demonstrate the blue tint problem (from 5:30):
As for the quality of the screen compared to the smaller Pixel 2, see the below photo courtesy of Ars Technica. The difference is quite shocking:
Pixel 2 XL burn-in
For what it's worth, Tech Advisor's review unit doesn't display the burn-in issues experienced by the below reviewers.
Android Central’s Alex Dobie tweeted a picture of his review unit with a quite clear ghosting of the navigation bar:
That's some pretty wild OLED burn-in on the Pixel 2 XL after maybe 7 days of full-time use pic.twitter.com/EPJTs6D0Kg— Alex Dobie (@alexdobie) October 22, 2017
This issue has been widely reported and seems to affect many of the review units given out to tech reviewers over the world. We have certainly noticed blue tint and the graining problem with our model, but the so-called burn-in isn’t too marked yet.
We will update this article if that changes.
Google's VP of product management Mario Queiroz posted a response to the public issues on 26 October. He said:
"Thorough testing of the Pixel 2 XL display shows that its decay characteristics are similar to OLED panels used in comparable products. Our current investigation of burn-in, which started as soon as we received the first user report on October 22, confirms that the differential aging is in line with that of other premium smartphones and should not affect the normal, day-to-day user experience of the Pixel 2 XL."
You can read the full statement here. He insists the panels reproduce colour in the way the company intended, but says Google will push software updates soon that will allow users to change the appearance should they want to.
It remains to be seen if this will positively affect reports of burn-in.
Should you return your Pixel 2 XL?
If you have bought a Google Pixel 2 XL directly from Google, you are entitled to a refund up to 15 calendar days after you bought it, or 15 calendar days after it was shipped to you.
Return and refund terms and conditions will vary depending which retailer you bought it from, so be sure to check. It’ll be easier to return the device if it is unopened in most instances.
We can’t outright recommend one way or the other if you should return your Pixel 2 XL, but things aren’t looking great. It has the kind of display problems you might expect on a low-priced phone, let alone one so expensive and with such a high profile.