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Google responds to Pixel 2 XL display issues

By James Lu - on 27 Oct 2017, 5:40pm

Google responds to Pixel 2 XL display issues

Following numerous complaints on Google's official Pixel support forums about the Pixel 2 XL's display, Google VP of Engineering, Seang Chau, has responded to some of the issues:

The Pixel 2 XL has muted colors

"We’ve received some feedback about the Pixel 2 XL displays not appearing as saturated as other phones. We attribute this perception to our choice to calibrate the Pixel 2 XL for delivering natural, accurate colors, taking advantage of the new color management support in Android 8.0 Oreo.

The Pixel 2 XL has a wide Display P3 color gamut. The display is calibrated to a D67 white point. D67 refers to a color temperature of 6700 K. A D65 value (6500 K) corresponds to the color of the average midday light in Northern Europe, so the Pixel display errs ever so slightly on the blue side (users generally perceive the screen more “fresh” this way, probably because in the real world a yellow hue often indicates something has aged).

Out of the box, the Pixel 2 XL display defaults to sRGB + 10%. This is the sRGB gamut, expanded by 10% in all directions to make it slightly more vibrant. Humans perceive colors as less vibrant on smaller screens, such as on a smartphone, so we chose this for aesthetic reasons.

Color mode is really a user choice. Many users prefer accurate colors; others prefer more saturated colors. What we’ve found is that you can become acclimatized to either.

While we didn't feel that colors on the Pixel 2 XL looked particularly bad, it is interesting that Google opted to err towards "the blue side" to make the screen appear more "fresh" rather than go for a more neutral white balance. It's also worth noting that a lot of research suggests blue light is generally bad for your eyes, which is why many people use blue light or night shift filters on their phone displays.


The Pixel 2 XL has a very noticeable blue tint when viewed off angle

"We want to add some info regarding the blue tint that some of you have been asking about. The slight blue tint is inherent in the display hardware and only visible when you hold the screen at a sharp angle. All displays are susceptible to some level of color shift (e.g. red, yellow, blue) when viewing from off angles due to the pixel cavity design. Similar to our choice with a cooler white point, we went with what users tend to prefer and chose a design that shifts blue."

Speaking from personal experience, off-angle color shifting is a problem I haven't seen for many years. Generally speaking, all modern displays, whether they're LCD or OLED-based, have perfect off-angle views - you sometimes see a slight drop in brightness when viewing a display off angle, but colors usually remain the same. The blue shift on the Pixel 2 XL is very noticeable and I find it interesting that Google seems to be claiming that the blue color shift is a design choice.


The Pixel 2 XL suffers from screen burn-in

"All OLED screens exhibit a degree of image retention (short-term) or burn-in (permanent) over their lifetime, starting the moment they are first powered on. This is also sometimes referred to as “differential aging” in the display industry. It appears as a faint outline of content on the screen from a previously displayed graphic.

We’ve received reports of Pixel 2 XL devices exhibiting image retention on the screen and have been actively investigating them. Extensive testing of the Pixel 2 XL display show that its decay characteristics are comparable to OLED panels used in other premium smartphones. The differential aging should not affect the user experience of the phone, as it’s not visible under normal use of your Pixel 2 XL. We understand, however, that it can be concerning to see evidence of aging when using a specialized display test app, so we've taken steps to reduce differential aging through software.

We designed the UI of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL to mitigate this phenomenon from being seen by the user over the lifetime of the phone. We are continuously updating our software to safeguard the user experience and to extend the life of the OLED display. This means finding ways to ensure consistent, predictably placed, high-contrast, efficient layouts without aging the display unnecessarily. For example, the always-on-display lock-screen moves the clock in a subtle zig-zag pattern on every minute boundary. It’s almost imperceptible yet it ensures that the same pixels do not stay lit persistently.

We’re currently testing a software update that further enhances protections against this issue by adding a new fade-out of the navigation bar buttons at the bottom of the Pixel screen after a short period of inactivity. In addition, we're working with more apps to use a light navigation bar to match their app's color scheme. The update will also reduce the maximum brightness of the Pixel 2 XL by a virtually imperceptible 50 cd/m2 (nits), thereby significantly reducing load on the screen with an almost undetectable change in the observed brightness.

While it's true that burn-in can be an issue on any display, the fact that people are reporting burn-in issues on a device that only just came out is a concern. How bad will the burn in be on your Pixel 2 XL six months or a year from now?


The Pixel 2 XL has a high-pitched clicking sound when the screen is on and unlocked

Some users have also reported a "high pitch frequency sound and clicking when the screen is on and unlocked."

Google community manager, Orrin, replied, "We are validating a software update to address faint clicking sounds on some Pixel 2 devices. The update will be made available in the coming weeks. The clicking noise being reported does not affect the performance of your device but if you find it bothersome you can temporarily turn off NFC in Settings > Connected devices > NFC."

Personally, I did not experience this issue, but it does call into question Google's ability to make high-end hardware. No phone should be producing a high-pitched clicking sound when held up to your ear.

Read Next: Our Google Pixel 2 XL review

Source: Google

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