The Google Pixel and Pixel XL, while not as fancy looking as some other flagships, were perfect in almost every other department. Everything except the single bottom firing speaker. Even with the iPhone-esque design, which they somehow managed to make even less eye-catching, the smartphones became instant favorites of many users. Naturally, when Google announced the Pixel 2 XL this year with dual front-facing speakers and an edge to edge display it seemed like the company was listening to user complaints. The Pixel 2 XL was supposed to be the perfect Google phone. A sweet new display, Android as Google intended, and the best camera on a smartphone, period. But as soon as the device reached in the hands of the masses, several display issues started cropping up.
Last year users of Google’s smartphones were sharing the amazing pictures from the camera and the smooth software experience among other things. This year, the conversations have mostly been dominated by issues and most issues with the display. These aren’t the issues you expect when buying a $900+ smartphone, Google’s most expensive flagship. Some of the issues luckily originate from the software so they can be fixed unlike some that just are there for the long run. Not everyone is likely to face these issues either except the blue tint.
TL;DR, Android has gained color management support with Android 8.0 Oreo. As a side effect, the sRGB color stretching doesn’t happen on an OLED display anymore. This results in colors being not as saturated, though much more accurate than many users are used to. Especially users who’ve used devices with Samsung’s OLED displays which are known to saturate colors. To go into a bit of detail, when Android needed to draw the color red, it would use the maximum red value available. The OS had no idea of color space. So when it had to produce red on an OLED panel, the result generally was an “eyeball-searing red.” This changed with Android 8.0 and the OS now manages colors more accurately.
Yet, Google did add a “Vivid mode” which increases the saturation by 10% but apparently, that’s proving inadequate. The company has promised to address the issue and add a new “saturated” mode with a software update. Until then, you can find refuge in this new app called Oreo Colorizer. The app developed by Carlos Lopez, also known as ShortFuse, which solves the issue.
The app uses an invisible system overlay operating in a wide color gamut that forces the display to shift its color space. This way, you can force use of the wide color gamut on all apps with a simple toggle. The app is not available on the Play Store but you can easily get the APK from the Google Play Store. Make sure you enable Unknown sources under Settings > Security.
Screen burn-in is a pretty common issue on OLED displays. Although, this usually happens on modern smartphones only months and even years. But some Pixel 2 XL users are reporting screen burn-in on their device. This could possibly be due to the POLED panels provided by LG. Google believes this should not be an issue in day to day usage and that their screens are on par with what’s out there on any smartphone. They will still be issuing a software update addressing the issue though. This is what Google’s VP of product management Mario Queiroz had to say, in a rather long post in the Google Pixel support forums
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.
We’ve seen that navigation bar in action in the Android 8.1 Developer Preview 1 which should be out for the Pixel 2 XL officially in the coming months. There’s not much you can do about it until then but the following should help.
- Keep your display brightness low.
- Shorten your screen-off timer.
- Use Immersive Mode, where available.
- Use darker wallpapers and keep changing them every once in a while.
- Using apps, especially keyboard apps which allow a darker theme would help to an extent as well.
What all of these steps basically help accomplish is keep the LEDs on your display under less load and prevent static UI elements to stay on the screen for long.
Reddit user SchrodingersCat24 posted the above image reporting dead pixels on a brand new Pixel 2 XL. Apparently he was not the only one but fortunately, this is not a widespread issue. If you received a device with dead pixels on the display, you can download and run a pixel fixer app from the Google Play Store like Dead Pixel Test and Fix. There is no guarantee that the app will solve your problem but there’s no harm in trying. If it does not work for you, get your Pixel 2 XL replaced.
Finally, the blue tint. Users have reported seeing a blue tint on the display when seen from odd angles. It has been a while since we’ve heard anyone complain about viewing angles on a smartphone display, let alone a flagship.
This is an issue every Pixel 2 XL user will face regardless of cast, creed, color, and sex. Google does not discriminate after all. This is, unfortunately, a display issue related to the hardware, more specifically, due to the POLED display. There is absolutely nothing you or even Google can do about it with any number of software updates.