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Pixelgate? Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Reliability Issues Just Don’t Seem to Stop

By: Vishal Mathur

Last Updated: October 23, 2018, 12:49 IST

Pixelgate? Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Reliability Issues Just Don’t Seem to Stop

We still don’t know if software updates can solve these issues, but this is surely a disappointment considering how Google the new Pixel phones potentially can be.

The Google Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL cannot seem to catch a break. As it turns out, Google’s latest smartphones have some serious reliability issues.

One of the problems being reported is the familiar speaker buzzing. A lot of early adopters are taking to social media platforms including Twitter to suggest that the bottom speaker on the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL phones is producing a random buzzing noise, mostly being reported by users to be audible at mid-range frequencies being played back at low volumes. It is not immediately clear whether the louder audio drowns out the sound or eliminates it altogether, as you push up the volume. “The speaker lightly buzzes from 500-2500Hz, and buzzes very loudly at 20-500Hz. Higher volumes can drown out the buzz but it's still audible, whereas lower volumes can make things almost unlistenable. Just typing on Gboard and tapping through the UI creates a very noticeable buzz,” reports a user qtpa2tnh on Reddit, and he owns a Pixel 3 XL.

This is the second issue to befall the speakers on Google’s newest phones. Earlier, it was reported that the two speakers on the new Pixel phones don’t have the same audio output levels. Though Google did take to Reddit to clarify that this is by design, it hasn’t assuaged the fears. “Hi all, This is by design. We specially designed speakers that allow for louder sound (40% louder than last year) and better low frequency response. We use new amplifier technology with advanced speaker protection algorithms to push these speakers harder and really get every last bit of performance out of them. We also worked closely with the expert tuning of a Grammy-award winning music producer to enhance the audio in a way that plays to the strengths of the hardware system.” However, users are not convinced. “I initially thought the top speaker was busted...but no it's just noticeably quieter than the bottom one,” said a user with the handle rayw_reddit. “Pixel 3 XL owner here. I can confirm the imbalance is real. The bottom speaker is much louder and better with bass, and the top is definitely softer and slightly better with treble. It doesn't bother me much if I tell myself Google did that intentionally, but why call them "stereo?” asks another user mcnick0495.

And it isn’t just the buzzing speakers which are the problem for the new Pixel phones.

A lot of users are reporting an issue with memory management on the new Pixel phones. Apparently, the background process for certain apps that are being used at the time get stopped if the user switches to another app temporarily—this could be quite nasty with music or video streaming apps, for instance. This could be an issue with very aggressive process killing, or the fact that the phone isn’t holding more than a couple of apps temporarily in the RAM at any given point of time. That said, Google’s decision to have 4GB of RAM in the new Pixel phones is surely not the reason for this, but something more on the lines of poorly optimized task management.

The final trouble that users are reporting with the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL phones is that sometimes they do not save photos that you may have clicked using the default camera app. This is despite the fact that a little preview appears at the bottom of the screen once you tap the shutter button suggesting the photo has been saved, when it actually doesn’t show up in the list of photos later. It is not immediately known if this is a camera bug or an issue with how the Photos app integrates with the camera on the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL.

This is a bit unfortunate, considering how the Pixel 2 XL phones from last year also struggled with certain issues, such as speaker buzzing and a very muted display. The magnitude of any potential hardware or software problems just gets expanded, since the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL are largely running the same hardware, except the differing display sizes for instance, which wasn’t exactly the case in the past year.

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