Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL problems, and what to do about them

Some Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL phones are not sending or receiving text messages

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL problems
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends

Google’s Android poster boy boasts the slickest software experience around wrapped in a stylish body, which is why our Pixel 2 XL review called it the best Android smartphone in the world. Its smaller sibling, the Pixel 2, is no slouch either, but as great as these phones are, they’re not quite pixel-perfect. We’ve been lurking on forums, digesting comments, and conducting our own testing to find the most common issues with the Pixel 2 and identify the tricky Pixel 2 XL problems that you’ll want fixes for. This is what we found.

Bug: Not receiving multimedia/text messages

No matter how many new features are added to smartphones and how advanced they become, they should always be able to function as phones. So it’s pretty darn annoying when your Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL starts having issues with that basic functionality. Quite a few users on Google’s forums have reported having issues with their Pixel 2 phones not sending or receiving text messages.

It seems that the issue predominantly affected phones with AT&T, and while some early posts postulated that AT&T were to blame, it became apparent that the culprit was instead a faulty APN (access point name) entry in the phone options.

Solutions:

  • Most users are reporting that the April update for the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL has fixed these problems by deleting the faulty APN causing the issue. If you’re experiencing issues with messages not being delivered, make sure your phone has been updated to the most recent patch. You can check that you’re up to date via Settings > System > System update.
  • If you’re still having the issue despite the update, deleting the faulty APN can give temporary relief, but the fault will return after the phone reboots. Your best course of action is to contact Google directly. It seems, however, that the March 27 patch has fixed the issue, as no users have reported issues after this patch.

Bug: Rapid battery drain

Running into issues with battery life is common and it’s usually down to a rogue app. Some Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL owners seem to have run into a serious rapid battery drain problem recently, but the cause is unclear. Reported on the Google support forum, at Reddit, and at the XDA Developer’s forum, this battery drain may be linked to the recent software update from Google itself. It looks as though Google Play Services may be the culprit and Google is collecting bug reports to further investigate.

Workarounds:

  • Go to Settings > Apps & notifications > See all apps and find Google Play Services. Some people report temporary success after clearing the cache and data, but the problem may return. You can also try uninstalling updates for Google Play Services, but most people report that they will automatically install themselves again, so it’s another temporary solution.
  • Some people report that turning Wi-Fi off has solved the battery drain problem, but this is obviously not a useful long-term solution.

Potential solution:

  • It’s worth trying safe mode, so press and hold your Power button, then tap and hold on Power off until you see Reboot to safe mode. When your device restarts it should say safe mode at the bottom left. Test for a while to see if the battery drain is gone. If this works there’s a chance that a third-party app is to blame, perhaps acting through Google Play Services. You could try uninstalling apps one by one and testing again or you could factory reset and reinstall selectively. If you do decide to factory reset, then test the phone for a while before reinstalling any apps to confirm that the problem is gone.

Issue: Pixel 2 XL is slow to unlock with the fingerprint scanner

This issue seems to be linked to the Android 8.1 Oreo update that rolled out recently, with many Pixel 2 XL users taking to the Google forums and Reddit to complain of an increase in lag between using the fingerprint scanner and the phone unlocking. One user took a video, showing an unaffected Pixel 2 XL side by side with an affected one. It seems that not all Pixel 2 XL units have been affected by the bug, but there are certainly enough for Google to take notice. The Pixel 2 and original Pixel phones do not seem to be affected by this bug at all.

Solution:

  • Google is aware of the problem, and while a fix has not been confirmed yet, it’s likely this will be fixed in a patch. Meanwhile, Reddit users have noted that enabling the Always On display fixes the issue.

Issue: Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL reboots randomly

Over the last few weeks, users have been complaining their Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL devices have been randomly powering off or rebooting. The timing of the reboots seems to be random, and although some users have determined that their LTE connection was to blame, others have suffered the issue while using a Wi-Fi connection.

Solution:

  • Thankfully, Google seems to have pinpointed the issue, and posts regarding this issue in the Google product forums have received replies stating an update will be rolled out in the coming weeks. So be patient, make sure you run all of your currently available updates, and the issue should be solved with a patch. You can check that you’re up to date via Settings > System > System update.

Issue: Screen burn-in

There was a fair bit of controversy about the screen of the Pixel 2 XL, prompting Google to extend the warranty to two years. We deal with the most common complaints in the next entry, but there have also been reports of screen burn-in, notably from Android Central. Some people are seeing the ghostly image of some elements, like the navigation buttons, remaining on screen after they should be gone. It’s more noticeable in certain backgrounds.

Solution:

  • In its November update, Google lowered the maximum screen brightness, gave users three display color issues, and made the navigation bar fade when not in use, all to address burn-in issues. Update your phone and you should be good to go.
  • You can find a statement on the Google forum that addresses these issues. Google is extending the warranty on the Pixel 2 XL to help make amends.
  • If you are seeing burn-in on your Pixel 2 XL screen, then you should contact Google, your carrier, or retailer and ask about a replacement handset.

Problem: Pixel 2 XL screen quality

Some people are having serious issues with the display in the Pixel 2 XL. You can find detailed discussions at the XDA Developers forum and the Android Central forum. The chief complaint seems to be about the color, which is less vibrant than expected. We noted in our Pixel 2 XL review that the pOLED screen has an issue with a bluish tint when you tilt it, however, we didn’t find the cooler color temperature to be a major issue. There have also been reports of problems with grain or blotches, explained in detail by Ars Technica, but we aren’t seeing it as a big problem on our review unit.

Potential solutions:

  • In its November update, Google has given users three display color options — Boosted, Natural, and Saturated. If you have a problem with the colors on your display, you probably want to go with the Saturated option. To choose this option, head to Settings > Display > Advanced, where you should be able to change the display settings. If you don’t see them yet, update your phone and you should be good to go.
  • While the color temperature is a tuning issue and a deliberate move by Google, we don’t think your display should be blotchy or grainy. If you have serious issues with inconsistent color or blotchy patches then you may have been unlucky and received a less than perfect panel. Contact Google, your carrier, or retailer and ask about a replacement handset.

Issue: Screen flashes when locking and unlocking phone

Some users on the Pixel User Community are reporting intermittent flashes when locking and unlocking their phones.  Some users have even reported flashes when booting their phones.

Potential Solution:

  • Some users have reported temporary success by toggling the Ambient Display option on and off. Tap Settings > Battery > Ambient Display. In the Ambient Display  screen, toggle the Always On slider.

Issue: Portrait Mode not working for selfies

There have been some reports of people struggling to get Portrait Mode working when they’re using the front-facing camera to take a selfie. Thankfully, it should be a relatively easy fix. Google is rolling out a camera update that includes Portrait Mode support for the front-facing camera.

Solution:

  • Make sure that you’re connected to Wi-Fi and that your Pixel 2 has plenty of battery life. Open the Play Store and tap the menu icon at the top left (three horizontal lines). Tap My apps & games and install any available updates. If you’re reading this on your Pixel 2, then you can also try updating directly via the Camera app in the Play Store.

Glitch: Clicking sound and high-pitched frequency noise during calls

A few people are experiencing problems with the audio on their Pixel 2 during calls. Some people report a clicking or ticking sound, others are complaining about a high-pitched noise that’s constant, and some are suffering from both.

Solutions:

  • In its November update, Google has addressed this issue. If you’re still experiencing the issue, make sure your phone has the latest software update by heading to Settings > System > System Update and hit the “Check for Update” button.
  • You could contact Google and ask for help. Go to Settings > Support & tips and choose Phone or Chat to report your problem and get help investigating it. If they can’t fix it, then you should be able to get a replacement. However, because it’s not clear what the issue is here, you may find that a replacement handset has the same problem.

Bug: Bluetooth connection issues

There have been many reports of Bluetooth issues with the original Pixel phones since the Android 8.0 Oreo update, but there are also some Pixel 2 owners adding their voices to existing threads on the Google support forum. Some people can’t get the connection to work, others report problems with specific apps, and still others are having issues with voice commands. There was an October 5 patch designed to resolve some of these issues, but it doesn’t seem to have worked for everyone.

Potential solutions:

  • Bluetooth connectivity issues are supposed to be resolved with the Pixel 2, but the update hasn’t rolled out yet. A Google spokesperson said, “Google is aware of this issue and additional fixes are coming soon. Likely November or early December.” We have a couple of troubleshooting steps you can try while you wait for an update.
  • If you can’t connect at all, then go to Settings > Connected devices > Bluetooth and tap Settings (gear icon) next to the problem device or car and then Forget. Clear device connections from your Bluetooth accessory or car. Turn both off and on again and attempt to pair from scratch.
  • If music isn’t playing then make sure you’re connected to the right device or car, and that music isn’t playing through another connected device. Check that the volume is cranked up. Go to Settings > Connected devices > Bluetooth, then tap Settings (gear icon) next to the problem device or car and make sure the box next to Media audio is checked.
  • If the problem is with calls, then go to Settings > Connected devices > Bluetooth, then tap Settings (gear icon) next to the problem device or car and make sure the box next to Phone audio is checked.

We’ll add more Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL problems and fixes as we discover them. In the meantime, grab yourself one of the best Pixel 2 cases or Pixel 2 XL cases to make sure you don’t have a drop damage problem with yours.

Issue: Unresponsive screens

Some users are reporting unresponsive screens on the far edges of their screens, 9to5Google reports. Although the most of the screen works well, the far edges do not respond to touch.

Workaround: 

  • Google is aware of the situation and is working on a software update. In the meantime, only the far edges of the phones are affected by this problem and can easily be avoided.