Ever since launch, Google Pixel 2 XL reviewers and customers have reported issues with the phone’s OLED screen. Specifically, we’ve heard about issues with the color reproduction, and worrying tales of screen burn-in after just a few days.

Google has finally issued a statement with the results of its investigation into the issue, and what it’s doing to fix. In short, Google stands by its screen, and will only be issuing a few software updates down the line to help mitigate problems. 

It addresses both issues separately. On color saturation, it’s saying that it deliberately set the Pixel 2 XL up for “more natural and accurate rendition of colors” (it’s a feature, not a bug!), but there’s a software update coming to give users the option to increase saturation:

We know that some people prefer more saturated colors, so both Pixel 2 phones already include an option to boost colors by 10% for a more vivid look. And based on the recent feedback, we’re adding a new mode for more saturated colors, which will be made available via a software update to both Pixel 2 phones in the next few weeks.

The screen burn-in is the more serious of the two issues raised with the phone. In testing, an Android Central reviewer noted “wild” burn-in after a week of use:

Despite what reviewers have said, and regardless of side-by-side comparisons between the Pixel 2 XL’s screen and the OLED screen on other smartphones, Google says that the burn-in is “in line with that of other premium smartphones”:

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. Regardless, we use software to safeguard the user experience and maximize the life of the OLED display, and we’ll make ongoing software updates to optimize further.

The one thing Google is doing to set users’ mind at ease is offer a two-year warranty with every phone sold worldwide. That will help with anyone who experiences burn-in down the line, as we hope that Google will be willing to swap those phones out — although the statement Google gave implies that burn-in isn’t a serious problem, so we’ll have to wait and see how the returns department treats burn-in.

The full statement Google gave is below:

tl;dr: We’re very confident that the Pixel 2 delivers an exceptional smartphone experience, and to give users peace of mind, every Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will now come with a 2-year warranty worldwide.

On October 4, we announced Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, our new 5” and 6” smartphones with beautiful, high-resolution OLEDdisplays; all-day battery that charges super fast; easy access to an even more capable Google Assistant; and, the world’s highest rated smartphone camera, along with free, unlimited storage for all of your photos and videos. We’ve been excited by the positive response from many of you and reviewers who have praised the new Pixel 2 phones.

Since launch, we’ve also received reports of suspected issues related to the Pixel 2 XL display. We take these reports very seriously and wanted to provide an update. First, there’s been some feedback about the Pixel 2 XL displays not appearing as vibrant as other phones, and in the past few days, there have been a small number of reports of differential aging (also referred to as “burn-in”) on the Pixel 2 XL’s pOLED screen.

On the topic of color saturation, we designed the Pixel 2 XL to take advantage of multiple facets of the innovative new pOLED technology, including QHD+ resolution with 538 pixels per inch and a wide color gamut. One of our design intents was to achieve a more natural and accurate rendition of colors. We know that some people prefer more saturated colors, so both Pixel 2 phones already include an option to boost colors by 10% for a more vivid look. And based on the recent feedback, we’re adding a new mode for more saturated colors, which will be made available via a software update to both Pixel 2 phones in the next few weeks.

Regarding differential aging, we put all of our products through extensive quality assurance before launch and in the manufacturing of every unit. 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. Regardless, we use software to safeguard the user experience and maximize the life of the OLED display, and we’ll make ongoing software updates to optimize further.

We’re very confident that the Pixel 2 delivers an exceptional smartphone experience, and to give users peace of mind, every Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will now come with a 2-year warranty worldwide.

If you’re interested in digging into more of the technology, more details are available here. We provide detail about the engineering of the Pixel 2 XL’s pOLED display, in tight coupling with Android 8.0 Oreo, for natural and accurate colors; we describe differential aging artifacts in OLED technology; and, we share our UI design efforts for optimizing user experience and performance of the display.

Posted by Mario Queiroz, VP, Product Management, Google Hardware

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