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Google finally explained one of the most aggravating problems plaguing Pixel phones

Updated Jan 18th, 2017 9:14AM EST
Google Pixel Audio Problem
Image: Eric Risberg/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones are currently the hottest handsets in the world for Android fans. The sleek, iPhone-esque glass and aluminum design is easily among the best you’ll find in the market today, and the practically pure Android Nougat build running on the phone provides all of the speed and functionality Android users want. But as is the case with all smartphones, however, the Pixel and Pixel XL aren’t perfect. There are a handful of aggravating problems that have been plaguing Pixel phone owners since the handsets debuted last year.

We recently told you about one of the Pixel’s biggest problems and curiously, it mimicked a similar problem iPhone users have been experiencing for months. There are also a few other troublesome issues with Google’s first in-house smartphones, and the company finally explained one of them in a recent email to a frustrated Pixel owner.

The battery life issue affecting some Pixel and Pixel XL handsets is annoying, to say the least, but there is a bright side: the problem only appears to be affecting a small number of handsets. There’s another problem with Pixel phones that is far more widespread, and a recently published note from Google support suggests that it won’t be fixed with a simple software update.

Many Pixel and Pixel XL owners report that their phones’ speakers have an audio problem that causes crackling and distortion when sound is played at high volumes. The issue was demonstrated in a recent video posted to YouTube by user Mark Buckman:

As you can see — and hear — this is a serious problem that has been causing pretty big headaches for users (literally and figuratively). Some chatter bouncing around the web had suggested that it might be a software issue that could be fixed with custom ROMs, but not everyone wants to deal with installing custom software on their phones. What’s more, it now appears that any software that had been thought to fix the issue may have just been limiting the loudspeaker volume, because an email from Google posted on Reddit over the weekend states that the issue is actually a hardware problem. Here’s the email in question (click to enlarge):


The email states that only “select build[s] of device” are affected, though it does not clarify which phones are impacted. Google support also states clearly that the company is not offering refunds for this defect, but it is offering warranty service. Unfortunately, as noted in the YouTube video above, the odds seem fairly good that any replacement phones offered by Google will be affected as well.

UPDATE: A comment from what Reddit moderators have confirmed as an official Google account suggests that the company has actually determined the problem is a software issue, and it is working on a fix. Unless Google changes its mind yet again, it appears as though affected Pixel phones may be fixed soon.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.