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Google’s Big-Screened Pixel 2 XL May Have Big Screen Problems

October 23, 2017, 10:38 AM UTC

Google’s Pixel 2 XL is one of a pair of smartphones that the tech giant introduced this month. Like the 5-inch Pixel 2, the 6-inch Pixel 2 XL is supposed to showcase the best that Android has to offer. However, there appear to be problems with its screen.

While the Pixel 2’s screen was made by Samsung, the Pixel 2 XL’s display is an LG product, and there are reports of various issues with it. The screen uses a technology called POLED, which stands for “plastic organic light emitting diodes,” and some users have been complaining about its dull color reproduction and alleged blue tint. But there may be a worse problem: screen burn-in.

Remember when PCs’ cathode-ray-tube (CRT) monitors required moving screen savers when not in use to stop text or images from leaving an indelible trace? The same image-retention issue sometimes affects modern OLED screens to a degree. And, according to Android Central’s experience with its review unit, the Pixel 2 XL may be a victim.

On Sunday, the specialist Android website tweeted a photo showing the device’s navigation bar as faintly visible against a gray background—evidence, it said, of screen burn-in after just a week’s use. Google says it’s looking into the problem:

“The Pixel 2 XL screen has been designed with an advanced POLED technology, including QHD+ resolution, wide color gamut, and high contrast ratio for natural and beautiful colors and renderings. We put all of our products through extensive quality testing before launch and in the manufacturing of every unit. We are actively investigating this report.”

If Google’s investigations do confirm a widespread problem, the implications could extend beyond customers sending back their units for refund or repair. The big question would be whether LG has a problem with its POLED technology.

The advantage of POLED screens is that they allow a degree of flexibility. Indeed, LG has used it before, in its G Flex 2 phones. CNET reported last week that its review units of the LG V30 smartphone, which seems to use the same screen as the Pixel 2 XL, did not have the muted-color problems some have associated with Google’s new device.

So did Google’s first run of the Pixel 2 XL contain a bad batch of screens? Time will tell.