Google's deplorable handling of the Pixel 3 screen flash issue may be coming to an end

Greg S

TS Evangelist

Google has a history of releasing phones that require a slew of patches and updates over the course of several weeks to months. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are no different in this regard.

Upon launch, the latest Pixels had memory management problems, issues with photos not saving, extra notches appearing, and several more bugs. One of the most persistent issues that is still present is related to the Ambient display setting.

Thousands of Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL users have reported that their screens flash white when waking up with the Ambient display enabled. Several hundred people have reported the issue directly through Google's Issue Tracker, with untold numbers of frustrated Pixel owners who never knew the Issue Tracker even existed. Google dropped the ball on this one and has failed to properly address the issue. Refusing to acknowledge a well known and frequently reported problem is a move straight from the Steve Jobs and Tim Cook playbook. At least Google did not blame the end user on this one, but intentionally ignoring a problem and hoping it magically will go away is one of the most cowardly responses a company can give.

It is not that Google has not seen the problem or is not aware of it. In fact, there are many users out there who have told stories of having their phones replaced just days after initial launch due to this specific bug. So now that there are over five months of reports piling up and a countless number of phones being replaced on a regular basis, a Google spokesperson has confirmed that the problem exists. Not only that, but Google is also nearly ready with a software fix to prevent displays from erratically flashing when waking up from sleep. Yet the Issue Tracker shows no signs of acknowledgement and Google opted only to provide a very brief background via email instead of simply offering a quote stating that the problem will be fixed soon.

As part of the April security update, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are also supposed to receive a patch that will fix the screen flashing issue.

The update will be rolled out in the coming weeks. Once it is available, we will see if Google can finally get the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL working for users the way they were supposed to back on launch day.

Handling of issues such as these are rarely something you come across when reading reviews or watching your favorite YouTube personalities give a rundown on the latest and greatest available. As much as it would be great to see the Pixel series become more than just a good camera that can make phone calls, ignoring your most vocal users and having poor communication is a surefire way to make sure that Google hardware remains mediocre at best.

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Threader

TS Rookie
Google charging premium prices for substandard hardware/software. I got a taste of it with my very first Google Nexus 5 (LG fabrication) where the On/Off power button broke causing boot loops few months after the warranty expired. That would of been expected of a sub $200 less expensive phone but not a $450 phone at the time. Never had problems with my Samsung, Asus, OnePlus hardware. Avoid Google phones at all costs. Sub-par quality control with premium prices
 

petert

TS Evangelist
Google charging premium prices for substandard hardware/software. I got a taste of it with my very first Google Nexus 5 (LG fabrication) where the On/Off power button broke causing boot loops few months after the warranty expired. That would of been expected of a sub $200 less expensive phone but not a $450 phone at the time. Never had problems with my Samsung, Asus, OnePlus hardware. Avoid Google phones at all costs. Sub-par quality control with premium prices
Me too, it broke after one year ... on my next google phone (nexus 6p) I got both the battery and boot loop of death. Funny story, I was fed up after two years of crap battery (dying randomly between 15 to 50% and not holding charge very well) and called a service to show up next day to get the battery replaced. It developed the boot loop of death (something related to cpu) so I got off, not having to spent money on the battery. I went for a blackberry keyone ... superior phone tbh, after one year still goes strong. If I were to compare though, nexus 6p was inferior to nexus 5 from LG ... just my thoughts.
 

Hexic

TS Evangelist
I don’t think google has handled their bugs very well, and a bit more QA would surely help with their phones... but I much prefer a Pixel to any other Android device by far. Samsung’s are nice, but they get slow, randomly crash, and apps begin to force-close for seemingly no reason. I don’t feel like reformatting my phone every 12 months so it runs smooth.

Pixels are snappy for years, and have the best software a phone can get (not to mention the camera thanks to AI) for the price. They’re still $200+ cheaper than the “premium” phones of Samsung and Apple, and if Google could fix these sporadic issues it’d be the best phone out there IMO.
 

PittsPilot

TS Rookie
I have a Pixel 3XL and it's been great. The phone sometimes has a clicking that's audible to the receiver and it sounds like others have that issue too, so I do hope Google fixes that,. Beyond that, it's the best phone I've ever had, with amazing pictures and great UI. I was a Samsung guy forever but then found the Pixel line and have been much happier with my phone ever since. Gave my wife my old Pixel 2 after her Samsung 7S crapped out. She seems happy too.
 

DWood

TS Rookie
Wow ivI had XL3 for six weeks and I've been very plaead with it. Nothing in your click bait article has happened to me. It has been a awesome phone.
I did have a problem with my Xl 2. I ran it over with my golf cart! Lol
 

reflux

TS Rookie
I had a ridiculous experience trying to get my Pixel 2 XL replaced last year. It had crackly, poor quality sound through the speakers. I spent a month dealing with Google support and they just came up with excuse after excuse, refusing to escalate me to second line support. They told me things like - "there's a software update coming, but we can't tell you when" and "this is a feature, not a bug". All total rubbish.

In the end I had to do a reddit request just to get through to someone who actually cared about my problem. They then authorised a replacement, but I can't understand why that didn't happen in the first place.

Customer service is nothing more than an inconvenience for Google.
 
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006 Bill

TS Rookie
Me too, it broke after one year ... on my next google phone (nexus 6p) I got both the battery and boot loop of death. Funny story, I was fed up after two years of crap battery (dying randomly between 15 to 50% and not holding charge very well) and called a service to show up next day to get the battery replaced. It developed the boot loop of death (something related to cpu) so I got off, not having to spent money on the battery. I went for a blackberry keyone ... superior phone tbh, after one year still goes strong. If I were to compare though, nexus 6p was inferior to nexus 5 from LG ... just my thoughts.
The stellar camera made it bearable. That was the turning point that created Pixel. Still my personal favorite. Gotta have those perfect moments captured ... without chance of issues.
 

Thrilllme

TS Rookie
I don’t think google has handled their bugs very well, and a bit more QA would surely help with their phones... but I much prefer a Pixel to any other Android device by far. Samsung’s are nice, but they get slow, randomly crash, and apps begin to force-close for seemingly no reason. I don’t feel like reformatting my phone every 12 months so it runs smooth.

Pixels are snappy for years, and have the best software a phone can get (not to mention the camera thanks to AI) for the price. They’re still $200+ cheaper than the “premium” phones of Samsung and Apple, and if Google could fix these sporadic issues it’d be the best phone out there IMO.
Nah what samsung phone s 2 they have ben the best phones for years now ..look at there rank number 1 over apple even
 

Thrilllme

TS Rookie
Im glad people are waking up all ya had to do us admit the problem luke samsung dose ...nope google is trash ...it has ben since 2013
 
Thank you for the article. Regretfully this is far from the first time such incident in Google World: check out "black crush" with Pixel 2 - still unacknowledged, and Google's miserable handling of their domain privacy leak (https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2015/03/epic-google-snafu-leaks-hidden-whois-data-for-280000-domains/).
 
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Remze

TS Rookie
THANK YOU.

Finally a tech news reporting about this problem. I have had the issue with my first Pixel 3 five days after receiving it. Got a replacement. And now I disabled ambient display on my second Pixel 3 to prevent the issue from coming back and am praying for the issue not to come back.

Google's management of the bugs and problems with their phones is shameful. This is the first and last time I purchase a Pixel phone.

EDIT: in case people are wondering how many people have been reporting the issue => https://issuetracker.google.com/issues/119210591
And that only includes people aware of the existence of the issue tracker. The number of people actually affected is probably much much bigger.
 

Neil Evans

TS Rookie
Another huge issue with Pixel 3 is that the camera cannot handle backlighting. Bright background including cloudy bright clouds results in underexposed subject or foreground. There is regrettably no way to compensate, no way to adjust the aperture. This is completely unacceptable.
 

dcumings

TS Rookie
6p was a great example of this. The glass covering the camera shattered for everyone I know who had the phone. Customer service was a mess and Google sent me to the manufacturer to have it replaced. They wanted to charge me $80 and take my phone for weeks. Needless to say I did it myself for $5. The Pixel 2xl had issues with the speakers that never really got fixed. They sent me.a new phone which eventually developed the blown speaker issue. My recommendation is to never buy Google devices on launch. They are steeply discounted within a matter of months.
 
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Theinsanegamer

TS Evangelist
I don’t think google has handled their bugs very well, and a bit more QA would surely help with their phones... but I much prefer a Pixel to any other Android device by far. Samsung’s are nice, but they get slow, randomly crash, and apps begin to force-close for seemingly no reason. I don’t feel like reformatting my phone every 12 months so it runs smooth.

Pixels are snappy for years, and have the best software a phone can get (not to mention the camera thanks to AI) for the price. They’re still $200+ cheaper than the “premium” phones of Samsung and Apple, and if Google could fix these sporadic issues it’d be the best phone out there IMO.
My moto z play got 2 major feature updates, nearly 3 of security updates, a far longer battery life then a pixel, a headphone jack, and has never needed reformatted. It still runs as well today as it did out of the box, and it runs nearly stock android to boot.

These pixels are $250 Nexus phones sold for iphone level pricing. Its rediculous.
 
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ElPatron17

TS Rookie
I had a ridiculous experience trying to get my Pixel 2 XL replaced last year. It had crackly, poor quality sound through the speakers. I spent a month dealing with Google support and they just came up with excuse after excuse, refusing to escalate me to second line support. They told me things like - "there's a software update coming, but we can't tell you when" and "this is a feature, not a bug". All total rubbish.

In the end I had to do a reddit request just to get through to someone who actually cared about my problem. They then authorised a replacement, but I can't understand why that didn't happen in the first place.

Customer service is nothing more than an inconvenience for Google.
I've had nothing but good luck with Google Nexus and Pixel phones. I've owned every Nexus and Pixel phone since the Google Nexus 4. I've had to replace 1 phone with an issue and they replaced it without any fuss what so ever. Every time I contact support they always give me a great experience. Maybe you just don't treat them with respect when you contact them. As someone who worked in the customer service industry sometimes you just don't treat customers the same simply because of how they treat you. It's a stressful enough job as it is without having someone angry at you for something you have no control over. Next time you talk with support just let them know what you've done to try to fix the issue yourself and then let them walk you through any advice that they have and see if it helps. If it doesn't and you don't get mad at them, they usually have no problem replacing it.
 
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ElPatron17

TS Rookie
Another huge issue with Pixel 3 is that the camera cannot handle backlighting. Bright background including cloudy bright clouds results in underexposed subject or foreground. There is regrettably no way to compensate, no way to adjust the aperture. This is completely unacceptable.
Not true at all in my case. I've never had that issue. If you want a better exposure tap on your subject and tire on HDR+ Enhanced if the situation is less then ideal with the strong backlighting. The phone takes care of the rest.
 

Joe Smart

TS Rookie
The Pixel XL had an issue where the devices would spontaneously die that was dubbed the black screen of death. Hundreds of owners reported the problem in the official Google Pixel Support threads but I personally contacted every major tech publication and every single one refused to write a single word about the issue. Google never officially acknowledges any Pixel issue unless it can be fixed via software update. The Pixel 2 issue where taking pictures would crash the phone took 8 months for Google to fix and no tech publication wrote about the problem before Google officially acknowledged it--8 months after the Pixel 2 launch.
 
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I have a Pixel 3XL and it's been great. The phone sometimes has a clicking that's audible to the receiver and it sounds like others have that issue too, so I do hope Google fixes that,. Beyond that, it's the best phone I've ever had, with amazing pictures and great UI. I was a Samsung guy forever but then found the Pixel line and have been much happier with my phone ever since. Gave my wife my old Pixel 2 after her Samsung 7S crapped out. She seems happy too.
I also have a 3XL and had no problems since December (when I got it), even on Android Q, the only bugs are with beta features like screen recording. Otherwise, absolutely no problems at all and I'm loving the camera, too.
 

Kidcooley

TS Rookie
I love my pixel 3. I've yet to hear of any perfect phones from release, Android or apple. Nonetheless, I haven't experienced the screen issue. I have however had an issue with mic delay when answering a call on speaker phone. Hopefully this can be fixed with a software update, but it's definitely not a deal breaker.
 

AtariLegend

TS Rookie
Wow ivI had XL3 for six weeks and I've been very plaead with it. Nothing in your click bait article has happened to me. It has been a awesome phone.
I did have a problem with my Xl 2. I ran it over with my golf cart! Lol
Nothing about this article is "click bait". You've owned the phone for 6 weeks, just be glad you didn't buy it at launch. Maybe they fixed the issue, but both me and my girlfriend had the screen flash issue on 3 out of 5 Pixel 3 XLs. Nearly gave up after one replacement didn't do it.
 
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EricH

TS Rookie
I love my pixel 3. I've yet to hear of any perfect phones from release, Android or apple. Nonetheless, I haven't experienced the screen issue. I have however had an issue with mic delay when answering a call on speaker phone. Hopefully this can be fixed with a software update, but it's definitely not a deal breaker.
Same issue. Speaker phone problems. Sometimes clears up after clicking off speaker and back. Sometimes doesn't. I've seen many posts about this problem but no articles or acknowledgement from Google.
 
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