Google Pixel Speaker Busted? Here's What to Do (Update)

Editors' Note: This story was updated with the results of testing the issue out on Pixel and Pixel XL handsets and an official response from Google.

The Google Pixel may be our favorite Android phone, but several customer reports claim the flagship handset suffers from a problem that's making it hard to listen to. That's because some Pixels blast annoyingly distorted audio from the internal speaker when sound is set to full volume.

In a post to the Android sub-reddit yesterday (Dec. 18), user badmark (who goes by Mark Buckman on YouTube) shared the news that all four of his Pixel XLs (Google replaced the handset each time) and his wife's standard Pixel all emit crackling sound. This issue is demonstrated by turning the pixel to maximum volume and playing in the Perfect Piano app. As you'll see in the clip above, the sound is far, far from perfect.

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To diagnose the issue independently without Perfect Piano, you should play this trailer for upcoming reboot of The Mummy on full volume on a Pixel, which revealed the flaw to one redditor who didn't even notice it.

Image: Samuel C. Rutherford / Tom's Guide

Image: Samuel C. Rutherford / Tom's Guide

Once you've diagnosed the issue, you can reach out to Google customer support directly from your Pixel — just consider lowering the volume if you're going to put them on speaker phone. Open the Settings app, tap the Support tab at the top and tap Phone or Chat. Then you'll need to just just enter your information and tap send to get a Google rep on the phone on in a chat.

We're going to put our own Pixel handset through this test later today, but looking back at our Google Pixel review, we note that the handset produced less distortion, not more, at max volume than the Nexus 6P. Still, this is a significant issue for a $649 smartphone from Google, and it's one worth trying to resolve.

UPDATE (Dec. 19): We reproduced the audio static reported by 'badmark' on both a Pixel XL and a Pixel, using both the new Mummy trailer and the Perfect Piano app. Other videos and songs could not produce this audio static, and neither could other Android smartphones. We will reach out to Google and update this story when we receive a response.

UPDATE (Dec. 20): A Google representative told Tom's Guide that the company is "aware of an issue affecting audio quality for some apps on Pixel" and that it is "actively working on a fix."

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.