Another Pixel 2 XL Screen Scandal: Google Investigating Burn-in

Okay, Google, what's going on with the Pixel 2 XL's screen? No, not the weird color balance issue from last week, there's another potential problem.

As reported on Twitter by Android Central's Alex Dobie — showing off the screen of his Pixel 2 XL — the OLED screens in Google's latest smartphones may be suffering from burn-in. And while this kind of decay could be seen as normal after years with a device, for the flagship device to already be showing signs of age less than a month into its life is disconcerting to say the least.

Editor's Note: We tested our own Pixel 2 XL by leaving it on a static image with the navigation bar exposed at full brightness for an hour, and didn't notice any burn in.

MORE: Is the Pixel 2 XL's Screen Really That Bad? Here's Our Take

Specifically, the issue seen in Dobie's photo is that icons for Android's navigation buttons (back, home and recent apps) have already been burned into his 6-inch phone's screen, as we can see them (albeit faintly), when he pulls up a solid grey background. We will be examining our review units to look for such an issue, as OLED screen burn-in is no laughing matter when you've spent over $849 on a device.

Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's Guide)

The issue seen in the above Pixel 2 XL can't be immediately defined as burn-in, though, as OLED screens can also encounter image retention. In a statement to The Verge, Google defended its smartphone's display, but noted this report has triggered an active investigation:

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.

OLED display burn-in is such a well-known issue, in fact, that Apple wrote "burn-in mitigation" code into iOS 11 so it can prevent this kind of issue in the forthcoming iPhone X. 

We'll make sure to follow this story, as losing parts of your screen due to burn-in is a major bummer. Bezels are one thing, but digital artifacts cluttering your phone's panel are even worse.

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.