Pixel 2 XL Screen Defective? Google Responds

Google has come under fire after reviewers of the company's Pixel 2 XL have complained of a dull color problem with its screen. And now, Google has responded.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In a statement to The Verge, Google said that it's designed the Pixel 2 XL's display to be "more natural and accurate." That translates to a slightly duller picture that delivers a more accurate representation of color than vivid displays that wash out detail, the company has argued. Google also said that the Pixel 2 XL also comes with a vivid display mode, which will boost color saturation by as much as 10 percent.

Update 12:39 pm ET. We've performed our own testing and can confirm that the Pixel 2 XL exhibits the same issues others have complained about in regards to colors. Hues are more vibrant on the regular XL, and there's a blue tint to Pixel 2 XL when you shift the phone in your hand. We have updated our review accordingly.

Google's statement comes after several Pixel 2 XL reviewers have complained of a dull display that ultimately makes its screen far less appealing than those from LG, Samsung, and others. The Verge's Vlad Savov was one of the more outspoken critics, saying that the Pixel 2 XL's screen is "poor." He pointed to problems with resolution and color accuracy, and said that it's an "inexcusable disaster."

Android Central had other issues with the Pixel 2 XL's panel, which is made by LG. "The 2880x1440 resolution is plenty high, but the Pixel 2 XL exhibits the same sort of soft grain and grit as the V30 on white backgrounds when scrolling — one of those things you can't un-see once it's been pointed out."

In fact, Android Central preferred the colors and overall screen performance of the lower-resolution Pixel 2. However, not everyone believes that these issues are as bad as they seem.

MORE: 9 Reasons to Buy the Google Pixel 2 (and 4 Reasons to Skip)

"I do notice a slight blue cast when I hold the Pixel 2 XL off-angle, but I don't see the graininess when scrolling on single-color backgrounds that other reviewers have pointed out," said Mark Spoonauer, editor in chief of Tom's Guide, who reviewed the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. "In general, the panel has delivered the richly saturated hues, perfect blacks and wide viewing angles we expect from an OLED screen, but we'll be doing more in-depth testing versus the regular Pixel 2 and the Galaxy S8, and will update our full review with our findings."

Adam Ismail, a staff writer for Tom's Guide, however, noted that the Pixel 2's screen had a sepia tone to it, and that the whites aren't pure white. He noted that it looks like a "vintage Instagram filter."

So, what's really going on? The problem might have something to do with screen calibration.

When a screen is effectively calibrated in the television world, for instance, it might look rather dull and lack color. However, the result is more color accuracy and a more accurate depiction of the image. Some people prefer brighter, more vivid color representation, which ultimately lends itself to reduced accuracy.

For its part, Google said that it will analyze how users react to the Pixel 2 XL's display and consider "adding more color options through a software update." It will do that if it gets enough complaints.

Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.