Pixel 2, iPhone X, and OLED woes

Everyone is raving about the Google Pixel 2 XL’s screen burn-in issues. People who have never even touched a Pixel smartphone, much less owned one, have been obnoxiously quick to hop on a bandwagon riot against the second-generation Mountain View device. Some of the most ardent haters are, as you may expect, Apple groupies. But is this new evidence that Google phones suck?

As per the usual, no new flagship phone is without flaw and media attention, and the recently released Google smartphones are no exception. The internet is abuzz with news about Google failing to design a decent product (which we also predicted).

In this case, we aren’t talking about an exploding battery, a bending aluminum frame, or an endless boot-loop. We are talking about the eventual and residual “burning” or wearing of the screen by static subsurface pixels illuminated for long periods of time. This is not new to smartphone screens, and certainly not new to LEDs. That said, you’d think Google would have done its research since the Pixel 2 phones aren’t drastically different than last year’s models.

Only the Google Pixel 2 XL is affected

That’s right; two different Google Pixel 2 phones were announced in the first week of October. The larger 6” device is made by South Korean manufacturer LG, while the smaller 5” phone is made by Taiwanese company HTC. Somewhat confusingly, Samsung made the Pixel 2’s screens, while LG tried its hand at producing its own panels for the XL.

LG displays have had a long track record of being beautiful LCD smartphone panels. The LCD displays arguably present some of the best images on a phone, but the new OLED screens don’t have an extensive history. In fact, they’re brand new for LG. As such, adequate testing of their first debut on the Pixel 2 XL apparently slipped through the cracks between Seoul and Mountain View.

It’s worth noting that there have been no records of the 5” Pixel 2 phone suffering from screen burn-in, and we wouldn’t expect there to be any since Samsung is tried and true.

Google has since vowed to fix the problem

Like with Electronic Arts the other day, everyone likes to see a large company respond to complaints or public opinion. Google, too, both resolved to fix the problem of screen burn-in with a software update. This will likely alternate turning on and off individual pixels in frequently illuminated areas, like the navigation bar, to prevent “burning” a particular area.

Additionally, Google announced that for people who did not purchase the optional protection plan for their devices, a new two-year warranty would cover any malfunctions with the smartphones. Overall, this means that if you ventured to buy a Pixel 2 in 2017, you can rest assured that bar abuse or neglect, it’ll be in working order for at least two years.

Google doesn’t always back up its products and services, but when it does, this is what that looks like.

iPhone X is the first Apple smartphone to flaunt an OLED screen

LG may have recently experimented with new screen technology, but so did Apple. While the Cupertino giant may have had ten years of creating successful smartphones, it has zero years of successful OLED displays on said smartphones. The new era of Apple phenomena may suffer burn-in and it may escape it, but as with all new things, there will indubitably be growing pains as the iPhone finally catches up to the modern specs.

Apple already made a statement about the probability of burn-in on its new devices, but this was likely to quench flames before they arise. As Samsung supplied these panels, it’s quite possible the two companies collaborated sufficiently to test and avoid such basic malfunctions. We will know soon enough, as pre-orders are starting to ship.

Whether or not we see a string of burn-in issues follow the iPhone X release, it behooves Apple owners to learn more about the manufacturing and science of their devices to identify and understand the depth of complication associated with annual smartphone upgrades. While it could have happened to any company in 2017, it looks like Google fell on the sword for this one. 

Hopefully, the only thing that’s changed about the new iPhone is everything.

Featured Image: The Verge