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Pixel 2 XL #ScreenGate. Google Has Messed Up BUT…

… Blue Shift And Burn-In could be overblown by Apple fanboys’ iMedia… and the misplaced anger of Android fans.

 

Guys, we’re being manipulated.

The uproar about the blue tint or shift (Eric Hupp short YouTube vid), washed out (or more accurate, depending on

Showing Google Pixel 2 XL Blue Shift compared to another not having the issue

Google Pixel 2 XL Blue Shift – Screenshot of Eric Hupp’s YouTube video

people’s opinion) colors, reddish areas in the corners, graining and, worse, potential early screen burn-ins (CNet) etc… directed at the Google Pixel 2 XL screen may be a bit disproportionate. And its real causes aren’t necessary related to the Pixel 2 XL display problems.

 

 

 

Note 1: There’s a TL;DR at the end of this post. Scroll all the way down if you don’t want to read it all. It’s quite long.

Note 2: Btw, I will never buy a Google Pixel phone… Like I never bought a Nexus before. Pixels are way worse, though. No SD card slot, no removable battery, ugly design (to my taste), just about average battery life. These were already some of the cons for (most of the phones in) the Nexus line. But now, Google, with its Pixel (2 and 2 XL), even got rid of the headphone jack (what a d*ck, Apple-like, move.. Just to sell earbuds. Sorry for the language.)… And apparently subpar screens. And to make matters worse, at a very high price.

Hey, Google, there’s a reason I hate Apple fanboys and don’t like Apple products. I won’t buy the same stuff from you just because your name is not Apple. If you sell the same kind of feature-less devices and adopt the same business and price strategy what makes you any different from your rival?

So, yeah, I understand those who do and why they do it. But me? Nope, I won’t buy one. So, please, don’t tell me I’m biased, all right? Thanks.

 

Now, and just to be clear, IF the Google Pixel 2 XL screen is indeed affected by these issues en masse, this is completely unacceptable and owners shouldn’t… accept it. Those whose phone exhibit image retention / burn-in should definitely return it immediately. It’s a defect.

As for the blue shift, all phones have color shift when you twist them. But if it’s too pronounced for you, yeah return it too. Just compare with other phones before you do to make sure that you’re not fixating on it because some reviewers on the internet pointed it out to you and told you it was awful or intolerable. And… please… Don’t buy an iPhone instead. 😀

 

But you see, here’s lie the problem for me. In my opinion, this #screengate seems overblown. There are mainly 2 reasons for this to be this big. And the first one is, precisely:

 

The iMedia and Apple fanboys’ propaganda/agenda.

 

I’m convinced that Apple fanboys and the iMedia wanted to tank the Pixels anyway… Though Google gave them the ammo to do it… And we’re finishing the job for them.

 

The iPhones 8 sales are weak (CNet YouTube video), they need to be boosted.

 

Plus, it could be difficult to sell enough iPhones X because of production constraints. So, it’s even more crucial for Apple to retain customers that would have switched to the Google Pixel 2s and make them want to buy the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus. Why not even take some of last year Pixel buyers? And, while we’re at it, some potential LG V30 customers too.

Wouldn’t discouraging consumers from buying the Pixels and/or LG V30 help reaching these goals? Wouldn’t making them look for stuff they would never have before or, at least, not would have not identify them as deal-breaker problems also contribute to create doubts in their mind about the Pixel 2 XL? Even dissuade them from buying it?

 

The other cause is (deserved) anger towards Google… but for plenty of unrelated reasons…

 

Because my theory is that the Pixel 2 XL screen is in fact low on the list (of blames)… It’s just a catalyst, and maybe not the best one.

I think I about summed up the reproaches we can make to Google with my little ranty disclaimer above (the Note 2). In my opinion, those are the reasons why Android fans are so mad at Google. The anger was there, latent, and these screen stuff brought it all to the surface.

But let’s continue.

 

Number of people talking about the Pixel 2 XL screen problems vs. owners experiencing them.

 

About the overblown part… If we look at the Pixel community’s number of posts on the screen issues supposed to plague the Pixel 2 XL, it’s not a big number at all. Have a look for yourself.

Word Pixel written with the Google Pixel font

This is the main thread talking about the Pixel 2 XL display.

Only 350 posts and there are some (many?) written by people who never held the phone in their hands. They’re worried about their pre-order and/or are just complaining about issues they’ve never experienced themselves.

Still, here’s an example of a funny, sarcastic and witty (we can guess he’s pissed at Google’s answer to the blue shift his screen is exhibiting) comment by a real owner of the phone. It made me laugh out loud, so I had to quote it:

B Sims

Hey Google, sorry, another quick question.

If the Pixel 2 XL is “working as intended”, what the heck has my Nexus 6 been doing for the past 3 years? Do you think you could make an exception (just this one time!) and RMA my Nexus 6 so I can get it working as intended?  I hate the thought of using a phone that’s not working as intended. Thanks!

 

But even if we posited that all the posters on the official Google thread were having problems with their Pixel XL, compared to all those talking about it, it still seems like a pretty low number. Put this in parallel with the huge publicity this story got and you’ll realize actual owners complaining are far from being as numerous as you’d expect them to be with this circus going on.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to try and make you believe that there aren’t reports of (real) angry customers complaining about real issues…

Reddit icon - iHateAppleFanboys.com

There are. You sure can find some in the biggest Reddit Threads (in no particular order):

Thread one, (1100+ comments)

Thread two (837 comments)

Thread three (1303 comments)

And last one (603 comments)

Strange how they’re all based on a The Verge article, though. It may be the biggest tech blog out there but still…

There are many comments on these threads but it looks like there are few ACTUAL users in there and even fewer seem to have ACTUAL problems they consider deal-breakers…

But damn, some are very vocal… To the point of asking to myself: “Are these vocal users all real… or are there some shills in there too?”

Another interesting question to ask is…

 

… How did this Google Pixel 2 XL #screengate start, really?

 

From my point of view (I do NOT read all tech blogs hands on, first impressions or reviews out there, all right? The following is just how I’ve seen it unfold.), it started with a couple of big tech blogs reviews hit pieces. No, they were not reviews. The intent (again, in MY OPINION) was clear and it was to go for the jugular and destroy the Pixel 2 XL screen.

Contrary to what tech blogs want us to believe, it did NOT start with reports from users. How could that be since so few stores and people had received and played with the phone? The reviewers were almost the only ones who had time with it.

“Almost” because some did express some concerns. But, seriously, they were very few.

I guess some reviewers were actively hoping and looking for them because they already decided that the LG’s screens were a disgrace and as the Pixel 2 XL sports an LG screen, well… They just needed to point that out and run with it.

 

So, on October 17, I guess the embargo was lifted because reviews started to appear on the web.

I’ve read the Wired and Stuff ones first (yeah, don’t know how I landed on Stuff but I did), nothing strange in any of them. In fact, these reviews had only positive stuff to say in regard to the screen.

But then, I checked Engadget to see what they were thinking (I’d not been on their website for years… too much pro-Apple bias and censorship in the comment section.. IMO that’s why nobody posts comments there anymore.) and the problems we now know as the Pixel #screengate, even though they were not deemed “deal-breakers”, were cited.

Then, I checked the also biased Ars Technica and it started to go downhill. Many won’t agree on this but, for me, there is no doubt they are pro-Apple biased. And they gave the Pixels review to Ron Amadeo, someone I’m pretty sure is an Apple fanboy.

Ars gave an overall good review of the Pixels 2 (more so of the Pixel 2 XL)… Apart for one tiny little ‘detail’… the screen.  They managed to make the entire section of the review dedicated to the display SOLELY about it being grainy! Whereas Chris Velasco (Engadget) performed a grey test too but found no grain:

“I used an app called Reading Mode to lower the 2 XL’s screen brightness beyond what Android normally allows, opened a pure gray test image and didn’t notice anything unusual.”

But Ars (and Android Central – So, I was already a bit more inclined to think there was some truth in this) did. But from the Author’s (Ron Amadeo) own confession, he “edited” the pictures to accentuate the effect.

“the pictures are meant to be exaggerated comparisons rather than realistic representations of what the screen looks like in the dark. […] I edited the pictures with the goal of demonstrating the difference in clarity between the two screens.”

And he goes on to say that it’s clear from this picture the Pixel 2 XL has grainier screen…

What?

What’s clear beside the fact that the pictures were EDITED? The writer’s just told us so himself. How can anyone accurately show anything (here, “the difference in clarity”) by doctoring pictures? Why amplifying the phenomena? Just for us to be able to see it or to make sure that the Pixel 2 XL screen would look “dirty” (almost disgusting)? Seriously…

I think the answer is in what he doesn’t say in his review… He speaks about nothing else regarding the Pixel 2 XL display. Incredible. NO-THING.

It’s supposed to be a review… But no. There’s only one thing said about the Pixel 2 XL screen and that it’s grainy.

Why did they do that? Whatever their reason, the result is that when a visitor, after reading the review, think about the screen and how it’s described, he’s got only one thing to remember and it’s a negative one… With a picture of an ugly/dirty screen attached to that thought. I’m still flabbergasted that Ars did something like that.

They can give the score they want and say positive things about the Pixel 2 XL before and/or after that, it doesn’t matter much. Because: “Yeah, it’s a good phone and all… But… that screen, though… $900 for that ugly grainy screen?” That’s what a potential customer can think.

Is it done for this purpose? I don’t know but this is very uncommon thus suspicious.

Anyway, there were plenty of comments under the review but it was posted twice on Reddit but nobody cared.

So, it wasn’t enough.

 

Oct 17. Even Engadget Chris Velazco’s review didn’t consider the more accurate (or washed out depending on your opinion) colors and the blue tint appearing at an angle deal breakers.

[…] The result is that the 2 XL’s screen often produces colors that seem flatter than those on other phones on the market, but I wouldn’t necessarily call that a deal-breaker.

Less pleasant is the bluish tint that appears when you look at the XL’s screen from an angle. I wouldn’t call this a deal-breaker either.

 

From Oct 17 to Oct 26. CNet (pretty pro-apple biased too), in their Pixel 2 XL review, decided to jump on the bandwagon of the screen problems… But step by step. They updated it 3 times. They apparently had some burn-ins after about 10 days of using the phone. They stayed measured but they still list the problems… And, as they’re updates, they appear at the very beginning of their review.

 

Still Oct 17. The Verge.

They did a review that they updated on Oct 31… One strange thing about The Verge review is that they claim that they noticed burn-ins (or image retention) immediately but… they only mentioned them in their October 31st update. In fact, their whole update is about these burn-ins… they allegedly experienced image retention “mere minutes after unboxing” with “multiple review units” of the Pixel 2 XL… But then why do they only speak about them 2 weeks later and after it was reported by other publications??

And worse, why does the update say this:

“After the original review was published on October 17th, we saw reports and directly experienced ‘image retention’ on the Pixel 2 XL screen”

Er… What? I’m confused. Did you not also say that you experienced burn-ins immediately after unboxing the phone? Which is it, then?

Just know that before the update, in their original review, the only thing negative they had to say about the screen is that it’s a bit “plain”, “less vibrant” than a Samsung.

 

You can make your own opinion on what’s going on and the credibility of The Verge report and claims.

 

Oct 18.

The Verge (not the same writer though… I guess they’re using the good ol’ good cop/bad cop technique on us) still did an article hit piece to focus on the Pixel 2 XL and tell us how much the screen was “awful”. They changed it to “weird” later on but just look at how the link is worded. “Awful” is still there. Also there is this tweet from the author of this post.

Also, notice how there is the grand total of ZERO mention of screen burn-in or image retention. The guy lists all the problems he finds unacceptable with the screen but he doesn’t mention the one they, at The Verge, supposedly experienced on multiple Pixels 2 XL right after unboxing them? And this, whereas it would be the worst problem by far?

Again… strange, isn’t it?

 

So, who stands to gain and profit from this Pixel 2 XL (and LG V30) #screengate?

 

I think this is an important question to answer if we want to have a better picture of what may have happened.

The answer is, effectively, Samsung and… Apple of course.

So, maybe Google did screw up big time… I’m not sure yet. The coming weeks will obviously shed more light on the true extent of these issues. But the Apple fanboys and iMedia did partake and contribute in the creation of this affair and in the perception that it was a huge problem.

And if they can cast doubt (The Verge again, Oct 24) on the whole Pixel (even Google) brand in the process by pointing out issues they, themselves, had a hand in (maybe not creating but definitely) exaggerating, all the better. Because this article kinda reads like self-fulfilling prophecy.

Moreover, the simple fact that The Verge, with its influence and reach, decides to make an article on Google potential loss of credibility and brand equity (Oxford dictionaries definition and Wikipedia) because of this #screengate… creates de facto a loss of credibility and brand equity.

Believe me, they are well aware of the (potential) consequences and effects of their articles. And the circle is complete.

 

Well, anyway that’s how it all started… And the Reddit threads, social media posts and tweets that followed made it look real, of course.phone displaying icons of social media apps on its home screen - blue color

One last reminder though: if you think about it, all these threads and this whole matter were not really about those issues – since very few non-reviewer had really experienced them… yet. – they were about ‘articles’ describing issues. Big difference.

Some or most of these issues were indeed echoed later… But only by a few Pixel 2 XL owners. I mean, a few compared to the sheer number of people talking and complaining about them. They are a lot for sure.

Phones affected by these issues to the point of being a deal breaker for their owners, on the other hand? Not so many. They do exist but the fact that the Pixel User Community threads aren’t flocked with users describing these problems makes me doubt the severity of this whole issue.

That’s essentially what makes me think this whole Pixel 2 XL #screengate has been overblown.

First by the iMedia and Apple fanboys, and then by us… We were too happy to lash out at Google. Not for the Pixel screen though, but for abandoning the Nexus program and, way worse, going the Apple route (“Less costs more”) with its new Pixel line. The Pixel display was just the straw that broke the Camel’s back.

And that’s what we’ll discuss, together with the reasons why it may have been an anti-Pixel campaign, in my next blog post… in a few days.

 

TL;DR

  • There are indeed issues like blue shift (short YouTube vids), washed out (or more accurate, depending on people’s opinion) colors, reddish areas in the corners, graining and, worse, potential early screen burn-ins (CNet) etc… affecting Pixel 2 XL screens. There are even more QC issues (sound and phones shipping without Android installed!). So, yeah, Google kinda screwed up, there.

 

  • But, for me and based on the reports of true customers we have so far, it seems that the number of actual users having issues they consider deal breakers is relatively low compared to how much it’s discussed and how it’s widespread on the net. There is a huge disconnect between the reality and numbers of problems owners actually experience and the sheer amount of comments and chatter on these issue.

 

  • I think the Pixel 2 XL (and LG V30) #screengate was NOT started by owners of the phone(s) but by some media outlets. How could it be since few people and stores had the phone in their possession at the time blogs published their reviews?

Plus, in these media, I strongly suspect  at least a few to be pro-Apple publications. (My conviction, after years of research, is tcomputer keyboard with a discrete Apple logo on a keyhat the majority of the – tech or mainstream –  media is pro-Apple. And it’s evidenced in the way they treat, write about and report on the fruit company… and, in contrast, everyone else.). So, they had motive to exaggerate the issues and focus people attention on them.

 

  • It snowballed because of the iFanboys rejoicing in the “news” and jumping on the opportunity to bash a more and more dangerous rival in the smartphone market, Google. BUT also because of Android fans and the latent anger they have towards Google for abandoning the Nexus line and going the Apple route (uninspired devices with less hardware features than the competition yet costing an arm)… and prioritizing the bottom line.

 

And we’ll develop a bit on these 2 facts in a future post.

Hope you’ve found this blog post interesting whether you agree with its stance(s) or not.

Until next time,