Pixel 3 launch plagued with multiple bugs, and you can't sue Google over them

The Pixel 3's bundled arbitration agreement means that users can't even sue Google over the issues.

For better or worse, Apple’s iPhones tend to grab an inordinate amount of the limelight. Every issue is magnified a hundred-fold and the admittedly overpriced phones are examined with the deepest of scrutiny. Maybe it’s just more evidence of the polarising nature of the phones.

The only other phone that manages to draw even half as much attention as Apple’s iPhones is, of course, Google’s Pixel lineup. The phones can’t hold a candle to Samsung’s incredible design, but the promise of stock Android and an unmatched camera is hard to ignore. At the same time, Google is so far behind in the hardware game that it’s not even funny.

The Pixel and Pixel 2 XL were plagued by issues from the start. Camera and speaker trouble, not to mention the ridiculously bad LG-made screen on the 2 XL, these were only the tip of the iceberg. With the Pixel 3 launch, it was hoped that Google would at least have sorted out its quality control issues.

 

As it turns out, that may not yet be the case.

According to reports from all over the internet, Google’s latest phones, which retail at well over Rs 70,000 (that’s more than a Samsung Galaxy Note 9), suffer from an embarrassment of issues, starting with:

RAM management

When it comes to RAM, more is better, but only up to a certain point. Experts generally agree that around 4 GB RAM is enough for any Android smartphone and the Pixel 3 phones do pack in that much RAM. The Pixel phones also run bloat-free, optimised Android and we’re sure that Google’s engineers are satisfied that 4 GB is all they need for a smooth Android experience.

The Pixel 3 XL features the very best smartphone camera available today.

The Pixel 3 XL features the very best smartphone camera available today. Image: Google

However, something clearly went wrong somewhere. The internet is filled with complaints about the Pixel 3’s inability to hold anything in memory, with even our very own Sheldon Pinto complaining of the same in his review of the Pixel 3 XL. In his review, he notes that background apps simply don’t survive very long on the phone. Switch between a few apps and most of them will reset.

Thankfully, initial examination of the Android code by independent developers indicates that this is some sort of bug which can, hopefully, be fixed in a later update. For now, it seems that disabling intelligent battery management features can resolve the issue.

 

Audio and microphone issues

As with the Pixel 2, the Pixel 3 also seems to be suffering from speaker issues. Users have reported that the front speaker “rattles and crackles” when playing at higher volume levels. “Speakers sounded like they were being run through a bitcrusher,” says one affected user.

This was a problem with the original Pixel as well and we can’t understand why Google still hasn’t managed to fix the issue. There is some speculation that this is, unlike last time, a software issue and something to do with the algorithm that Google is using to enhance the audio. Only time will tell if this is indeed the case.

Other users are reporting issues with the microphones on the Pixel 3. They’re complaining that the recorded audio is too tinny. “It seemed meh” is the tamest description that we’ve seen of the problem.

Yet another audio issue appears to be a WearOS-related one. A few users have reported that they’re unable to enable speakers during a phone call when a WearOS device (smartwatch) is paired with the phone.

Image capture

You can have the best camera in the world, but without a means of saving the images, you might as well have come empty-handed. The Pixel 3, it seems, is having trouble saving images. Users have been complaining for several days now and Google has, so far, refused to acknowledge the issue. Frustrated users have pinpointed the issue to Google's HDR mode, the secret sauce that makes the Pixel's images so compelling. Apparently, if you exit the camera app before it finishes processing an HDR image, the image will not be saved. It's yet another minor software issue, but one that's been present since the days of the venerable Nexus 5X.

Why can't a $700 bn company fix a 3-year old software bug?

You can’t sue Google

This is by far the silliest issue of all, but one with long-term consequences. It seems that Google is now bundling an Arbitration Agreement with phones sold to US customers. The agreement covers the Pixel 3, 3 XL and related accessories. As per the agreement, you waive your rights to a class action lawsuit and will have to use arbitration to settle any dispute with the company.

This applies if you purchase a Pixel device and don’t return it within 30 days. There is, thankfully, an opt-out clause, but you have to opt-out within 30 days of receiving your Pixel smartphone.

If you remember, the owners of the original Pixel had sued Google over microphone issues, a defect that Google only acknowledged in March 2017, several months after the phone’s launch. The lawsuit was filed by customers who were refused refunds or replacements for the defective phones they were sold.

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