Did Google rush its Pixel smartphone out to market to one up Apple’s iPhone 7? That is starting to be a theory given how the honeymoon phase with users seem to be coming to a close. After the hot welcome it received, some owners are starting to discover some warts on the device. First it was a severe camera issue that plagued the otherwise near-perfect Pixel camera. Now the problem is with the smartphone’s audio, which has been shown to exhibit static and cracking noise under some circumstances.
To be clear, this doesn’t seem to happen on all Google Pixel models and not in all apps. Redditor Mark Buckman, a.k.a. “badmark”, who went public with the problem discovered that it occurred when using the Perfect Piano app at full volume. He then demonstrated the same app and max volume on a Motorola-made Nexus 6, which didn’t exhibit the same problem.
Some users chimed in confirming the observation and even added that the same static distortion could be heard in other apps, like when watching YouTube videos as well. The one common thread seems to be that anything playing at maximum volume has a higher chance of hitting the issue.
Comments on the Reddit thread and the Google Product Forums suggest that it could simply be a matter of software pushing the speakers beyond its comfortable limits, or the platform (Android in this case) allowing for that to happen. Indeed, no such distortion happens on those same apps when the volume isn’t on full throttle. A software fix that limits the maximum audio could be possible, but not without modding the system, like running a custom ROM that has finer control over audio settings.
The one puzzling aspect of this issue is that it isn’t spread evenly across all Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones. badmark himself has already gone through four replacements, all with the same behavior. Other owners, both in the US and elsewhere, report not having the problem. As it stands, it might be a game of chance. Google hasn’t offered any comment yet.