A Googler has publicly acknowledged a lens flare problem that many were noticing with their Pixels.
A post on a Pixel User Community forum from IsaacOnCamera (his profile has the official “Googler” logo) calls the problem “halo/arc flare.” While it’s something that can crop up on all phones and cameras, he said Google is working on a fix so that it makes fewer guest appearances in Pixel photos:
“You can expect a software update in the next few weeks that will improve the effects of this issue. We’re working on some algorithms that recognize the halo/arc flare, characterize it mathematically, and then subtract it from the image. :-) You will need to use HDR+ to see the benefits of this software,” he said.
He said if your Pixel or Pixel XL is experiencing this, there’s no hardware defect that would require swapping out for a new phone. Instead you should keep an eye out for the future update, though he didn’t indicate when that would be.
Here’s an example of a Pixel photo with lens flare:
If done properly, the Pixel’s future software would be able to minimize or eliminate this effect from the picture entirely. We’ll be sure to update you and test this out ourselves when Google offers such an update.
The impact on you: You’re likely to experience this most often in a photo with bright backlighting at just the right angle, such as what’s found in our example image. Even with this issue, it’s still worth sticking to HDR+ for most photos, as this puts the Pixel’s algorithms to work at producing good photos in most instances. And thankfully the HDR+ mode is substantially faster with the Pixel than on past Nexus phones.