Google responds to Pixel microphone issues with official replacement program

In a post on the Pixel Phone Help board, a Google employee explains how users can go about exchanging their phones.

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Jason Cross

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The Pixel has mostly enjoyed a smooth, successful launch, but it hasn’t been without its problems. First there was an audio issue that affected playback at high volumes. Then a Bluetooth problem caused random disabling of connected devices. However, while both of those issues were patched via a software update, it looks like a new problem might not have such an easy fix.

First uncovered by Android Police, Google has taken to the Pixel Phone Help board to address issues regarding malfunctioning microphones. In the original Oct. 20 post, a user says that he “received my Pixel today and after a few hours of use and set up, the microphone stopped working entirely, except when recording video, upon which it’ll record audio fine as if nothing were wrong. I factory reset the phone and the issue still persists everywhere but the camera app.” This was followed by hundreds of comments from users experiencing similar problems.

Google employee Brian Rakowski responded to the post by saying the company is aware of the issue and that a software update will not be able to fix it, as it pertains to a flaw in the manufacturing. As he explains: “The most common problem is a hairline crack in the solder connection on the audio codec. This will affect all three mics and may result in other issues with audio processing. This problem tends to be transient because of the nature of the crack. Based on temperature changes or the way you hold the phone, the connection may be temporarily restored and the problems may go away. This is especially frustrating as a user because, just when you think you’ve got it fixed, the problem randomly comes back. We believe this problem is occurring in less than 1% of phones and often happens after a few months of use (it could be triggered by dropping the phone that may not cause any visible external damage).”

However, help is on the way. Rakowski says that Google will replace any Pixels exhibiting this problem and “are taking additional steps to qualify refurbished phones to make sure they don’t have this mic problem.” He says that Pixel phones manufactured within the past month shouldn’t exhibit the microphone flaw and recommends going back to the place where you purchased the phone to request a warranty replacement.

Now hear this: The Pixel is a new project for Google, and with all new ventures, problems will rise. However, Google is handling them right. With previous issues, employees clearly detailed what was happening and how it would be fixed via a software update. With this one, Google is doing the right thing by exchanging the defective units for new ones, regardless of whether the problem was exasperated by a fall. This will only strengthen the Pixel brand.

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