back to article Sick burn, yo: Google's latest Pixel 2 XL suffers old-skool screen singe

Earlier this month, Google unveiled its new Pixel smartphones to great hullabaloo – and now to great consternation. The Pixel 2 XL, which costs $849, has already raised eyebrows with the blue tinge to its plastic OLED screen. Now it appears that the display has burning problems as well. After a week of hard use, a reviewer at …

  1. J. R. Hartley

    My S8 is the same. I use it as a satnav for most of the day. The Google Maps icons and the black bar at the bottom are visible on Landscape mode. Thought the screen was damaged for ages before I realised what had happened.

    Never had this on any phone before.

    1. N13L5

      One reason I don't buy Samsung...

      I'll take an LCD phone over an OLED phone any day...

      I think its all designed to incentivize you to buy a new phone every year...

      Burn-in, Batteries that can't be swapped and soon, non-physical electronic SIM cards, where you have to go begging your Telco to switch your phone to a new SIM and then wait till they actually do it.

      Forget about putting a local SIM card in, while you're overseas, the process will take longer than your trip and of course there will be fees...

      And the sheeple will condemn you to go along with it eventually, by their docile acceptance, voting for that garbage with their dollars.

  2. PhilipN Silver badge

    Flying Toasters

    Hands up those who remember.

    1. caffeine addict

      Re: Flying Toasters

      I remember, but respectfully ask that no-one puts their hand up me.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Sheer nostalgia

    VDUs. You got 80x24 shaded rectangular blocks on the screen. The characters kept changing but the places where they were drawn didn't.

  4. Lee D Silver badge

    Irony - today I saw my first ever burnt-in monitor, and I've been using and building PC's for 25+ years.

    I had a week off work, got back, and our workplace logo was burnt into the LCD screen of the computer that only I use. Not bad, you only really notice on flat-backgrounds, but when I lock my screen it's perfect placement on the dark-colour-on-bright-white logo that sits on the lock "screensaver" (whatever you want to call that screen that comes up eventually if you wait too long to login).

    Never seen it before. Had heard about it for years, but even my oldest CRT never did it, I've never used a plasma screen (mainly because of such issues) and I'd never seen an LCD do it. The only other place I've ever seen it is some really cheap projectors.

    Until today... and now The Reg tells me that phones get this too? I'll worry about it in 25 years.

    Fortunately, I'm the IT Manager. A new monitor is no biggy, but I'm gonna see if just some normal-screen-use will fade it out over time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      LCD image retention

      Every LCD monitor I've owned (and every CRT monitor before it) has shown at least a little image retention, like being able to notice the faint outline of the status bar on the bottom of the screen. Not like I was getting cheap ones either - the last CRT was a high end 21" Trinitron made for HP workstations.

      I've got a bunch of plasma TVs, and a few are more susceptible to burn-in and I need to run a color pattern on them regularly to clear it up. Others seem pretty resistant - all Panasonic panels so I'm not sure why some have a problem and others don't. Maybe it is just the luck of the panel lottery.

      I haven't ever seen even a hint of image retention on any of my iPhones, but I have seen a few friends with a pretty bad case on their Androids (can't remember brands, but I know they weren't Samsungs and it was a few years ago so very likely LCD not OLED)

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      IT Angle

      @Lee D

      Fortunately, I'm the IT Manager

      Say no more!

      There is usually a "Power" switch somewhere easily accessible from the front of monitors - handy little thing for when you won't be using the device for a while

      1. Lee D Silver badge


        It's hard to press when I'm not there, though. Especially if I did press it before I left. Hell, I can't even tell if the monitor is on or off, even logging into that machine remotely. Modern tech, eh? And even when I am on remotely, my screen doesn't move... the video output stays on the lockscreen while it sends the images to me.

        I think my tech turned it on to do a staff induction and then forgot to turn the monitor off (why would he turn my monitor off? He's probably never needed to do it).

        But, unfortunately, being a school screensavers are pretty pointless (how would you like your lesson to be ruined every ten minutes while you'd left the work up on the board for the kids?), and being a computer in the IT office it's not subject to the 10pm shutdown that all other machines are (because if that goes wrong, God help you... even though the servers can be accessed, you're going to want a machine that's been kept joined to the network with a local copy of your profile if something goes wrong, I guarantee you).

        And, literally, in 25 years of doing this I've NEVER SEEN BURN-IN. I think the monitor has just hit that age - it's at least 6-8 years old, I think. The logo that's now burnt-in a little has been the same logo in the same exact position for the last 4 years. I know, because I put it there. It honestly hasn't appeared on even the dozens of same-age monitors we've had to bin due to age (P.S. As IT, you should use the worst stuff you have, so you know that your users are just whining when they complain about your equipment). We got a lot of ex-Olympic stock at one point and I'm still churning through it until it dies rather than spend money needlessly. Casualties of burn-in? One monitor, that's been used more than ANY OTHER in the entire place.

        So, to be honest, it's not my fault, and still not a concern. Hell, I might actually go for widescreen with the next one...

    4. phuzz Silver badge

      My old monitor, though it was a really nice Sony one, gradually started to get some kind of 'burn in' on the screen which I think was down to the liquid crystals no longer getting quite enough voltage to fully change state.

      It's not literally burnt into the screen though in the way that a CRT would physically singe the phosphor, and would usually go away gradually over about half an hour.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well, if you bought one, you're feeling that way. To remove the "POLE", simply return the phone and retrieve your cash.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google I can understand (being practically hardware virgins) making a mistake like this. But how did the issue get past LG & HTC (who Google bought)?

    Samsung made a similar odd mistake with their batteries (which they make themselves) but that was more of a design issue, rather than a hardware issue.

    QC isn’t just a catch phrase...

    I used to see a significant number of monitor burn-ins, that was 20+ years ago working on even old computers. Everything from then on was about bad pixels in LCDs... boring.

    Degaussing CRTs was also fun. Don’t laugh, surely I’m not the only one impressed by pretty colors. It’s sad I missed the magic mushroom era...I’m only 41.

    They say “what goes around, comes around” it’s interesting to see that’s true with screens...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      > "Degaussing CRTs was also fun."

      Yeah, unless you do it for too long while looking at the cool screen effects, and the homemade coil in your hand (that you've plugged into the mains) starts to melt...

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        You need the proper BBC tool UNI/515, mate: nice solid thing made on a carved wooden frame with a power connector in the middle.

        1. G2

          beware that my antivirus started screaming and lighting up like a Christmas tree when i tried to visit that nibroadcast URL. it's infected.

          url path of the infection contains host 50_28_72_138 (dots removed)

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Apologies; my no-script/ublock just let the page data through. Sorry guys.

            1. G2

              i have AdBlock and NoScript too.. the problem is that that host (50_28_ etc) is blacklisted via SafeBrowsing for malware and phishing.


              enter just the host address there and check.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Degaussing CRTs was also fun.

      Yes, especially on someone elses CRT who didn't know what you were doing.

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >QC isn’t just a catch phrase...

      We need you to meet these impossible specs by this impossible deadline

      = make something that just about works and then ope to fix it "optomise production parameters" later

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    All this clickbait is coming from a single source. Congratulations on them I suppose for capitalising on internet stupidity.

    Someone at android central just paid off their mortgage

    1. phuzz Silver badge
  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is important to trash a whole product on evidenceless word of a single person.

    1. Phil W

      Apart from the evidence of the photo they provided. Not to mention other reviewers who have sample handsets reporting the same problems, including the BBC.

      1. Dr Mantis Toboggan

        OK, I will assume you are stupid. BBC also link to the same single handset.

        1. Steve Todd Silver badge

          Do Ars Technica, The Verge and 9 to 5 Google, all of whome have review units and report the same problem, not count also?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What did you expect?

    You want to make a light-emitting display which has a reasonable color reproduction and contrast in direct sunlight. OK, that means having outgoing light flux of about 0.1 W/cm2 (ie comparable to the sunlight at sea level). Now you also want it in a package less than 1 mm thick. OK, this means using polymer-based OLED to make fabrication possible. It also means that your energy conversion efficiency is at most 20%. So, your device needs to dissipate about 0.5 W/cm2, or 10 W/cm3 (assuming it is 0.5 mm thick). This roughly what your kettle is dissipating when it is boiling - so expect to have some thermal issues.

    Since you have to use OLEDs, you will also need to worry about chemical damage: OLEDS store several electron-Volts worth of energy in an electronically-excited state of a single molecule, so that they can emit this energy as a photon, for at least tens of picoseconds. This is an eternity for a vibrating molecule, and couple of eVs is more than enough to mess up a chemical bond. Now these molecules are very carefully engineered, so that most of the time they will emit a photon - but occationally, perhaps once per 1e5 cycles, something will go wrong and irreversible chemical damage will occur.

    Now the chances of the chemical damage increase dramatically ("exponentially") when temperature increases. Luckily, we are driving the whole assembly at energy densities of a hotplate - so if the thermal management is not perfect, temperature will rise, and will accelerate the damage.

    The bottom line is you are driving the display at the limit of what the materials it is made from could possibly take. So it is no great surprise sometimes it goes over the edge.

    1. AndyS

      Re: What did you expect?

      > So, your device needs to dissipate about 0.5 W/cm2, or 10 W/cm3 (assuming it is 0.5 mm thick). This roughly what your kettle is dissipating when it is boiling - so expect to have some thermal issues.

      Why on earth has this drivel been upvoted?

      Does your phone get as hot as a kettle? No? Then it isn't dissipating that much heat. "Thermal management," as you call it, doesn't magically make heat go away.

      Let's look at your numbers. 0.5W/cm2, on a 5" screen, would be over 30 watts. The Pixel 2 has a 2,700 mAh battery, or 10 Wh. So, by your calculations, having the screen turned on would drain the battery in 20 minutes.

      Say what you like about battery life or heat, that is clearly bullshit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What did you expect?

        Say what you like about battery life or heat, that is clearly bullshit.

        The numbers are accurate for a display competing with the direct sunlight, as was clearly stated in the comment. Not every display will be used in this way, but those which are will suffer from thermal management issues and will have horrible battery life.

        If you do not like this, perhaps you can arrange for the Sun to be fitted with a dimmer switch.

        1. AndyS

          Re: What did you expect?

          So, your calculations are nothing to do with the phone in question. Why post then?

          Even at that, you are out by a factor of 12 or so:

          Solar radiation is around 150 W/m^2, of which about half is visible light.

          So, a normal phone (6x11cm screen), screen area approx 1/150 m^2, receives ~0.5W of (visible light) radiation when faced directly at the sun.

          Assuming 20% efficiency (as you do), that gives us 2.5W, not the 30W you calculated.

          So your estimations are both not relevant (by your own admission), and comically wrong. Hence my original question of who, on a tech site with a supposedly educated readership, was upvoting such drivel? It's not hard to see how irrelevant and wrong it is. Back to one simple test - does your phone get as hot as a kettle? No? Then your calculations are wrong.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What did you expect?

            Back to one simple test - does your phone get as hot as a kettle?

            The point you miss (and that I'm not sufficiently educated in this field to comment on, and nor am I the OP) is the energy density that the OP referred to. Whilst you've been rather harshly critical of the OP, you haven't been very constructive in that. I should know, the number of posts I've made and thought " 5h1t, I didn't mean to come across like that".

            Now regardless of my anonymous mea culpa, I didn't take the OP's comments to mean that I'd have 3kW in my arse pocket. But that observation about energy dispersal in very concentrated area, sounds credible to me, and with all due respect I don't believe you've given a credible response.

        2. PNGuinn

          ... perhaps you can arrange for the Sun to be fitted with a dimmer switch.

          MMMM ... maybe I'd be better getting my eyes fitted with a dimmer switch - like one of those nice solar powered auto darkening welding helmets.

          Arceyes aint nice.

          I also smell dogs**t somewhere.

      2. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: What did you expect?

        Partially that it's not very useful to compare power density when thinking about heat dissipation (the sun's core has less power density than a mouse, c.f. XKCD while ballpark inaccuracies become more important when you're dealing with things involving exponentials (as heat conductance does).

        Having just looked at a kettle, ~20cm cylinder, somewhere 20-30cm high, 3kW, about 1.6 W cm^-2 to air assuming the base is well insulated, and not accounting for the fairly uneven heat distribution within it if not full.

        Now take into account that the 0.5W cm^-2 figure is assuming the full display is lit at a power intensity to match sunlight. But the luminous efficiency of the OLED display is likely to be higher than sunlight, which has a lot of its power in infra-red and some in UV, rather than tuned to human vision. Factor in also the display is unlikely to be running at max power on all pixels * colours (or there'd be no contrast), so for normal use there's some disregarded multipliers in there. What's important is making sure generated heat gets evened out, avoiding hotspots. So you've got a recipe for something that gets warm, but to a temperature above ambient that's a fraction that of boiling.

        1. Steve Todd Silver badge

          Re: What did you expect?

          That's based on the invalid assumption that a display needs to be as bright as the sun to be visible in sunlight. You need 700 nits (Cd/M^2) to be visible properly in sunlight (source: ), which converts to 0.00010248901903367w/cm^2 (source: That's 0.0030746705710101w for a 30cm^2 panel. Even assuming a rather low efficiency we should be under 1w.

          1. ibmalone Silver badge

            Re: What did you expect?

            You'll probably go too far the other way converting from nits (cd/mm^2) into power per area, as it depends on the spectrum. Which is why you wont find many 'unit converters' that will do it; they're not measuring the same thing. That source quotes 555nm, which is apparently roughly at peak sensitivity for the eye. Need more power for the blue and red.

            1. Steve Todd Silver badge

              Re: What did you expect? @ibmalome

              Not that big a difference. Yes, the eye is less sensitive to other frequencies, but only by a factor of 5 in the worst case (for blue spectrum light). Assuming a pure blue image we’re still only talking about 0.015 watts of light for a 700 nit display. At a 10% efficiency that’s still only 0.15 watts of power needed. We’re a long way short of significant heating here.

              1. ibmalone Silver badge

                Re: What did you expect? @ibmalome

                At a 10% efficiency that’s still only 0.15 watts of power needed. We’re a long way short of significant heating here.

                Certainly not quibbling with that

        2. PNGuinn

          the sun's core has less power density than a mouse ....

          A minor point, but less of the mice already.

          Stick to swallows.

          Then we can all ask the obvious question beloved of all commentards.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google following crApple.

    Overpriced, overhyped tat bought by idiots.


  11. wolfetone Silver badge

    "Google said in a statement. "We put all of our products through extensive quality testing before launch"

    Do you though?

    Do you really? Honestly?

    I don't think you do.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge


      "Google said in a statement. "We put all of our products through extensive quality testing before launch"

      Probably using the same Quality Testing Protocol that let through the Apple death grip feature

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. burn-in

    Samsung displays use a plasticised graphene heat spreader on the back to reduce heat build-up.

    IIRC they got around the need for this by increasing OLED efficiency on newer panels but it still has a copper sheet (S8) and some burn-in results.

    Interestingly the problems reported suggest that maybe they should rethink thermal issues.

    Simply driving the blue less strongly might help but that would also affect colour temperature, appears that the "off centre" effect is due to the panel construction and light reflecting off backplane differently for each colour.

  13. Ralph the Wonder Llama


    What do you expect for a mere $849? Cheapskates.

  14. Neil 32

    Makes me wonder about the quality of LG displays. I have the Urbane watch (don't laugh - as long as you don't expect it to do everything it's not a bad bit of kit) which is 2 years old and shows quite a bit of screen burn when looking at screens of mostly 1 colour. It's also the first device I think I've ever had that's suffered from dead pixels; and there are quite a few rather than just 1 or 2.

  15. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Nokia N8, eh?

    OLED and never had this problem.

    They don't make them like that any more.

  16. CraPo

    Back in the way?

    1. Tromos

      Re: Back in the way?

      Of course, I did it my day.

  17. Mage Silver badge

    OLED: Prettier but shorter life than LCD

    AMOLED / OLED isn't the same technology as regular LEDs, it's more related to Electroluminescent panels (pre-date LED and LCD). Also real LED panels (usually wall sized, but Sony "Crystal" is home display sized) use real Red, Green, Blue LEDs. OLED panels, like CRTs use phosphors (though not the same kind) on each electroluminescent dot. So they have both "phosphor" screen burn and short life compared to LCD.

    LCD uses coloured filters on the front of a monchrome LCD that is back or edge lit. The dyes can fade if the backlight is very bright or there is direct sunlight, so an image can be burnt in on an LCD panel used say as a Call Centre wall status display, though not as fast as on CRTs and OLED panels.

    OLED panels have short life due to the unequal ageing of the phosphors. The colour though is naturally much better than an LCD, just like LCD struggles to beat CRT and Plasma for colour saturation and true contrast.

    1. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: OLED: Prettier but shorter life than LCD

      And yet, my > 4 year old OLED phone has no noticeable burn. In hardware test with a blue test screen the narrow strip at the top for the status bar is just about discernible (oddly, that's usually darker than the rest, so not sure what's going on there), not on any other colours. So it is possible to get decent life out of them. Regardless it can happen, so one argument for sticking with capacitive buttons rather than on-screen to get a slightly larger display with burnt in images at one end.

  18. ridley

    Railway crossings

    I used to work for a company that amongst many things was proposing to supply CCTV camera etc to railway crossings as it had become apparent that the old ones needed updating as you could no longer tell if the barrier had been closed or not....

  19. Pirate Dave

    Blue tinge???

    "The Pixel 2 XL, which costs $849, has already raised eyebrows with the blue tinge to its plastic OLED screen."

    So to make a Pixel 2 XL, you take a Pixel 2 and give it a Viagra? Makes everything blue-tinged, and much larger than normal. Or so I've heard.

  20. regprentice

    I had an lg g4 which i felt had bad screen burn. Then i realised over time that the shadow image changed and it seemed to be more of a shadow of what had recently been on the screen than a permanent burnt image. From looking at forums it seemed to be a common issue.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Public Beta Testers

    This is what we have early adopters for.

  22. Conundrum1885

    In related news

    I am after some S6 (not edge) screen assemblies, also one for an S7.

    Not bothered if the glass is cracked slightly or screen is burned to hell and back as I only want to get these working for development purposes for my SPECTRE/Meltdown patch.

    If anyone has a spare panel for these please let me know as its really hard to develop code when you can't see the screen.

    Obviously if someone can help I'd send them a copy of said patch for third party testing.

    message to anarchy 2012 rat hotnail dot co drat uk

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