A few weeks ago I became the proud owner of Google’s new Pixel smart-phone. I was quickly impressed with Google’s first attempt at their own-branded smartphone. Coming from a Samsung Galaxy S5 (also using Android), the transition wasn’t too drastic. The much hyped Google Assistant wasn’t really that different from the various Google search tools existing Android phones include.
It’d been a while since I’d invested heavily in a phone, so I went all-out with accessories; buying a Live-case, and Google’s Daydream View (VR headset). Live-cases are made-to order, and after a lengthy journey from China, it arrived a week or so after the phone. Live-cases include an RFID chip and button that when pressed, helps you to install it. It also pulls in accompanying images to use as a wallpaper, giving your Pixel a continuous theme around all edges. I played around a bit with the Daydream View, using YouTube VR, and Google Earth, mostly. Believe me when I say though, that this phone gets very hot when doing VR and 360 stuff, and obviously your battery will drain pretty fast. I didn’t get much use before the problems started…
There were a few times I went to use Google Assistant and you’d stand there talking to your phone like an idiot, wondering why it wasn’t responding. I didn’t think much about it at first, but then I started to look up troubleshooting tips for Google Assistant; sometimes I got it to work, but it was quite a few days afterwards that something suddenly dawned on me out of the blue.
I realised I wasn’t actually using any other app or feature that required voice, so I quickly pulled up a search app that had migrated via the Samsung transfer, then tested sound recording using the camera. They confirmed it, something that I’d have realised a lot sooner if I actually made calls; my phone’s mic was refusing to work altogether.
Armed with this new knowledge, I changed my searches for general microphone failure and came across this thread in Google’s product forums. Hundreds of people suffering similar problems, which to this day (12/02/17), there doesn’t seem to be a definitive cause for. I found, along with others that the problem could often be temporarily resolved with a restart. But another use of the mic would usually prevent it working any further. A Google support guy posting on the Pixel forum however, insists the problem is hardware related. I went into Google’s support chat via my phones settings and twice went through a long-winded diagnostic routine. The second helper never sent me an email so I could report the results of a factory data reset; which meant the possibility of having to repeat it all again.
Third time lucky, I got someone based in the UK. I told him everything straight, and he processed a replacement phone to be sent from Google. It’s worth noting, that Google’s “official” stance on this from what I’ve seen in many posts on the forum, seems to be that replacements should be handled by the phone provider. I did actually go into Carphone Warehouse whilst in the chat with this guy, and they told me I was best of sticking to Google directly, as it cut out various middlemen. I think this stance is relatively recent, probably due to the amount of phone replacements being requested.
My Pixel mkII
So, 3 weeks with my second Google Pixel and everything seems to be good. I do nervously check the mic every now and then (some people have reportedly had 2/3 phones with the same problem). I also haven’t used my Daydream View with this one yet, as that “Google support guy” on the forum claimed the problem is hardware related, a dodgy connection caused by heat changes. I’m still sceptical about this because of how reproducible mine was through restarts; nevertheless out of fear of the crazy heat VR generates, I’ve avoided it thus far.
Some box and installation images (excuse the quality – I took them with my tablet’s camera as my S5’s camera lens is scratched)
What’s in the box:
- Instructions with simcard removal tool
- USB-C to USB-standard cable
- USB-C to USB-C (for charging)
- USB-C power adapter/plug
- OTG dongle (USB-C to USB-standard)
The Pixel notably doesn’t come with earphones (in the UK at least). It’s more convenient party piece, for me anyway, was the USB-C to USB-standard cable; coupled with the OTG dongle. This allows you to connect your Pixel to any other USB device; allowing for painless data transfers without messing around with various Cloud backups, etc from the start.
Once the weather improves, I’ll be out getting plenty of use of the camera; and a lot of my upcoming game/app reviews and videos will be Daydream VR related. Just as soon as I bite the bullet and use it again!