Google has addressed concerns over the screen quality of its new Pixel 2 XL smartphone, after reviewers and customers alike grumbled about colors and how they appeared.
A software update released on November 7 removes the 'vivid colors' option from the phone's settings menu, adding three new options instead. These are 'boosted', 'natural' and 'saturated'.
After installing the update on our Pixel 2 XL, it looks as if 'boosted' is very similar to the 'vivid colors' from before, while 'neutral' tones everything down a little. The new 'saturated' setting makes the most difference, ramping up color strength and making images feel more punchy and vibrant.
Even with this mode selected, the Pixel 2 XL doesn't match the retina-searing saturation of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8, where artificially-boosted colors promote wow-factor over accuracy. However, the new setting makes a noticeable difference, likely adopted by owners who want to feel they're getting the most out of the Pixel's OLED display.
We get the feeling that Google was trying to make a stand against artificial saturation with the Pixel 2. For years Samsung phones have kidded us into thinking our photos are more punchy than they truly are. But by reining things in, Google made its phone look a little too plain.
'Fine, have your inaccurate, saturated colors...'GearBrain
While Google made the change, the company described the brighter color option as "less accurate," in its statement — almost chiding customers who want this option.
"Color mode is really a user choice," Google says. "Many users prefer accurate colors; others prefer more saturated colors. What we've found is that you can become acclimatized to either."
Google adds: "The saturated mode puts the display into an unmanaged configuration, similar to how the Pixel 1 operates. The colors will be more saturated and vibrant, but less accurate (similar to more other smartphones which display more vibrant colors.)"
The 60MB update takes around 25 minutes to install (at least in our experience), and includes measures to help prevent screen burn-in. Reviewers found their Pixel 2 XL screens retained faint outlines of objects no longer intended to be on the screen, a feature of OLED displays. For example, the navigation bar at the foot of the display could be seen against a grey background when it shouldn't have been there. Burn-in like this eventually happens to OLED screens, but should not appear within a matter of days.
To help prevent this, Google has added an instruction for the navigation bar to fade out after a period of inactivity. Maximum screen brightness — not a strong point of the Pixel 2 to start with — has been reduced slightly. However, with saturation increased this isn't particularly obvious.
Finally, the update also addresses a clicking noise emitted by the smaller Pixel 2.