Google Pixel 2 XL display reportedly has “black smear” issues

Users are reporting yet another issue with display on the new Google Pixel 2 XL. Called a black smear issue, the problem manifests itself as a blur or smear whenever a dark color object moves on the screen and leaves a temporary trail behind.

Lets play a fun game called watch a Pixel 2 XL become a blue blob on a Pixel 2 XL

Stephen Hall (@hallstephenj) October 24, 2017

In a Twitter thread Stephen Hall of 9to5Google clearly shows the smear around the dark Pixel 2 XL on the screen as it scrolls up and down. He also demonstrated this in another example, which can be seen below. Hall outlined the exact brightness settings that this happens at and also mentioned that his colleague also has the issue but its not anywhere near as bad as his.

Looks even worse here. Seriously for a second I thought did the Reddit app add animations to video thumbnails?

Nope. 30% brightness btw.

Stephen Hall (@hallstephenj) October 23, 2017

The issue here seems to be due to poor response time. A response time of a display is the time it takes to switch colors. Measured in milliseconds, an ideal response time would be 0ms but since we dont live in an ideal world, displays with really high response times are usually around 2-5ms, with anything under 10ms being acceptable. Beyond that, a display is still usable but has issues with fast moving images, such as games or videos.

With the Pixel 2 XL display, it seems the response time isnt quite high. This used to be issue on older Samsung AMOLED panels but Samsung dealt with that years ago.

Its unclear if this is something that can be fixed in software as the response time of a panel is usually tied to the quality of the hardware but some tweaks could help reduce its impact. Also, as mentioned before, not everyone seems to have this issue or at least, not everyone will notice it, so theres that.

Still, for anyone looking to buy the Pixel 2 XL and cares about display quality, it may be safer to wait and see how this pans out.