Everything you need to know about the Google Pixel 2 XL’s display woes

The Google Pixel 2 series was met with near-universal acclaim upon launch, but even from then it was clear the displays would be, umm, divisive.

In particular, the XL’s LG-made display has been a point of frustration, arguments, and overall frumpiness due to a combination of Google’s software and hardware choices. I called it my favorite phone of the year in my review, but have been disheartened by some of the drama surrounding the display. So now I’m here to break down the severity of the issues.

The TL;DR: Much of the furor over the display is hyperbolic, but Google also made some poor design choices regarding color management. Instances of early onset burn-in and/or image retention, however, are serious issues Google needs to remedy. Thankfully, the company is taking at least some steps to ameliorate these problems.

The Pixel 2 XL’s display isn’t the best in a flagship, but it’s also not the worst, and for most people, will likely not be a dealbreaker. This post is not meant to turn around anyone who is disappointed with their Pixel 2 XL’s display, but I do hope to provide some perspective for prospective buyers so they can decide for themselves whether the Pixel 2 XL is worth their money.

Color accuracy over spectacle

The first thing I noticed about the Pixel 2 XL’s display is that the colors are less vibrant than what I’m used to on virtually every other OLED panel – and even many LCDs. This is also somewhat the case on the smaller Pixel 2, but to a lesser degree (more on this later).

However, Google says it’s a design choice, as it decided to promote color accuracy over spectacle – even if it means colors appear a bit dull compared to what you’re used to on other devices. According to the company, the displays are tuned to closely match the sRGB color space – the traditional color gamut used on the Web and a myriad of devices – despite supporting a much wider range of colors (93 and 100 percent of DCI-P3 on the Pixel 2 and XL, respectively).