[Update: fix incoming] Google replacing Pixel 2 units with sensitive proximity sensors

Update (March 07):

Google will be rolling out a fix for proximity sensor issues in the coming months. Head here for more information.

Update (February 02):

Google employee Orrin (who is also the Community Manager at Pixel User Community) updated a few hours back that the concerned team is looking into the matter.

The team is still looking into this. I’m going to reach out to you privately to get some additional bug reports


Original story:

Let’s get directly into the skin of the problem. For over past two months, Pixel 2 users have been heading to different help forums to voice proximity sensor related issues plaguing their devices. What makes the story worth a coverage is that Google has been silently replacing the affected units.

Proximity sensor, as most of you may probably know, detects objects in the nearby field. And talking about smartphones, the sensor plays a major role in bringing the device’s screen to life. But of late, this hardware component has been troubling some Pixel 2 users.

What’s being chimed is that the sensor has gone extra sensitive, and does not function properly in scenarios such as during calls. The screen remains completely black/non-interactive when the phone is moved away from the ear, effectively rendering the device useless for the time being.

Now since the issue is with proximity sensor, it also affects the Ambient Display feature with users saying AD either becomes unresponsive or gets turned off. Some of the users went ahead and tested the proximity sensor multiple times using apps (like Sensor Test and AndroSensor) and found consistently that the sensor reads or shows 0cm/NEAR, meaning it’s detecting something nearby.

We have complied a list of user comments that will give you an even better idea of the problem.

It happened on my Pixel 2 after I upgraded to 8.1. The screen refuse to turn back on during/after a phone call, even if the phone is not against my face. Never had this problem before the update

Having the same problem. Unable to go away from black screen during a call and double tap to wake won’t work as well as the fingerprint reader. Therefore I have to wait for the other person to hang up. Very frustrating

Having the always-on display not work is a minor inconvenience but not being able to see the display *at all* when on a phone call is extremely annoying. It’s not possible to switch over to speaker-phone or press any keys for touch-tone menus. This also happens while in safe-mode so I don’t think it is app related. It started happening as soon as it was updated to 8.1 and happens on every call (even listening to voicemails or whatsapp voice calls). The AOD disappears after about 10 seconds

Proximity sensor always triggers screen to turn off during phone calls regardless of phone being on my face or not.

I don’t have a screen protector, but the sensor is showing ‘NEAR’ all of the time (tested with Sensor test from play store). This causes the AOD to be unresponsive and turn off, double tap to wake doesn’t work, screen turns off immediately after i do / take a call and I can’t do anything until the call ends. Running 8.1 via OTA on Pixel 2 XL. PS i flashed factory 8.0 and everything worked fine

As can be seen in the above comments (and lot of others that we went through), most of the users say they started facing the problem after upgrading to Android 8.1, with some even mentioning the problem exists in safe mode as well and goes away if you downgrade to 8.0.

It’s worth mentioning that the problem is affecting Pixel 2 units regardless of screen protectors. Although interestingly, for some of the units with screen protectors on, the issue got resolved after the accessory was removed. Plus there have also been conflicting reports about the matter getting resolved by cleaning the proximity sensor area.

Got mine working again. My thought is that the update made the proximity sensor reeeaaalllyy sensitive. Like, to the point where a smudge is triggering to register as “near”. A thorough cleaning with a microfiber cloth fixed it

Cleaning mine works as well….until the very next time I put my phone to my ear, then it all stops working again. Maybe I need to clean the side of my head with glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth as well, haha

Given the kind of reports, it’s difficult to conclude whether the issue is related to hardware or software. However, Google seems to be confident that it’s a hardware issue, evident from the fact that several affected users have confirmed they have received replacement units from the company. Reportedly the new models (also running Android 8.1) are free of this proximity sensor issue.

I had this issue with my Pixel 2 XL as well. I RMA’d it. My replacement running the same software (Android 8.1 / Jan 5 patch) doesn’t have this issue

I couldn’t take it any longer. I RMA’d. Received the new phone today. Updated to 8.1 January 5 patch. Problem is solved. It seems there must be a hardware component in addition to the software. Problem started for me at 8.1 update, but if another phone with the same software doesn’t have this problem, then there must also be an issue with some p2XLs hardwar

After waiting for a fix or even official acknowledgement of this issue for too long, I contacted support and tried to describe the issue. It was a bit tricky but they agreed to RMA the device and sent me a new one. I can confirm that after updating the replacement phone to 8.1 it does NOT have this issue, so there must be some hardware defect/incompatibility on some phones and 8.1

I had this issue with my Pixel 2 XL as well. I RMA’d it. My replacement running the same software (Android 8.1 / Jan 5 patch) doesn’t have this issue

Yup had this issue ever since 8.1. they are RMAing and there has been a few people saying doesn’t happen in newer phone

Just to confirm RMA fixed the issue. Must be partially hardware related. As an update, the new P2XL works fine with the proximity sensor so if anyone has an issue with theirs that isn’t resolved by cleaning or removing a case you might need to RMA the phone

If you ask us, we would suggest those affected should at least try for RMA as there is good possibility that Google will provide a replacement unit. We are not sure whether or not there’s a software fix for this issue – for what it’s worth, over at Google’s issue tracking website a company employee has just said:

We have passed this to the development team and will update this issue with more information as it becomes available

No update has been provided as of writing.

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Dr. Aparajita Sharma

A budding entrepreneur by profession, and a psychologist by education. As a founding member of PiunikaWeb, I am nurturing this firstborn with my sharp-eyed expertise and even journalistic writing when needed.