The Pixel 7 is the latest smartphone with snappy camerasThank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Last year’s Pixel 7’s biggest design change was in the camera band, which went from one large sheet of glass covering each camera to a solid aluminum block with smaller glass cutouts above each camera lens. The thinking at the time was that less glass would result in less light streaking in the camera and maybe even a little better durability thanks to the smaller glass area. Ironically, this smaller glass seems to be more prone to breaking. Tons of reports started popping up Redditon Google Support Forumsand Twitter claiming that the camera glass just broke one day. Besides the hundreds of responses on Reddit and support forums, hit up #pixel7brokencamera on Twitter will give you an endless stream of gruesome photos.
We’ve seen this exact problem several times before in the smartphone world. Samsung was affected by this problem in 2016 on Galaxy S7 and again in 2021 Galaxy S20, both started class actions. In the Samsung and Google cases, the broken glass doesn’t look like it was broken by impact, which usually indicates a point of impact and an external spider web. In these cases, a large round hole appears in the glass – it looks like the phone was shot with a bullet.
These specialized smartphone glass panels increase scratch resistance with building tension in the glass. We don’t know the manufacturer of Google’s camera glass, but a Corning engineer explains the general process involved Scientific American article that says, “There is a layer of compressive stress, then a layer of central stress where the glass wants to push out, then another layer of compressive stress.” If you mess up something in your glass formula and those layers aren’t in perfect balance, one day the glass will just “pop” and you’ll get these outer mini explosions.
This sounds like what people are describing, with some suspect temperature changes from cool weather outdoors to heat indoors is what repels the glass. To suppose it was from a drop would be rather hard to believe. The camera cover is a small circle of glass surrounded by aluminum – even if you were trying to get the phone to land on the camera cover, it would be extremely difficult.
Although it’s hard to imagine that this is user abuse, some users say that Google is not addressing the issue under warranty. Alex Hatzenbuehler, one of the victims of the Google glass explosion, post a screenshot from google device support claiming the issue is not covered under warranty. Some users are quoted around $200 for repair.
Samsung’s class action lawsuits over the camera glass were both neutralized thanks to Samsung’s Terms of Service, which require “mandatory individual arbitration provision and class action/litigation relief provision.” Google defaults users to a such agreement that it provides them with almost no rights, but you can opt out of binding arbitration, most people don’t, so a lawsuit is unlikely to get anywhere.
What arbitration cannot stop is the online pressure and negative press from websites like this one. So hey Google, cover your apparently defective hardware with a warranty. The Pixel hardware division is very small and wants to grow, but you won’t get anywhere if you start screwing over your small customer base. A public statement saying this is covered under warranty would help people with customer support. You have our email.
List image from blazers_n_bowties
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