Google Has One Urgent Problem To Fix For The Pixel 8

Apple’s iPhone 14 isn’t the only 2022 smartphone with battery issues. Google’s Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro have been plagued by overheating and rapid battery drain complaints in the last couple of months, too.

It all kicked off after the June security patch update, which appeared to leave hundreds of Pixel 7 owners with overheated phones and shorter battery life. Redditor’s complained that the Pixel 7’s power pack was rapidly draining—even when idle—with one describing it as “unbearably bad” after the update. Pixel 5 and Pixel 6 owners also had similar complaints. Google didn’t respond to my request for comment about this at the time.

Google’s next update, the July security patch, included a fix for “general improvements for charging, battery usage or thermal performance in certain conditions,” according to the release notes. This seems to have improved the issue for some, but continued the problem for others.

One of the top trending posts on the Google Pixel product forums right now is about excessive battery drain after the July update, with 565 people (up from 511 two days ago) saying they have the same issue.

A battery related megathread on the Google Pixel subreddit has over 150 responses, with many complaining about excessive battery drain after the July patch. One even said they’d consider leaving Android all together because of this. In another Reddit post about what people want to see in the upcoming Pixel 8, the top voted comment, from a Pixel 7 owner, is a wishlist of battery improvements.

It’s not entirely clear what’s happening with the Pixel 7’s power pack. Lithium-ion batteries naturally degrade over time and we are close to one full year since the Pixel 7 launched, which could be behind the complaints.

But I noticed problems with my Pixel 7 Pro’s battery life back in May—seven months after launch—and the fact that there was a sudden deluge of complaints after two updates is a cause for concern. The size of the battery on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro aren’t the issue (4355mAh and 5000mAh respectively). The 7 Pro’s battery is larger than the one in the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, which so far lasts longer and has to power an additional screen.

The Pixel 6 Pro had similarly unpredictable battery life. Whether it’s an efficiency issue related to the new Tensor chipset, or an unexpected quirk from a software update, this is clearly an area Google needs to focus on for the upcoming Pixel 8.

I feel like I type this sentence once a year, but Google has a history of device defining problems. The Pixel 6 had a frustratingly unreliable in-screen fingerprint scanner, the Pixel 5 had a “screen gap” (video below), the Pixel 3 had memory management problems and the Pixel 2’s display had a blue tint.

I didn’t mention the Pixel 4 in that list because it was one of the few Google releases that was nearly flawless. And while I doubt the company will bring back the 3D face unlock feature that made it one of my favourite smartphones, this is the final urgent tweak that’s necessary for the Pixel 8, because Google has nailed almost every other area.

The Pixel 7 Pro’s camera takes the best shots in the industry, the design is premium, as is the increasingly refined stock Android experience. The quarterly feature drops are a nice way to keep the phone fresh and the unique AI-powered picture editing and phone call features are genuinely useful. I hope the Pixel 8 borrows some of the Pixel 4’s magic because better battery life is a fundamental feature and it appears to be the only thing holding the Pixel line back right now.


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