If you’re having microphone issues with your Google Pixel or Pixel XL smartphone, you are not alone. A quick trip over to the official Pixel support forum shows over 800 replies in a thread dedicated to the problem.
“After a few hours of use and set up the microphone stopped working entirely, except when recording video upon which it'll record audio fine as if nothing were wrong,” wrote Joseph, the thread originator. “I factory reset the phone and the issue still persists everywhere but the camera app.”
Numerous other users have chimed in with their own microphone issues that either mirror Joseph’s experience, differ ever so slightly, or are even worse. The reason for the varying degrees of severity comes from the fact that there are three microphones on the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphone. Depending on the situation, one or all three microphones may be affected.
Google engineer Brian Rakowski has identified the problem, writing:
The most common problem is a hairline crack in the solder connection on the audio codec. This will affect all three mics and may result in other issues with audio processing. This problem tends to be transient because of the nature of the crack. Based on temperature changes or the way you hold the phone, the connection may be temporarily restored and the problems may go away. This is especially frustrating as a user because, just when you think you've got it fixed, the problem randomly comes back.
According to Rakowski, the issue is only affecting less than 1 percent of all Pixel smartphones out in the wild, but that’s usually the standard corporate response for a manufacturer dealing with hardware defects. He also goes on to state that Google has taken steps to ensure that Pixel and Pixel XL smartphone manufactured since January 2017 have the solder connection reinforced to prevent the troublesome hairline cracks. It should also be noted that are are no signs that this defect is in anyway software-related.
For those that are afflicted with this problem, Rakowski suggests that you first attempt to take the phone back to the point of purchase for a direct replacement. That is the faster option, but if that isn’t possible, you can return the phone directly to Google after which it will ship you a replacement phone. However, this option will take “a couple of weeks” which is probably untenable for our smartphone-obsessed culture if you don’t have a suitable backup device.