Pixel 5a Camera Overheating Bug Explored, Does Google Have A Problem?

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Earlier this week, a report surfaced that alleged that Google's new Pixel 5a mid-range smartphone has a serious problem. However, it isn't a case of falling behind in benchmarks or issues with build quality (as has been the case with previous Pixel devices) but instead deals with shooting 4K video at 60 fps.

Android Police first picked up reports from Twitter concerning Pixel 5a review units that would overheat while shooting 4K video, resulting in the following error message: "Device is too hot. Close Camera until device cools off." Such a warning is quite peculiar for a device that hails 4K video recording as one of its selling points and is something that Pixel users will likely want to use on occasion.

The publication stated that the Pixel 5a threw up the warning message after just over 5 minutes of 4K recording in its testing. Intrigued by these results, we decided to see if this overheating phenomenon affected the two Pixel 5a review units that we have in-house for testing.

Our own Myriam Joire, who penned our extensive review of the Pixel 5a, received an overheating message after just 6 minutes of recording 4K60 video with an ambient temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Myriam noted that the device was not hot to the touch, but it nonetheless gave up. HotHardware editor-in-chief Dave Altavilla was able to verify the issue after multiple tests -- giving the device sufficient time to cool down in between each run -- and witnessed failure at between 5 to 8 minutes.

This is an interesting problem with the Pixel 5a and could simply be a software bug. We say that because the device doesn't get hot or even warm to the touch during 4K60 recording. Some have suggested that the Pixel 5a's lack of the dedicated Pixel Neural Core hardware and reliance solely on its Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G for video processing could be the culprit. However, we haven't heard instances of other Snapdragon 765G devices having the same issue while recording.

Another possibility is that the onboard flash storage is overheating due to the heavy writes required for 4K recording. Again, this is just pure speculation at this point, but we've reached out to Google for comment on the issue and will update this story if and when we get a response.