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Google Pixel: Quick Fixes for Common Issues

Google Pixel phones may be one of the best Android phones available in the market, but they are not immune to system-related and hardware-related issues. Anything from malfunctioning apps, incompatible software, broken or faulty hardware, conflicting settings, or even the absence of software updates can cause your device to act less than normal. Allow us to show you some of the most effective solutions to the most common and frustrating problems that you may have with your Pixel smartphone.

 

Google Pixel Phone
Photo by Sebastian Bednarek

 

What Is Google Pixel?

Google Pixel is the flagship series for consumer electronic devices from Google. Google intended for the brand to encompass essentials in consumer electronics like laptops, smartphones, and tablets. These devices are all powered by either Android OS or Chrome OS systems. The Chrome OS is a simple but sophisticated operating system that’s built specifically to boost your productivity. Check out this list of the best Chromebooks to maximize your Google experience.

Google introduced the Pixel brand back in 2013 with the arrival of the Chromebook Pixel. The Chromebook Pixel is one of the higher-end products belonging to the Chromebook family of machines. It was not until the year 2016, three years after the release of Chromebook Pixel, when Google unveiled the first line of smartphones under the Pixel brand.  Since then, Google has released a total of seven smartphone variations with Android 10 or 11 configurations.

 

What Are the Best Features of Google Pixel?

Google Pixel on Table
Photo by Obi Onyeador

 

The Google Pixel smartphone perfectly balances efficiency, beauty, and functionality. The smartphones have a common thread in being a fast, responsive, and sturdy smartphone. The latest flagship smartphone is Google Pixel 5. Like its predecessors, Google Pixel 5 features a smooth touchscreen and interface, sturdy hardware, excellent camera configurations, and Google Assistant. The Pixel 5 is waterproof and has support for wireless charging. It also features Face Unlock that essentially replaces your passcode with a real-time face scan to open your phone.

Google invested heavily in the camera functions of the Pixel phones, and to good effect. The cameras are able to point and shoot quickly and without blurring, and the resulting photos are equally clear and vibrant for close-up and landscape photos. The camera also does a good job of maximizing available light under low-light conditions along with 4K video capture and streaming capabilities.

The Google Pixel smartphones are also the first line of phones with deep integration with Google Assistant. Google Assistant is a digital assistant powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The software has many abilities, including but not limited to setting visual reminders, looking up facts from the internet, adjusting hardware settings on the device, and giving directions.

Perhaps the most unique and notable ability of the digital assistant is its capability for engaging in two-way conversations. In fact, many users find its ability to interact more intuitive and responsive than Amazon’s Alexa. We also need to add in machine-learning abilities that allow the digital assistant to learn your voice and provide you with customized recommendations and alerts. If you’re not entirely convinced about the supremacy of Google Assistant, read this comparative analysis of Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana.

 

Other Features of Google Pixel

Google Pixel with Glasses
Photo by Luca

 

Google Pixel phones also benefit from excellent apps that come from Google. At the forefront of the Google app lineup is Google Maps, which is hands-down the best navigation app available on the market today. Check out these Google Maps hacks showcasing the hidden gems of the software. Pixel phones are also equipped with global positioning system (GPS) functions that allow them to track the full extent of your movements on a map across time. This GPS location history appears in the form of a marked map, showing all the routes and paths that you’ve taken in the city or elsewhere. Check out this guide on how to manage your location history on Google Maps.

Aside from that, Google Pixel phones are also optimally designed to act as central command for the Google Home hub system. This system allows you to control various smart devices in your home including robot vacuum cleaners, smart lights, smart thermostats, door locks, and more. The Google Pixel line is also expected to benefit from the experimental and highly advanced augmented reality (AR). AR technology will make use of the combined powers of GPS and Google’s Street View to provide interactive and real-time directions via visual cues, and to help a person find a location using the same.

The next generation of Google Pixel phones is expected to carry AR technology, along with other features that have yet to be revealed. If AR technology sounds interesting to you, go ahead and check out this piece explaining exactly what Google AR maps can do, and how it can change the way people navigate.

 

What Are the Common Issues With Google Pixel and How Can You Fix Them?

 

1. Pixel Phone Not Charging Correctly/Poor Battery Life

Google Pixel Charging
Photo by Hasan Albari

 

Google Pixel phones are fitted out with 2,770 mAh batteries and battery-optimized software. Battery types of this kind normally last for two days straight without having to recharge, but of course, battery drainage also depends on the RAM and CPU usage of the collective apps on the device. You never really know when there could be battery-draining applications or misbehaving applications that are causing your phone to lose power much faster. So let’s say your batteries just got drained. But it still won’t charge the moment you’ve plugged it in.

Here are a few quick fixes you can take to fix the issue:

  1. Force reboot your Google Pixel. Remember that Pixel doesn’t have a removable battery, so you cannot simply take the battery out to fix minor firmware problems like crashes and freezing. As an alternative, you’re going to need to force reboot your phone. Click on the Power button and press on it for 10 seconds. The device should automatically reboot.
  2. Purchase a power adapter with power delivery (PD). These power-charged devices can deliver up to 60 watts of power output or more. If your local tech store doesn’t have one, you can check out the online Google store or other retail stores with Google products.
  3. Google recently rolled out an update that includes a solution for this issue, and it seems to work for most users. Get the latest update with the following steps: Settings > System > Advanced > System Update > Check for Update.
  4. Try your charger with a different wall outlet or with another device. The wall outlet or your charger may be defective. If it works on another wall outlet or on another device, it’s not the charger that’s defective.

 

2. Unable to Make Calls or Receive Audio From the Receiver

Phone Calls Pixel Phone
Photo by Kaboompics

 

Carrying out a phone call is one of the basic reasons why phones exist in the first place, and it can be unnerving when you can’t hear or speak to the person on the other end. There are several potential causes for this, but the most common reason would be corrupted and misbehaving apps. It’s also possible that your phone’s microphone stopped working, a serious hardware issue that needs to be fixed in the store.

Check out some of these steps to get the problem fixed:

  • Disable the Bluetooth connectivity of your phone. Go to Settings> Bluetooth and slide the button to the left to turn it off.
  • Force reboot your Google Pixel. Click on the Power button and press on it for10 seconds. The device should automatically reboot.
  • If you suspect that the microphone is not working, bring your phone to your local tech provider or to a Google store for repair.

 

3. Home Buttons and Recent App Buttons Not Working

Google Pixel Apps
Photo by Torsten Dettlaff

 

Some users have found themselves in a situation where the device restarts upon tapping the notification under the notification shade. Afterward, the Home and Recent apps keys stop functioning. Here a few quick fixes you can take to fix the issue:

  • Get help from the Nova Launcher app:
    1. Download and install the Nova Launcher app from the Google Play store.
    2. Open the launcher and set it as the default.
    3. Hold down on empty space > Widgets.
    4. Scroll down to Nova and drag the Activities widget out to your home screen somewhere.
    5. Scroll down to Setup Wizard, expand it and hold down on “SetupWizardUpgradeActivity”
    6. Complete the setup options and everything should go back to working normally.
  • Reset your phone to factory settings.
    1. Open your phone’s Settings app.
    2. Select the System > Advanced > Reset options.
    3. Tap Erase all data or reset the phone. Key in PIN if the software asks for it.
    4. Tap on Erase everything.

 

4. “OK Google” Command Not Working

Google Assistant
Photo by Sebastian Scholz

 

Google Assistant has plenty of potential for being a substitute for human contact and live internet searches, and it can feel like an intimate relationship with a friend whenever you bring up Google Assistant using the “OK Google” command. But if Google Assistant doesn’t respond, you know immediately that there’s something wrong. Here a few quick fixes you can take to fix the issue:

Check that Google Assistant Is Turned On

To do this, click on the Home button and hold to it for a few seconds. If you’re asked to turn on Google Assistant, tap on Turn on. If Google Assistant is already turned on, you’ll be able to see it in the notification bar.

 

Enable OK Google Command

Here’s how:

    1. Click on the Home button and hold onto it for a few seconds.
    2. Click on the Compass icon on the bottom right corner.
    3. Select your profile picture or initials on the top right.
    4. Click on Settings, followed by Assistant.
    5. Scroll down to the Assistant devices, then select your device from the list of options.
    6. Toggle the Google Assistant toolbar from the upper portion of the screen.
    7. Under the Voice Match section, turn on the Access with Voice Match function.

 

Turn Off Battery Saver

Battery-saving apps can automatically turn off background applications that you don’t appear to need. Sometimes that includes Google Assistant. Turn the battery-saving mode off with these steps:

    1. Open the Settings app.
    2. Click on Battery.
      • For Adaptive Battery: Click on Adaptive Battery, then toggle Use Adaptive Battery off.
      • For Battery Saver: Click on Battery Saver, then tap Turn off Now.

 

Ensure the Google App is Up-to-Date

Here’s how to get the latest update for the Google app:

    1. Open the Play Store.
    2. Search for the Google app.
    3. On the Google app page, tap Update.
    4. If you see Open instead of Update, you already have the latest version installed.

 

If all of the above fails, you can also try to follow standard debugging procedures.

 

5. Poor Wi-Fi or no Wi-Fi Connection

Internet Connection
Photo by Mika Baumeister

 

Having an internet connection, regardless of what device you’re using, is always very important. But there are always instances when the basic smartphone can no longer perform the most basic functions, which can also happen when it’s trying to connect to a network. If your new device is suddenly unable to connect to the internet, here a few quick fixes you can take:

  • Force reboot your Google Pixel. If the problem occurs for the first time without any apparent reason or cause, rebooting your phone is the first recourse. Corrupted or malicious apps can sometimes affect your device’s basic functions and services, including internet connectivity. Click on the Power button and press on it for10 seconds. The device should automatically reboot.
  • Toggle Wi-Fi feature on and off under Settings. More often than not, it’s not actually your phone that’s the problem. Routers and modems can get stuck in a state of limbo sometimes, and you can give them a push by refreshing the firmware.
  • Reboot your device into safe mode. Sometimes problematic apps are at the heart of the issue, and if restarting your device or firmware hasn’t worked, you could try to connect using safe mode. Here’s how:
    1. Click on the Power button and hold onto it until the Google logo appears. Once the Google logo appears, press the Volume down button. Make sure to catch the Google logo while it’s onscreen.
    2. Continue to press down on Volume down until the “Safe mode” notification appears. Once in safe mode, try reconnecting your device to the internet.
  • Here are other things potential solutions you could try:
    1. Connect your Google Pixel to another Wi-Fi network (to rule out your phone as the source of the problem)
    2. Boot your phone back into factory settings (to clear malfunctioning apps)
    3. Make sure that the Airplane mode is turned off (because this automatically shuts down Wi-Fi devices on most devices)

 

6. Texts or Messages Can’t Be Sent or Received

Text Message
Photo by Jae Park

 

Sending and receiving messages is one of the basic features that people look for in a mobile phone. Text messaging apps work well most of the time, but even now some glitches can cause even your premium smartphone to have issues transmitting data.

Here a few quick fixes you can take to solve the issue:

  • Reboot your Pixel phone. Suppose it’s the first time that your phone failed to send a text message. In that case, the issue could be related to the RAM. This is because fragments of data from various apps are always running out and about the hardware. The quickest fix for this problem would be to restart your phone, and the way this works is by essentially allowing your RAM to have a clean slate. Here’s how: Click on the Power button and hold onto it for10 seconds. The device should automatically reboot.
  • Check if anyone in your contacts has been blocked. Most messaging apps provide the ability to block contacts whom you wish to avoid. Messages from contacts that have been blocked on your phone will be deflected elsewhere. In that case, you’ll never even know that they’ve sent you a message. Before you commit to any drastic measures, you need to rule out this possibility. To check: Open up your Messaging app > Click on More (three horizontal dots) > Blocked Contacts. If you can’t see the locked Contacts list, that means you should be able to receive messages from all of your contacts.

 

7. Face Unlock Feature Not Working

Google Pixel Face Unlock
Photo by Giftpundits

 

The three most recent phones from the Pixel line don’t come with the traditional PIN or password protection features to unlock the device. Instead, these devices use face-recognition technology to open your phone. Surely not being able to open your phone and finding an error message along the lines of “Can’t verify face. Try again,” is disheartening.

Here a few quick fixes you can take to solve the issue:

  • Reboot your phone. Again, we need to start with the basics for troubleshooting. This will help to clear up any conflicting data on your RAM, giving your phone a fresh start. Click on the Power button and press on it for10 seconds. The device should automatically reboot.
  • Reset Face Unlock Features. Resetting Face Unlock features is not unlike rebooting your phone. It gives the software a fresh start and removes all sorts of data that may have caused it to malfunction.
    1. Go to Settings > Security.
    2. Select Screen Lock and click on None from the list of options.
    3. Go back to the Screen Lock page and set the page to anything other than None.
    4. Setup Face Unlock again and it should start working normally.
  • Reset phone to factory settings. Here’s how:
    1. Open your phone’s Settings app.
    2. Click on System > Advanced > Reset options.
    3. Tap Erase all data or reset phone. Give your PIN when the software asks for it.
    4. Tap on Erase everything.

 

8. Pixel Restarting, Freezing, or Crashing Constantly

Google Pixel Crash
Photo by wnantes

 

Some Pixel owners have experienced random crashes with their phone. Otherwise, it simply restarts when they press on the Home button or any app. If you’re worried that your new phone may be dying, here a few quick fixes you can take to solve the issue:

  • Check for software updates. Software updates usually come with system repairs that fix existing issues on apps. Make sure that your phone’s applications are updated to the date. Here’s how:
    1. Software updates: Go to Settings > System > Advanced > System Update > Check for Update.
    2. Updates for other apps: Open the Google Play Store app > Menu > Apps and games. Apps that have updates waiting for them will have an option called Update. You can update each app individually or simply select Update All to update all apps on your list.
    3. Reboot your phone in safe mode. Rebooting your app to safe mode disables other apps that could be causing interference.
    4. To reboot, click on the Power button and hold down on it until the Google logo appears on the screen. Release your hold on the Power button and press the Volume down button while the Google logo is still on the screen.
    5. Continue to press down on Volume down until the “Safe mode” notification appears. If your phone works normally without crashing, this is an indication that a malfunctioning app caused the crash.
    6. Restart your phone to exit the safe mode. After that, look through your list of apps and uninstall potentially problematic apps.
  • Reset phone to factory settings. Here’s how:
    1. Open your phone’s Settings app.
    2. Click on System > Advanced > Reset options.
    3. Tap Erase all data or reset the phone. Give your PIN when the software asks for it.
    4. Tap on Erase everything.

 

9. Wired Headphones Not Working

Google Pixel with Earphones
Photo by Kaboompics

 

Modern smartphones like Google Pixel offer not only high-definition graphics, they also offer bass-boost, surround-sound quality music. Unfortunately, these portable devices aren’t exempted from connectivity issues.

Here a few quick fixes you can take to solve the issue:

  1. Make sure your headphones are still working. The first impression you get when your headphones fail to register music is that they’re broken. You can check this out quickly by plugging in your headphones to another device to check the audio.
  2. Disable Bluetooth pairing. Wireless headphones, speakers, and other devices easily pair with your smartphone via Bluetooth. The only problem is, having your device connected to another via Bluetooth disables the headphone jack. You will then to disable Bluetooth to enable headphone connectivity. Here’s how:
    1. Open Settings.
    2. Click on Connected Devices > Connection Preferences > Bluetooth.
    3. Turn the Bluetooth toggle off.
  3. Enable developer mode. Google identified an issue related to the USB-C port that could be causing the issue. They noted that the port could be identifying your headphone jack as a charger, which explains why it isn’t working. Reconfiguring your phone manually should do the trick. Here’s how:
    1. Go to Settings. Click on System. Select About Phone.
    2. Tap on the Build Number panel seven times.
    3. Once that’s done, you will be brought back to the Settings page. Click on System > Developer Options > Networking.
    4. Click on the option Select USB Configuration > Audio Source. The USB-C port should start working normally after this.
  4. Clean USB-C port. As you can imagine, even small things like dust and dirt can accumulate inside your phone’s charging port. Dust and dirt can interfere with your device’s electric components, and eventually, your headphones won’t work. Check your headphone jack using a flashlight, then clean it with a dry cotton swab. You can also opt to air it out using an air can.
  5. Get a DAC (digital to analog converter) type adapter. Sometimes the cause is compatibility issues with third-party USB-C adapters. If this were the case, get a digital to analog converter (DAC) adapter. If you’re not sure where to look for one, the official Google adapter actually fits the criteria.

 

10. Google Pixel Overly Heated or Warm to Touch

Google Logo on Pixel phone
Photo by daniel romero

 

Overheating can be a potentially critical issue, as it can cause your device to shut down unexpectedly and repeatedly without your consent. Overheating is usually an indication that your device is being overworked, either by an app, a process, or a setting.

Here a few quick fixes you can take to solve the issue:

  1. Lower the brightness settings of your phone. Go to Settings > Display > Brightness. Adjust the toggle to your desired level of brightness.
  2. Uninstall power-draining applications. Most people would agree that power-hungry apps can drain your battery and cause your device to overheat. First, you’ll need to know which apps are causing the problem and weed them out. Here’s how:
    1. Go to Settings > Battery.
    2. Click on More (three vertical dots) at the top right of the screen.
    3. Select Battery usage and check which apps are consuming the most power.
    4. Install those apps individually through the apps list.
  3. Clear the cache on apps you still need. If you don’t want to remove the apps that drain your battery, the next best thing would be to clear the cache and data for that particular app. Here’s how:
    1. Go to Settings > Apps and notifications.
    2. Click on See all (number) Apps.
    3. Select any app that you want to clear (e.g., YouTube)
    4. Click on Storage & Cache > Clear cache.
  4. Close other applications that you’re not using. For other apps that you use daily, make sure to close them properly after each use. Apps that are left running in the background still consume power and bandwidth, so the best option is to shut them down when not in use.
  5. Cancel heavy downloads over Wi-Fi or your cellular connection. Bandwidth heavy activities can drain your device’s power faster than usual. Try switching your downloads onto a larger (computer) device.

 

Final Thoughts on Google Pixel Fixes

Google Pixel Black
Photo by Patryck Kamenzak

 

Google Pixel is a robust line of smartphones with some of the cleanest and most clever software around. Undoubtedly, the Google Pixel line brings a lot to the table. Still, even this premium line of Android smartphones can experience issues. These issues may be caused by the Pixel line’s unique makeup or caused by Android phones’ problems in general. The issues vary in intensity and causes, but each one has a corresponding solution. The key factor in solving a problem is to know the root cause and to do a process of elimination to find the root cause, followed by the appropriate solution. The quick fixes we’ve provided are meant to help your device start working normally again and possibly even extend your device’s lifespan.

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