Some owners of Google's latest flagship phones, the Google Pixel 7 (opens in new tab) and Pixel 7 Pro (opens in new tab), two of the best camera phones (opens in new tab) available, are reporting that the glass covering the rear cameras has spontaneously shattered in recent weeks with no obvious cause.
While easy to dismiss as owners trying to claim a free repair after dropping their phone, all the owners taking to Twitter to show their broken lenses have the same pattern of damage on their glass – suggesting the exact same cause. The damage is isolated to a small hole over one of the cameras, very different from phone glass damaged from a drop, where the cracks spiderweb out across the entire sheet of glass.
Users have been taking to Google's support forums (opens in new tab), Reddit (opens in new tab), and Twitter (opens in new tab) to vent their frustrations with their very recent and pricey purchases, which are listed as the best Google Pixel phone (opens in new tab) and should be more robust.
Not even a month, no drops just regular use. Have a case on the phone. Been told Its my problem. Is this really the quality control backed by google? It's clearly a manufacturing defect, and I know I'm not the only one. Please fix this google! @madebygoogle #pixel7brokencamera pic.twitter.com/pH6k7HxSuxDecember 26, 2022
One potential cause that has been put forward online to explain the spontaneous shattering is rapidly changing the temperature of the glass going from warm temperatures indoors to extreme cold weather outside during the last few weeks of the intense freeze that has battered North America and other parts of Europe, where the majority of complaints have originated.
Corning, the developer of Gorilla Glass, the hugely popular scratch-resistant glass for phones and other mobile devices offers this explanation (via Scientific American (opens in new tab)) – "There's a layer of compressive stress, then a layer of central tension, where the glass wants to press out, then another layer of compressive stress. If you mess something up in your glass formula and these layers aren't in a perfect balance, one day the glass will just go "pop" and you'll get these outward mini explosions."
@madebygoogle So me and my wife each get the Pixel 7 Pro on release, over 2 weeks ago the camera on her phone shattered, tried sending for repair with carrier & found out this is a known issue, what do we do? (same phone in pictures below) #pixel7brokencamera pic.twitter.com/poozU3NceBDecember 31, 2022
Users have reported so far that Google has not been very forthcoming with a solution for frustrated owners, blaming the problem on the phone owners for the damage and refusing to cover repairs under warranty (opens in new tab).
This is not the first case of this happening to phone camera glass, with Samsung having a very similar issue with its Galaxy S7 and then again with its Galaxy S20 (opens in new tab). In the end, these cases resulted in a class action lawsuit against Samsung, so you can bet Google will be keen to avoid the same fate.
This is a very unfortunate setback for Google, as the Pixel 7 series has been very well received both critically and commercially, our reviewer was really impressed by its incredible photo capabilities on the Pixel 7 Pro (opens in new tab). And on a personal note, the Google Pixel 7 Pro is the phone I use day-to-day, so it makes me uneasy knowing that this could happen to my phone at any point, and it might cost me to fix it.
We really hope Google can step up and recognize the issue and include it in future warranty fixes so that future Pixel purchasers can have confidence in their new hardware and we keep recommending the Pixel range to budding phone photographers.