The Google Pixel 5 Seems to Have a Serious Design Flaw
It is not unusual for a brand new phone to suddenly generate a flurry of problematic reports. It can be difficult, at least initially, to determine how widespread these issues are, and whether they represent a real problem for a product or are random issues cropping up at an inopportune moment. Multiple reports from XDA-Forums and Google’s support boards suggest issues with the new Pixel 5 might be more the former and less the latter. According to a very busy thread on the Google Support forums, a number of users have received devices with a gap between the top-left-hand side of the device and the screen.
Several factors point towards this being unintentional. First, the gap is almost invariably on the upper-left side, but not on the right side. Second, it’s large enough that some people report being able to work a fingernail in between the display and the frame of the case. Flexing upwards will cause the edge of the display to shift as well, implying that the phone display is not firmly secured to the chassis. End users have also reported returning their phones and receiving a new phone with exactly the same problem.
If this were a design decision Google had made, we’d expect every user to be affected to more or less the same degree, but different users report a range of experiences ranging from no issues to fairly large gaps. More than one end-user reports that the crevice has already begun to accumulate dust and detritus. It’s not clear if this issue threatens the device’s IP68 rating or not — in theory, the phone could have an internal gasket around the screen mount that’s still perfectly intact, even with this gap. But with a gap like that, however, anything that works its way into the space can itself exacerbate the problem. ExtremeTech recommends all users with this issue assume their phones are not waterproof rather than testing the theory to see if they are. Cell phone manufacturers will sometimes deny support if the water exposure markers inside the device indicate it’s been wet at some point in the past.
Google customer service has evidently told some users that the gap is not intentional or desired, though we don’t have a formal statement from Google itself yet. No one seems to be having any trouble getting replacement devices (good), but there’s no explanation for how this problem slipped through QA. The number of users reporting it in different countries suggests that this issue is either fairly widespread or that one of Google’s manufacturing partners shipped out a fair number of improperly assembled devices for some period of time.
There are no reports of this issue causing damage to anyone’s device, so you don’t need to worry about that just yet, but if you have a phone that’s been hit with this flaw we recommend getting in touch with either Google, your carrier, or the store you bought the device from. The risk to IP68 and the chance of internal contamination over the long term make ignoring the problem risky. Anything that could quickly compromise waterproofing and potentially allow dust ingress into the device is a mistake that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
Feature image by Sylabo, XDA-Developers forum.