The Pixel 7 is the latest smartphone with spontaneously shattering cameras

The Pixel 7 is the latest smartphone with spontaneously shattering cameras

The Pixel 7’s biggest design change over last year was in the camera strip, which went from a single large sheet of glass covering each camera to a solid block of aluminum with smaller glass cutouts above each lens. the camera. The thinking at the time was that less glass would lead to fewer light streaks on the camera and perhaps even slightly better stability thanks to a smaller area of ​​glass. Ironically, this smaller glass seems to be more prone to breaking. Many reports have started appearing on Reddit, Google support forums and Twitter claiming that the camera glass just broke one day. In addition to the hundreds of responses on Reddit and support forums, tweeting #pixel7brokencamera will give you an endless stream of terrible photos.

We’ve seen this problem a few times before in the smartphone world. Samsung was hit with this problem in 2016 with the Galaxy S7 and again in 2021 with the Galaxy S20, both of which triggered class action lawsuits. In the Samsung and Google cases, the broken glass doesn’t look like it was broken by impact, which usually indicates a point of impact and an external spider web. In these cases, a large, round hole appears in the glass – it looks like the phone was shot with a bullet.

These specialized smartphone glass panels increase scratch resistance by creating stress on the glass. We don’t know the manufacturer of Google’s camera glass, but a Corning engineer explains the overall process in this Scientific American article, saying, “There’s a compressive stress layer, then a central tension layer, where the glass wants to press out. , then another layer of crushing stress.” If you mess something up in your glass formula and these layers aren’t in perfect balance, one day the glass will just “pop” and you’ll get these mini-explosions on the outside.


A Galaxy S20 from a few years ago. This is all so familiar.

This sounds like what people are describing, with some suspicious temperature changes from cold weather outside to hot weather inside is what is causing the glass to flash. To suggest that it is from a fall would be very hard to believe. The camera cover is a small circle of glass surrounded by aluminum – even if you tried to get the phone to sit on top of the camera cover, it would be extremely difficult.

Despite the difficulty of imagining that this is user abuse, some users say that Google is not dealing with the problem under warranty. Alex Hatzenbuhler, one of the victims of the broken Google Glass, posted a screenshot from Google device support claiming that the issue is not covered by warranty. Some users are being quoted around $200 for a repair.

Samsung’s class action camera glass lawsuits were mollified thanks to Samsung’s terms of service, which require “mandatory individual arbitration provision and class/jury waiver provision.” Google defaults users to a similar agreement that gives them almost no rights, and while you can opt out of binding arbitration, most people don’t, so a lawsuit is unlikely to go anywhere .

What arbitration cannot stop is online pressure and negative press from websites like this one. So hey, Google, cover your obviously defective hardware under warranty. The Pixel hardware division is very small and wants to grow, but you won’t get anywhere if you start poaching on your small customer base. A public statement saying this is covered under warranty would help people deal with customer support. You have our email.

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