Google took a step into the premium phone space in 2016 when it released the first Pixel phones. These HTC-manufactured devices were more expensive than the company’s old Nexus phones, but they didn’t cut corners. Well, they didn’t intentionally cut corners. Google has settled a class action lawsuit alleging serious issues with the first-gen Pixel microphone. Affected owners could get as much as $500 from the company, but the payout will probably be much lower.
Google launched the Pixel and Pixel XL in late 2016, and some buyers began reporting issues with the microphone shortly thereafter. On affected devices, users encountered problems with voice quality on phone calls and Assistant voice controls. Google eventually tracked the problem to a “hairline crack in the solder connection on the audio codec” in March 2017. The “codec” in this case refers to hardware rather than software, which is unusual but accurate usage.
The company took steps to fix the solder joint on future phones, but it continued selling the existing stock of Pixels. Google contends that less than 1 percent of Pixel and Pixel XL units suffered from the cracked solder, but the lawsuit claimed Google shouldn’t have been selling the phones at all until the issue could be fixed. Google has agreed to settle the lawsuit for $7.25 million. That money will go toward legal fees and payments to Pixel and Pixel XL owners.
The proposed settlement splits Pixel owners up into four levels. Those entitled to the largest payout are the ones who returned a Pixel for having a defective mic and then got a replacement phone that also had a defective mic. Those unlucky souls could get up to $500 in compensation. The next notch down consists of Pixel owners who had a single faulty microphone incident. Meanwhile, anyone who paid an insurance deductible to have their defective Pixel replaced should get reimbursement from the settlement fund. Even Pixel owners who never encountered the defective microphone issue can get $20 from the settlement.
The court has not approved the settlement, but the law firm representing Pixel owners expects it will be. Google and Huawei previously settled a more serious Nexus 6P class action for $9.75 million, so the Pixel settlement seems in-line with recent cases. You can fill out a form to get updates as the case winds down and the claim forms become available.