For some reason, there are certain things that smartphone reviewers either ignore or decide are not worth mentioning. For example, I have read and watched tons of iPhone reviews and observed that this happens with iPhone reviews a lot. I am also seeing it happen with the Pixel range of phones: there are certain niggles that do not get mentioned. So, here I am doing the community service that you all love me for, and I am here to say that before you buy a Google Pixel phone, you need to know about this issue that is capable of frustrating you, and even costing you dearly.
Modern smartphones are powerful. It is a miracle that so much computing power can be fitted into these small slabs. One of the consequences of that is heat. Smartphones generate heat. The more powerful they are, the greater the chances that they will warm up significantly. We already have tips for you, should your phone heat up, so check that out if you haven’t before now.
The engineers at Google are smart and came up with a built-in feature to protect your Pixel phone from damage when it heats up. It isn’t a case of if it heats up, but when. Because from all my experiences with Pixel phones, they warm up significantly under fairly prolonged use. All the ones I have handled. So, the engineers at Google built something into these phones so they can protect themselves – even against your will. And that is where the problem is.
Below is an excerpt from Google’s documentation about Pixel phones; it spells out how your smartphone protects itself when it gets too warm or hot.
How your Google Pixel phone protects itself
Your Pixel phone may start to limit some functions when it senses it gets too hot. These include:
- Slow down.
- Slow charging.
- Turn off your camera’s flash.
- Disable your camera.
- Partially or fully turn off your mobile data or Wi-Fi, including 5G.
If your phone’s temperature keeps rising, it could show a warning and turn off. The phone turns off to keep you and your phone safe. If your phone turns off, let it cool down and restart it.
If your phone continues to turn off, contact Pixel support. Source: Google Support pages
The real-life implications of the above automatic protective feature is that sometimes, while using your Pixel phone as a hotspot, it overheats, and while you are in the middle of an important document or strategy session, the crazy phone disconnects you from your mobile network. You go offline and have to wait till the powers that be on the inside of the phone decide that it is safe to turn it back on. Aaaaargh!
I have spoken with at least two Pixel owners before writing this article, and both of them confirm that this happens with their phones. The most common is the disabling of charging if the phone gets hot while plugged in. I am all for this. a hot phone in the middle of a charging session is a potential explosion or fire incidence.
But I cannot wrap my head around a situation where I am using my smartphone as a wireless hotspot, and it disconnects me. What?! My Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Pro gets pretty warm during use and has never once cut me off or shut down. Imagine carrying out a mission critical download and your phone shuts you down.
I do not know about you, but I do think that you should know if you are looking to buy a Google Pixel phone. It might not be a dealbreaker for you, but it is something that you should know, so you can find workarounds to prevent yourself from being thrown under the bus by your smartphone. An example of a workaround is to get a MiFi device for your hotspot needs. I strongly recommend not to use your Pixel phone as a hotspot, unless in you are in freezing weather.
If you live in the deserts or cities of the Middle East, North Africa, or anywhere else in the tropics, for example, don’t buy a Google Pixel smartphone if you need to use your phone as a hotspot. That is a bad idea. It will heat up, and it will decide whether to disconnect you, or worse, totally shut down.
An override toggle, buried somewhere in the phone settings, would be nice, for those extreme emergencies in which you absolutely need to get something done within a few moments or minutes and need for your smart smartphone to not go Terminator on you.
Hold it! Is it possible that this is one of the reasons why Pixel phones are not on sale outside certain countries? The Pixel 5a 5G is officially available in the USA and Japan only. The Pixel 6 series is limited to the U.S., UK, Canada, Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Germany, France, and Ireland, the same as the Pixel 5 was. Nah; it cannot be. The northern part of Australia is hot enough; innit? But really….
If you are looking to buy a Google Pixel phone, now you know one more thing that you should about it. If you are an existing user, you already knew this. Sorry; but there is no solution besides keeping your phone in a cool environment. If you live in the tropics and own a Pixel smartphone, may the gods be with you.
Google support pages (link)
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.