The Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro was supposed to be Google’s magnum opus. For a moment, it was. Judging by the accolades the phones received in the final months of 2022, it seemed like Google was ready to hang a “mission accomplished” banner over their headquarters in Mountain View, California, complete with a 21 Gun Salute.
But they may want to postpone the festivities. Ever since the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro was released, a growing number of users have experienced their camera’s glass shattering seemingly out of nowhere. What’s causing this to happen—and what can you do if it happens to you?
What’s Going On With the Pixel 7 Cameras?
The Pixel 7’s camera glass-shattering epidemic began, according to Digital Trends, in November 2022. Judging by tweets with the hashtag “#pixel7brokencamera” and Reddit threads where users are showing off images of their phone’s shattered camera, the problem continued into 2023.
If you’re a fan of Google’s Pixel phones, you probably know that the brand’s biggest design change for the latest series was the camera bar. Rather than having one sheet of Gorilla Glass covering each camera, the cameras reside in an aluminum block with tiny glass cutouts covering each lens.
As Ars Technica points out, this change theoretically leads to fewer light streaks when using the camera while making it more durable since there isn’t as much glass in the camera. Unfortunately, the new camera bar seems to have had the reverse effect.
What’s Causing Pixel 7 Cameras to Shatter?
Although Google has not given a definitive statement about what is causing camera glass to shatter on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, one culprit could be transitioning the phone from a cold to a warm environment (and vice-versa) too quickly.
When you consider that these issues seem to have ticked up as the 2023 winter season barrels through when people are rushing to get out of the cold and into their warm, toasty homes, the theory makes sense. But if that’s the reason why the camera glass is shattering, that presents all new problems. According to Google:
“Your phone [Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro] is designed to work best in ambient temperatures between 32° and 95° F (0° and 35° C), and should be stored between ambient temperatures of -4° and 113° F (-20° and 45° C). Do not use or charge the phone at ambient temperatures lower than 0°C (32°F) or higher than 35°C (95°F).”
Even though many countries experienced extreme winter conditions at the end of 2022 and into 2023, walking out of frigid temperatures and into a warm room shouldn’t have, according to Google, caused the camera’s glass to shatter. How many Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro users are regularly jumping back and forth between the equivalent of a freezer and the dog days of summer? Not many, and not at the rate that the phone’s camera glass has been shattering.
Another theory suggests that the culprit could be the components of the camera bar itself. One Redditor claims to have formerly conducted product testing and failure analysis in some fashion, and they describe why the elements of the camera bar could be the reason behind this growing problem:
This theory is backed up even further when you consider that Gorilla Glass—again, the type of glass used for the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro’s camera lenses—can shatter when the formulas used to create the glass and the aluminum of the camera bar that houses the lenses aren’t copasetic. Of course, we’re just speculating at this point.
If you’re worried that these issues could also affect older Pixel models with a camera bar, like the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, and Pixel 6a, don’t be. The camera glass only seems to be shattering on only the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a new type of problem. The Samsung Galaxy S20 faced a similar issue when it was released in February 2020, resulting in a class action lawsuit against Samsung filed the following year claiming that Samsung used defective camera glass.
What Can Pixel 7 Owners Do if Their Camera Shatters?
Call Google! Though, your mileage may vary. Some users have reported that Google isn’t covering the repair for the broken glass under their warranty, while others are saying that Google replaced their Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro outright. Pro tip: secure your phone before sending it in for repair to ensure that your data stays safe.
If Google isn’t giving you the answer you want, you could consider filing an insurance claim with your carrier. Alternatively, you could reach out to the retailer where you purchased the phone and ask about a replacement or a refund.
A Damper on an Otherwise Stellar Phone
The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro received rave reviews when it was released in October 2022—and for good reason. The design is sleek, it’s snappy as heck, and the cameras are competitive with some of the best Android flagship phones out there. But until the issues with the shattering camera glass are fixed, you may want to think twice about purchasing a Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro.