Google Pixel users can’t use the phone’s camera after receiving an error message

Google Pixel users can’t use the phone’s camera after receiving an error message
One of the main reasons to choose a Pixel smartphone is because of its camera, superior to almost all smartphones today. Turns out, some users are unable to fully enjoy their new device after receiving an error message when opening the camera app. The issue was made light of by 9to5Google, after noticing several threads on Reddit and Google’s own forums about it.

There are some variations between what users are experiencing, but the problem seems to be a common one and reports are coming from both Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL owners. The trigger for this bug is a third-party app trying to use the camera, for example Instagram or Snapchat, at which point a “can’t connect to camera” message is displayed. After that, opening the main camera app results in either a completely black viewfinder or an error message that states: “The camera driver encountered a fatal error”. 

Now, you’re probably thinking that it’s causing people headaches because they have to restart their phones occasionally, but sadly, the issue persists not only after a restart, but even after a factory reset. It seems that the problem is caused by miscommunication within the OS about which app can use the camera, ending with it being completely inaccessible, users even reporting that the flashlight functionality on their devices is gone.

Naturally, Google support has been contacted, bug reports have been sent and apparently the software team is working on a fix. Meanwhile, users affected by this issue are having various experiences when it comes to Google’s response. Some, likely the ones that experienced the error earlier, are receiving a replacement device, while others have been told to wait for the software update that will fix the issue.

There’s currently no information about when this update is going to be released, so people are left waiting in frustration. This isn’t the first problem with Google’s latest flagship smartphones, owners of the devices have been reporting random buzzing sounds and sporadic screen flickering, causing plenty of Pixels to find their way back to Google.

Hopefully, people won’t have to wait long before they can take awesome pictures again, but issues like that make you think twice before buying your next phone from Google.

Related phones

Pixel 3
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 2160 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 2915 mAh
Pixel 3 XL
  • Display 6.3" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3430 mAh



1. Foxgabanna unregistered

Damn the pixels want Apple Money but make Alcatel type phones. If Apple made this thing it would have been ran through the ringer.

2. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1584; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

The Pixel line is turning into an over priced beta platform. My updates may come slow, but at least I'm not reading about glitches and bugs on the latest Samsung daily.

4. Feanor

Posts: 1417; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Get a Sony Xperia XZ3; no Pixel bugs, but Pixel level of software support. Best of both worlds.

6. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

XZ3 is just too expensive for it's quality (average screen, battery and camera), and Android Q will be the last version update for it. (XZ and XZs come with Nougat out-of-box but didn't get Pie)

8. JuniorJenny

Posts: 34; Member since: Nov 13, 2018

this pixels are now failed terribly

10. Feanor

Posts: 1417; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Check YouTube comparison videos of XZ3 for screen and camera. There is nothing average about it. It's really up there with the best. It's the same story with Wear OS and other topics that the American rumour mill loves to bash. Xperia XZ3 has amazing screen and amazing camera despite what you read in reviews. Direct YouTube comparisons with iPhone XS, Huawei P20 Pro and-what-not prove it. Battery is equally impressive. I never saw less than 50% by the end of the day since I got it. What is overpriced here is obviously the Pixel with its abysmal quality.

3. yalokiy

Posts: 1103; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

So much for the timely alpha updates from google. I'll rather take slow updates from samsung/huawei and have a stable working device.

5. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Overpriced beta phone. Not worth the money imo.

7. dimas

Posts: 3419; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

And this is one of the reasons why manufacturers take time to update their UI's.

11. Fred3

Posts: 583; Member since: Jan 16, 2018

Pixel phone been spotted sense the beginning of the year. i think they had this whole year to test this phone and make sure all the bugs are fixed

12. tokuzumi

Posts: 1961; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

I get this error if I leave the camera open and then toggle back and forth between putting the phone to sleep, and unlocking the phone. It only happens occasionally, and is maybe .007% of my phone usage, so it's not really a concern. Would be nice if Google fixed it, though.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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