Pixel 4 users suffer from flickering screens after latest Android 11 beta update

Pixel 4 users suffer from flickering screens after latest Android 11 beta update
Earlier this week Google dropped Android 11 beta 2. Even though this is part of the Android public beta program, we warn you all the time not to install beta software on your daily driver because of the potential for bugs. It's one thing to install an spare Pixel 2 and newer collecting dust in a drawer, it's quite another to have a Pixel 2 or newer that you rely on to stay in touch with your family, your boss or clients.

Here's a great example of what could happen. Several Pixel 4 owners complained on Reddit about a bug that causes the screen on their phone to flicker. First, we need to point out that the update removed a feature that allowed Pixel 4 users to force the 90Hz refresh rate to stay enabled even on apps where the rate would normally drop back to 60Hz automatically. And it is the changing of the refresh rate that users are blaming for the flickering of the screen. One user said, "In WhatsApp it just goes bonkers and switches between 60Hz and 90Hz all the time, resulting in pretty bad flickering. One Redditor with the handle of TinyBirdperson wrote, "Yea, they seem to put the screen to 60hz if it does not change for a few frames, and every time it changes it goes up to 90hz. While I am typing this, the screen flickers every time the cursor appears or disappears. Hopefully, they'll add an option to disable this asap."

There is a common sense workaround, but Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL users are not going to be happy with it. By turning off the "Smooth display" option, the flicker should disappear from the screen. But that means eliminating the 90Hz refresh rate and returning to the old school 60Hz rate at all times. At the former rate, screens refresh 90 times each second while at the latter speed, they update 60 times each second. Faster refresh rates deliver buttery smooth scrolling and enhanced mobile game animation.

The Pixel 4 series features the "Smooth display" feature that allows the faster refresh rate to be enabled except when a high refresh rate is not critical to the user experience. This is done to save battery life which, as many Pixel 4 users know, is at a premium. Perhaps Google will resolve this issue soon with an upcoming software update.

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