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ฉันโดนคำสาปของกล้อง Pixel

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I loved my Pixel camera — until it went berserk on me at the most inopportune time.

I was struck by the Pixel camera curse, like so many others who’ve shared their tales of woe on message boards and within app reviews. We all bought Pixels because of the hyped camera tech, and then hated Google because of its camera fails — and the tech giant’s reluctance to publicly admit to a widespread issue.

The curse unfurls like this: Your camera works fine one moment, but the next time you try to take a picture, the camera app crashes. You try again and get a pop-up that says “Something went wrong / Close and open the Camera app and try again.” Except closing and opening the app doesn’t do anything. Neither does force quitting. Neither does restarting your phone. Neither does factory resetting your phone. You can sometimes get the front camera to work to take a selfie, but the error message taunts you on screen as you snap your sad face. (You can see me pout in the corner of my phone below; it was the last selfie I took on my Pixel.) Some adventurous tinkerers have taped a magnet next to the rear camera, which seems to fix the issue sometimes, but they then have to live with an ugly magnet taped to the back of their phone. Not ideal.

This camera curse has afflicted Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3XL, Pixel 4, and Pixel 4a owners, according to online comments. Initial reports of camera crashes appear to have surfaced in 2019 and the complaints continue to this day, with frustrated users taking to the camera app’s review section to vent. The latest upset customer posted a one-star review on June 23: “I can’t use my rear facing camera. Please fix!! My phone is 6 months old and I’m definitely feeling frustrated with my choice because a big reason I got my Google pixel 4a was for the camera.” The camera app for the device that’s been hailed as one of the best camera phonesone of the best camera phones of the year currently has 3 stars out of 5.

Whether the problem is due to a software or hardware issue — or a software issue that caused a hardware issue by overheating the phone like some armchair experts conjecture — has been debated online since people started carping about the curse. Google claims there are no known app or operating system software issues causing Pixel cameras to go on the fritz. Instead, Google tells Mashable the problem could be due to wear and tear or drops over time.

But that reasoning isn’t up to snuff for customers, some of whom had their cameras crash as soon as a month after they bought a Pixel. For others like me, the malediction descends upon you after a year or two. (And my phone doesn’t have a scratch on it.)

Those lucky to have encountered the curse less than a year into owning a Pixel have been well taken care of. The Pixel’s one-year warranty means those favored customers just ship their hexed phones back to Google and get a free (most likely refurbished) replacement. But if you’re outside the warranty window, you’re out of luck in the free department. You can get a broken Pixel repaired by a Google partner. I was given a US$120 estimate for a fix, which is twice as much as the phone is worth if I tried to sell it on eBay. A Google customer service rep also suggested I could trade in my phone to buy a new one, but the trade-in would get me at most US$21. Google says anyone experiencing this issue should contact customer support for help, but in my experience, you won’t get far if you’re seeking a comped replacement out of warranty.

The camera on my Pixel 2, which I raved about taking exceptional photos of the Northern Lights in 2019, stopped working while I was covering the reveal of BMW’s new electric SUV recently. Although I initially bought my Pixel in 2017, Google has sent me two replacements over the years after bricking incidents. The first time my Pixel bricked was right before I got on a flight in 2018; I lost all access to my boarding pass information. The second was a year later in 2019 when I was on vacation in Hawaii (no photos of turtles and sandy beaches for me during that trip). The Pixel has cruelly nailed the dramatic timing of its torture. When my camera stopped working in early June, I’d had the phone for almost two years.

Sadath Ahmed, an engineer in Dubai, was struck by the curse seven months after his warranty on his Pixel 2 XL ended. He bought the new phone in 2019 and a year and a half later, when he was trying to take a picture of the sunset, the camera app crashed. He explains in a Reddit DM that he got the same black screen I experienced after the first crash. He tried the magnet hack, but after a few days the trick lost its magic. Any photos he took were blurry until the camera just stopped working once again. He used his camera-less phone for four months and then bought a used Pixel 2 for US$50 as a temporary stopgap. He’s eyeing an iPhone for his next purchase, but for now, the used phone gets him through the day.

“I think they should first acknowledge that there is a widespread issue and help customers get the camera fixed,” says Ahmed about what he considers an appropriate response from Google.

Muhammad Irtaza, an engineering student in Pakistan and another cursed Pixel owner, agrees.

“Google fails to acknowledge this issue which is, in simple terms, pathetic for a company as big as this.”

“There are dozens of articles and posts on Reddit, the Google support site, and countless other forums, yet Google fails to acknowledge this issue which is, in simple terms, pathetic for a company as big as this,” Irtaza writes in a Reddit message.

The camera crashed on his used Pixel 3 five months after he bought it, while he was snapping a pic of an indoor plant. He also tried the magnet trick, but its enchantment lasted just a few seconds before the camera crashed again. He says the camera problems vanished after he updated to the latest Android 12 Beta.latest Android 12 Beta. He reverted back to Android 11, Google’s current mobile operating system, a few weeks later and the camera was still functioning properly.

“But it makes the phone overheat like crazy. I can’t leave the camera on for more than 5 minutes,” he adds. So he bought a new Pixel 4XL, which he says has been “phenomenal.”

“This has somewhat restored my faith in the Pixel line, but I cannot and will not recommend the Pixel to any of my friends and family since I’ve read about the Pixel 4 battery issues as well. I don’t have those problems, thankfully, but I believe it’s just a matter of luck,” he adds.

I used to tell everyone who complained about their iPhone to get a Pixel. I trumpeted the Pixel line to one of my oldest friends who got a Pixel a few years ago. While she hasn’t experienced the camera issue, she has had other headaches, like screen glitches. Yet she still stuck with Google, moving on to the Pixel 4a and now the Pixel 5, mostly because of the camera’s acuity (and all the pre-installed G Suite apps.)

Before the camera crash, my phone’s battery life was dwindling. I’d have to charge it every five hours or so, which wasn’t a huge deal because of fast charging and being stuck at home not far from an outlet during the pandemic. To be fair, a limp battery seems to be par for the course after owning any phone for a year or two. I ditched my iPhone 6S and bought the Pixel 2 because the iPhone’s battery life was laughable two years in, and this was before Apple set a temporary US$29 fee for battery replacements on the 6S (it now costs US$49).

After a few days of steaming over my cursed Pixel camera, I was lured by Apple’s sorcery and bought a bright red iPhone 12 mini.

It takes superb photos.

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