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Google to pay some faulty-Pixel owners $500 each after class-action lawsuit

Owners of the original Google Pixel smartphone could be owed half a grand if their device experienced multiple failures due to an audio defect.

The original Google Pixel had some issues.
Some original Google Pixels had issues.
Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google has agreed to a settlement in a class-action lawsuit brought by owners of its original Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones.

"Google's total financial commitment under this agreement shall be $7,250,000," the settlement says.

The affected phones were manufactured prior to Jan. 4, 2017, with the owners suing Google in February 2018 after alleging they were intentionally sold faulty phones.

The original complaint said hundreds of customers complained to Google of "severe microphone issues."

"Instead of fixing the defective Pixel phones, providing refunds or replacing the devices with nondefective phones," the complaint said, "Google has replaced defective phones with other defective phones, resulting in many consumers repeatedly experiencing the microphone defect."

The settlement divides affected Pixel users into four categories, with the group experiencing multiple failures from the audio defect, including on a replacement Pixel, eligible to be paid $500 from Google, and those who saw only one failure slated to receive up to $350.

Those who didn't report experiencing the audio defect are still eligible to be paid $20 by Google, while those who received a third-party insurance payment for the audio defect will be judged on an individual basis.

The search giant unveiled the original Pixel in October 2016. The device was the company's first branded flagship phone. Prior to that, Google released phones through its Nexus program, through which it provided the software and worked with a handset maker like LG or Huawei to create the hardware. 

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the settlement but said in March 2017 that a "hairline crack in the solder connection on the audio codec affected around 1 percent of original Pixels.

"This will affect all three mics and may result in other issues with audio processing," Google employee Brian Rakowski wrote at the time. "Based on temperature changes or the way you hold the phone, the connection may be temporarily restored and the problems may go away.

"This is especially frustrating as a user because, just when you think you've got it fixed, the problem randomly comes back," Rakowski wrote.

The Google Pixel 2 XL then experienced burn-in issues later in 2017.