Google Pixel devices have been well-regarded for their photographic capabilities. However, are the devices plagued with unreliability? Android Police is reporting that the Google Camera app has been hit with more frequent 1-star reviews in the past year, with many users complaining that their cameras suddenly stopped working.

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Ars Technica has written about the topic as well. Users are encountering issues ranging from black screens in camera apps to framerate drops when recording videos, error messages and more. The issue appears to be hardware-related, as both first- and third-party apps are affected, and Google has stated that it doesn't know of any software issues.

It's not necessarily a widespread issue, but it seems to be spreading over time, with more users experiencing whatever hardware failure is the culprit. There are nearly 900 replies on an official Pixel Phone Help page. The issue is most prevalent with Pixel 2 devices, but some Pixel 3, 3a, and 4 owners are also running into issues. The Pixel 2, 3, 4 and 5 models also use the same Sony IMX363/IMX362 image sensor, so perhaps there's an issue there, although it could certainly be some other aspect of the hardware. This is a widely used image sensor and other phones, such as various Vivo, Xiaomi and Nokia models, don't seem to have the same issues.

The Google Pixel 2 seems to be the model with the most camera issues, but other Pixel phones have been affected as well.

When it reached out to Google, Android Police was told that hardware failures are a potential explanation, 'either due to wear and tear over time or abuse such as physical damage or drops.' Google recommends affected customers contact Google's customer support for further assistance and to explore possible solutions.

This isn't the first time Android Police has written about Pixel camera issues. Last September, it published a piece outlining some of the same issues with Pixel 2 smartphones. In January of 2020, there was an earlier article discussing the issues, this time within the context of it perhaps being a software issue. At this time, Android Police published a video showing the issue, which can be viewed below.

It's evident that something is going on. Is the issue reflective of typical hardware failures that occur over time with many mass-produced consumer electronics, or is there something more going on?