Pixel 5 users rage about a design flaw. Google sees nothing wrong

Some Pixel 5 users are seeing a gap between the screen and the body of their phone. Nothing to see here, says Google.

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It looks nice enough. From above.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

In the US, we're a little sensitive about the way we've designed things.

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We're not sure that everything we always believed in really works as well as it should.

Which, with a tortured twist, brings me to the Pixel 5.

Google's latest phone is, my colleague Jason Cipriani reports, a lot better than Google's last effort. Which was akin to a piece of ugly plastic flotsam tossed by a sea of despair. Indeed, a Verizon salesman told me its main market was angry people.

Oddly, some Pixel 5 customers are already angry. As postings on Google's community pages reveal, they're complaining that there's a gap between the screen and the body of the phone.

One poster offered a picture of their phone and there does appear to be an appreciable gap.

"Is this normal?," the customer asks. "Does this cause issues with waterproofing? How/why has this happened on a £600 device?"

It's clear that many had sympathy. This posting enjoyed 859 upvotes and no downvotes. All seemed to have been posted promptly and within the rules.

This issue has troubled users for a couple of weeks. Another posted: "Hello, I got the phone a week ago and only after 2-3 days of use my screen separated from the body of the phone in one of the corners. I can even see the glue!"

There are always one or two phones that emerge imperfectly into the world. This, though, seems like it has affected quite a few, but certainly not all, devices.

It took Google until Tuesday to respond. A Google community specialist named David Pop declared: "We've had a chance to investigate units from customers and, combined with our quality control data from the factory, we can confirm that the variation in the clearance between the body and the display is a normal part of the design of your Pixel 5."

How odd to think that some Pixel 5s will have a little gap and others won't need minding at all.

Surely, you might think, this could affect the phone's waterproofing ability or its welcoming posture to dust and particles.

Not so, says Google: "There is no effect on the water and dust resistance or functionality of your phone. We will work with customers on an individual basis to address any concerns they may have."

More than once I've wondered why Google makes phones at all. It's always seemed like a half-hearted effort, one that doesn't seem to have much impact on the outside world.

It does, then, seem entirely on-brand to release phones that may or may not grow a little gap.

But we've learned in America that being on-brand may not always be a good thing. Sometimes, it's worth surprising customers with a little perfection. Or merely a little modesty.

Google says it'll work individually with unhappy Pixel 5 buyers.

I'm forced, though, to look at the voting. Google's community-minded response has enjoyed 39 upvotes. This wasn't enough to win the people's approval.

One hundred and ninety-four people have so far given it the thumbs down.