Google has long been committed to making phone charging more convenient. It was among the first to offer wireless charging, back before everyone got bored with it the first time around. More recently, it has focused on fast wired charging. The 2016 Pixel XL shipped with speed 18W fast charging, but something appears to have gone wrong in the recent Android Pie update. This phone’s maximum charging speed is now painfully slow.
Like all Google devices since the 2015 Nexus phones, the Pixel XL has support for USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) standard. USB-PD has increasingly shown up in phones from LG, Samsung, and others, even if there’s another fast charging standard in the included plug. This standard supports a plethora of charging modes going all the way up to 100 watts. Laptops like the Pixelbook and MacBook Pro use USB-PD over Type-C ports to recharge, which often operate around 40-60W.
The Pixel XL supported 15W and 18W fast charging at launch, which is around what most other Android phones can do. The current Pixels also support these charging speeds. However, users of the Pixel XL encountered a bug starting in the later Android P developer preview builds that completely disabled fast charging. Someone started a bug tracker thread for the issue, and Google seemed to take notice. However, the final build rolled out, and a large number of non-beta users have the same issue.
I’ve been able to confirm with my dev preview test unit that the final version still has the fast charging bug. With a Google charger, the phone doesn’t get either 15W (5V 3A) or 18W (9V 2A). It’s pulling about 9V and 0.55A, which is 5W. That’s the fallback low-power charging speed that predates even the original Qualcomm Quick Charge technology. It’s so incredibly slow by today’s standards.
In an alarming move, Google even marked that original bug thread as “Won’t Fix (Infeasible).” Google reserves that designation for problems that cannot be fixed on Google’s end because they’re caused by a third-party manufacturer or application. This bug is all Google, though. Users have started another thread, which Google has not officially recognized yet.
So far, this issue seems limited to the 2016 Pixel XL. The smaller 2016 Pixel has a slightly different fast charging setup that could only do 15W, so maybe that’s why it has been spared from the bug. If you’re a Pixel XL user and fast charging is vital, you might want to hold off on that Pie update if it’s not already too late.
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