Pixel-branded handsets are no stranger to the odd issue, hardware or software, but Google Pixel 4 devices now appear to be having serious USB-C problems. According to an increasing number of reports, most USB-C to USB-C type cables have been shown working just "fine" when they're tested. It's not until standard USB Type-A to USB-C cables are used that a problem presents itself.
The problem also isn't impacting older Google Pixel 3 and 3a devices, implying that this is solely a Pixel 4 and 4 XL matter.
Users report that regardless of which type of charging port is used, the problem persists. That includes Quick Charge compatible ports, USB BC 1.2 power banks, and standard ports.
So what, exactly, is causing this USB-C issue for Pixel 4?
In total, so far, 18 cables have been tested and it isn't immediately apparent where the underlying issue is. Older Huawei five amp cables don't work and neither do other cables with the same amperage. OnePlus and Oppo cables worked fine too.
What is clear is that it is the cables. Some cables that don't work with Google's Pixel 4 do work with other devices. Using a different cable with, for example, the same adapter also works. So it's the cable at fault here. Speculatively, Google might be blocking cables that don't feature the exactly specified resistor specifications. That would make sense since Google Pixel 4 utilizes 18W fast charging based on PD. Wireless charging is at a similar rate.
By all accounts, it is in Google's interest to ensure that the phone doesn't cause fires or explosions because of miscalculations or missed specs in a charging cable.
Why is this a problem and when will it be fixed?
Now, ordinarily, it might be easy to chalk up this type of battery issue as a quirk of the device. But there is cause for concern, particularly with the smaller Google Pixel 4. While the Google Pixel 4's XL variant features a respectable — if undersized — 3,700mAh power cell. The smaller Pixel 4 only packs in a 2,800mAh capacity unit.
Those batteries are powering a more efficient but still power-hungry Snapdragon 855 with a Pixel Neural Core coprocessor. They're also driving powerful cameras and other hardware and radios that need a significant amount of power to run.
The smaller Google Pixel 4 is, in fact, a phone to be avoided if battery life is a concern, by many opinions. So not being able to just plug into any USB-C cable is going to be an issue. That's particularly true since the overwhelming majority of cables end in the problematic USB-A end rather than USB-C on both ends.
Because the issue seems to be deliberate on Google's part, there's a good chance the company doesn't plan on fixing it either. No reports have surfaced yet with any statements from the search giant. And the company doesn't appear to be leaning toward providing a 'fix' either. So it may be a matter of not when the apparent issues are patched but if Google plans to patch it or views the USB-C Pixel 4 issues as problems, to begin with.