The central pillars of the Pixel phone experience are the cameras and timely software updates. For many Pixel 2/XL users, one of those pillars has knocked the other down, as many have reported the phone's camera no longer works correctly, failing to show an image in the Camera app's viewfinder or capture any photos. The camera is just dead, basically.
As you can see in the video, the camera doesn't work at all. The camera UI shows briefly, but the viewfinder remains black. Some users report that using the app shortcut for the front-facing selfie camera works just fine, so whatever issue is happening seems isolated to the rear sensor. Resetting the camera app, rolling back to previous versions, or resetting the entire phone does nothing to rectify the issue. What's more, any app that uses the camera encounters the same problem, including Instagram, Whatsapp, and others.
Reports for this problem started with the Android 10 update last summer (one of the AP staff even ran into the issue at that time). More recently, an uptick in reports started with bigger "Pixel feature drop" December update. Either way, the precise cause for the issue isn't known, though in most cases it seems to crop up following a specific update.
Those who have contacted Google for support as a result of this problem are, as usual, getting a mixed bag of responses. Some have been able to secure RMA replacements, while others are stonewalled — the Pixel 2 and 2 XL are now over two years old and out of warranty for many. If this is an issue caused by an update, then that's a bit of a bummer, since it's not exactly something the user has control over themselves.
If you are one of the many Pixel 2 users suffering this issue, there probably isn't much you can do right now. Many with the problem are seeing it persist after clearing the Google Camera's app data, and even through factory resets (though it is an intermittent issue for some).
In the meantime, we've reached out to Google for more information following our initial publication, and we'll update if we hear anything back.
A previous version of this story claimed the Android 10 update was the trigger. Though reports appear to have started around the time of the release, the number of reports also increased starting in December, so we can't be sure it was the cause. Our coverage has been updated with these details, as well as other general clarification regarding the problem.