We're seeing many reports of Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones with swollen batteries — enough to cause the backs of the phones to lift off. There are quite a few reports in Google's support forum and reddit. The issue also affected big boss Artem's 3 XL (#artemsluck, anyone)?

The Google support thread in question has been up since May of this year and has over 60 replies. The thread is full of images of swollen Pixel 3s with varying degrees of damage. Interestingly enough, the issue even affected the Platinum Product Expert who's been responding to everyone. There are also a few reddit threads describing the issue (and one similar thread on a Pixel 4 XL).

It seems like many people never even noticed that their battery had begun to balloon since they had a case on their phone, which is understandable. Nobody mentioned their phones having gone through any major impacts. Our own Artem (and a few others) only noticed when his phone stopped wireless charging. Obviously, this is a pretty major safety hazard, with the potential for the battery to catch fire or explode. It also compromises the phone's IP68 rating against water and dust immersion. Should a Pixel 3 owner be unaware of the problem because of their case and take the phone into heavy rain or drop the phone into water, their phone would probably turn into a paperweight pretty quickly.

Many are speculating that the use of a Pixel Stand or some other wireless charger is accelerating this issue, as it might be causing the battery to get a little too warm. A good amount of people reporting the issue did, in fact, note that they only noticed the problem when their phones' wireless charging functionality stopped working. I have two Pixel 3 XLs in my household, neither of which has been wirelessly charged, and neither is exhibiting the issue. Of course, we don't know how many Pixel 3s are affected in the first place.

Luckily, Google does seem to be offering complimentary device replacements, even to those out of warranty, for those who escalate the issue through chat and emails. Google is also telling customers this is a one-time thing, so it remains to be seen what will happen if the replacement phone has the same issue in a year or two.

We've reached out to Google and will report back when we hear something.

  • Thanks:
  • Jong Choi