We’ve already heard that some Pixel 4a devices started showing touch screen issues with Android 11, and it seems like a similar issue spread to Pixel 4a 5G after the security update in December. Many owners have visited the Google Support Forum, Google IssueTracker and XDA Developers Forum to complain about the issue, but it is still not resolved.
The touch screen error mostly affects the lower part of the phone screen and is most prominent when using three-button navigation instead of gestures. The problem is very pronounced in the video below, shared by an XDA Forum member. It shows that the lower part of the screen responds well to horizontal swipes and touches closer to the edge of the screen, but input directly on the buttons is often rejected. Conversely, many people say that tapping the edges does not work for them, and that the center is as responsive as it should be, so there may be more problems available here.
Our own Ryne Hager can confirm the same behavior on his Pixel 4a 5G that runs the security update in December, so it is possible that the only reason complaints are not very widespread is the fact that most people use their phones with standard motion navigation.
The XDA Forum member suspects that the issues are due to some form of palm rejection or accidental touch prevention, and it is quite possible that they have something to do with potential adjustments Google may have introduced with the December update to improve gesture navigation. But it should not affect those who use buttons over movements, and the problem is still not resolved after the January update.
Screen protectors can aggravate the problem, and that’s what happens on Pixel 4a, but reports suggest that removal does not resolve the issue. Some people also tried activating the touch sensitivity option, although it does not solve the touch issues either.
One of our tips even went so far as to replace the phone under warranty, but the replacement unit shows the same behavior. It should come as no surprise if the problem is actually software.
In a thread from the Google Support Forum, a community specialist acknowledged the problem on Christmas Eve and promised that a solution was in the works. He shared the following statement with some tips that should help in the meantime:
Hi Pixel Community,
We are aware of this issue, and a solution will be included in an upcoming software update. In the meantime, you can improve the response of your device with the following tips:
- When you tap icons on the edge of the screen, tap the center of the button or the side of the button / icon furthest from the edge of the screen.
- When you tap icons, including the navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen, use your fingertip or thumb instead. This will help improve touch detection.
With the issues persisting through the January update, we can only hope that Google will finally fix them when we receive the update in February. Switching to gesture navigation may be an option for some in the meantime, but there are many who just prefer the old way. Then there are people who trust the buttons for availability, which was one of the reasons why Google left them in the first place, so that the problem could also affect those who could not even switch at all.
We contacted Google for comment, but did not receive a response prior to publication.