Smartphone battery life has been a struggle over the years, and we’re just now starting to make some progress. There are phones you can get that will run reliably for more than a day, even with heavy usage. However, that’s all for naught if you can’t count on the device to actually keep working until the battery is depleted. This is a problem some owners of Nexus 6P and Pixel handsets are putting up with. Their phones are shutting down long before the battery is drained.
The Nexus 6P was Google’s flagship phone last year, and is by far the more common device to suffer these symptoms. Owners report that phones will run fine, then they’ll abruptly shut down at between 10 and 60% remaining in the battery. Owners seem to be experiencing this earlier and more often in cold conditions.
That part would be bad enough, but the affected phones won’t start back up again until they’ve been plugged into power. So, if you’re out and about and your phone suffers from this defect, you’re not going to have a phone until you find a charger. It’s also worth noting the Nexus 6P uses a USB Type-C port, which is still fairly uncommon.
That phone is getting long in the tooth, but the Pixel is brand new. So, it’s a little more concerning that a few Pixel owners are reporting similar bugs, usually occurring around 30% remaining charge. For what it’s worth, I have three Pixels in the house and they don’t do this. As the batteries age, perhaps they too will begin behaving like the Nexus 6P.
Pixel
Since this issue is more common on the Nexus 6P, that should give us more information about what’s going on. There’s a Google Code thread with dozens of users contributing screenshots and experiences with the bug. It sounds like the random shutdowns started happening around the time Nougat rolled out to the 6P. However, some people who have had the battery replaced (which required disassembling the phone) report that the issues have disappeared. This could indicate that we’re looking at a combination of a software bug and a hardware fault.
It’s possible that some batteries are slightly out of spec, maybe they’re over or under voltage — the connection to cold supports this. The Nougat update may have changed something in the charging circuitry firmware that’s triggering a failsafe. Google is investigating the issue, but has marked it as a potential minor defect. Huawei, which made the Nexus 6P for Google is steering clear of the issue, directing everyone to Google. The Pixel shutdown issue isn’t widespread enough for Google to comment on yet, but it may also benefit if a firmware bug is found.