It looks like the Pixel 4 has the same terrible oleophobic screen coating as other Pixels

Google Pixel 4 XL screen coating
Google Pixel 4 XL screen coating (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

This is one of those "is it this way for everyone, or just me?" problems that I didn't think was a thing until I asked around. Our own Harish Jonnalagadda noticed that his Pixel 4 XL's oleophobic coating was all but gone in the bottom third of the screen with just a couple weeks of light use. I felt vindicated because I'd been observing my own Pixel 4 XL's screen retaining a ton of fingerprint smudges compared to all of my other phones. No, I wasn't crazy; and I wasn't alone in dealing with wiping off my Pixel's screen more often than any other phone I've used ... since the Pixel 3.

Nope, it's not just you: the Pixel 4 seemingly has the same bad oleophobic coating.

As a quick reminder, an oleophobic coating is a layer added to most touchscreen devices that helps it repel oils (technically the coating is usually lipophobic and hydrophobic). It's the property that helps you use your phone all day, touching it with your naturally oily fingers, without the screen looking and feeling like you've been resting a piece of pizza on it. It's standard practice to not put this sort of coating on the glass back of phones to help you get some grip on the pane, but just about every phone nowadays as a coating on the screen.

Terrible oleophobic screen coatings seem to be a bit of a theme on Pixels. The Pixel 2 was widely known to have a quickly dissipating coating, and after that reports were even more widespread for the Pixel 3. My Pixel 3 and 3 XL both suffered from this issue, and it's been a recurring talking point from many AC staff members. Yes, the oleophobic coating wears off on other phones, too, but seemingly never at the rapid rate it does on Pixels.

I'm questioning how much of a 'coating' there really is to begin with.

The Pixel 4's coating is so thin and easy to remove that I'm questioning how much of a "coating" there really is to begin with. Seeing a fully worn-off area on Harish's screen after just a couple weeks of use is baffling. Mine is slightly better, but the bottom half of the screen is now, 5 weeks into using it, impossible to keep clean. And of course this is a vicious cycle — as soon as the coating starts to fade, you wipe the phone off more, which removes more coating.

One fix for this problem can be a screen protector, which often come with their own oleophobic coating — whether you buy a high-end glass protector (opens in new tab) or a cheaper plastic version (opens in new tab). Or, you can just deal with the extra smudges.

I'm also curious what your experience has been with your Pixel 4. Do you feel like your screen holds more fingerprints than other phones? There are enough Pixel 4s out in the wild with weeks of use on them that we can see just how big of a pattern this is.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

78 Comments
  • Ain't no software update gonna fix that issue...
    Google can't catch a break.....
    You think after four generations, they would have their ducks in a row....
  • Why? The idiot media (Android Central included) keeps promoting their phones as the best experience equal to iPhones (Samsung doesn't matter of course because "muh bloatware") with Hubble level optics. This asses also keep pushing the software>hardware narrative, even though software can be improved with patches and new updates while hardware can't. Samsung, Huawei and others could decide to push the media's beloved stock Android on any of their devices, Google can't apply a new oleophobic coating your screen (you'd have to RMA). Anyway best phone of the year. /s
  • Okay? The Pixel 4 has roundly been getting bashed from what I've seen/read/listened to. Yes, people like the phone, but I haven't seen anyone actually recommend this phone due to poor battery life and every review I've come across seem disappointed. Also, the bloat on Samsung phones really isn't that bad these days.
  • I'll recommend it. Very happy with 2XL & 4XL and would recommend either one
  • Same. Never had problems with my 2 XL. Don't have problems with my 4 XL -- especially not this screen coating problem.
  • The Verge recommends it over every other phone, even the "small" Pixel 4.
  • Don't worry, it's all BS. I have a pixel 3, in heavy use for a year, and looks as good as the day I got it. It came as a surprise to me that the whole range was allegedly affected, I've never seen anything like it.
  • So because YOU'VE never seen it, it's BS? What a monumental moron you are and this is coming from someone who owned a pixel 3XL and loved it.
  • I had the 3XL and used it for 4 months and it happened to my phone. Thankfully Samsung accepted it as trade-in to get my current Note 10+. So because it didn't happen to you doesn't mean the others to whom it happened are telling BS, grow up...
  • I think it's more a physical issue... As in the person using the device. Most days I can tap and swipe away at my various phones and tablets, and the oil left is minimal. Some rare days however, it seems I can smudge up a screen with skill of a snail... With very little use. Not sure why it is, but must be a chemistry thing.
  • Google will say that you were supposed to put a screen saver on it... stupid.🤣😛🤣
  • Google will say you werent suppose to buy the phone in the first place. Some 1st world thinking wrapped up in 3rd world afterthought.
  • Mine leaves no fingerprints whatsoever. Cleanest phone I've ever had.
  • Wow. I'll buy ten!
  • I honestly don't understand Google and it's pixel phones. They are one of the richest and most influential companies in the WORLD and should in theory be able to make the best smartphone on the planet with the best looking hardware and slickest software yet year after year they continue to make phones that would be absolutely rubbished by the tech media if they were made by anyone else at half the price? Surely they can't be that stupid to think that a phone that breaks easily, has terrible battery life compared to its rivals, missing camera lenses that are standard on other phones, outdated screen design with large bezel, poor screen coating, low ram and storage and no expandable storage so even the features it has have to be capped because it will either run out of space or battery will die early is acceptable these days when even budget phones can get most of these things right? I know that some of these things are subjective but come on, if any company has the resources to make a killer looking phone with incredible battery life alongside the best cameras and super fast software etc it has to be Google? Even if you a pixel diehard surely it's hard to look past these things when you put them all together when other 'lesser' companies can get this stuff right?
    What do other folks think? I realise some people love pixels and that's fine I'm not saying they bad phones but should you have to put up with what seems like a whole bunch of fundamental shortcomings from such a massive company?
  • Completely agree with you. It's very hard to justify buying this phone right now. All things considered, it should be named as Pixel 4a and priced respectively. By making such full of compromises device device Google wants to say one thing to us: "You will suck it up anyway, buggers!"
  • It's not even cutting edge features either it's the most basic stuff like ram, storage, screen and battery. It's ok saying that 8 and 12 gigs is overkill but that has to be better than not putting enough in that causes problems. You can't add these things later by software updates.
  • I believe they contracted HTC to make their current Pixel line up. HTC hasn't really have a good track record for their phones that's why you haven't heard from them for quite a while. If they really want to build a better reputation with their Pixel line ups they should start by getting rid of HTC from making their phones and use someone else instead.
  • I agree with that to a point. However, it's Google making the design decisions (compromises) around RAM, battery, storage, screen, etc. Even if Samsung were to make the phone, the Google design decisions are what hobble the Pixel phones the most.
  • Careful now, you’d best not be riling up #Altema and his beloved U12+😢
  • The Google Pixel 3 and 4 are manufactured by Foxconn. But anyways: Dude! Where ya been? Missed ya! Although I do like clearing up misinformation, my most recent purchase was the iPhone 11, and a few months before that it was the iPhone XS. Still got my Note too, but the S pen is busted, lol. But yeah, the U12+ is still my fave at the moment. By the way, did you know that the Pixel 4 is slower than the HTC U12+?
    Virtual wedgie!
  • Incredible. Every word of what you just said is wrong. HTC was only contracted for the first phone. And they were contracted only to manufacture the product. Google designed the whole thing. And google bought HTC’s design team and brought them in house. So everything you have said is wrong.
  • I partly agree what u have said. First, Google is in fact one of the richest company in the world, but Apple and Samsung is richer than Alphabet -- the parent company of Google, and Google's major business is not even selling phones, not like the other two does. Therefore they won't put that much effort on making phones, and they won't investigate that much money on developing the latest feature for their own phone. Second, you've said they could have make the best phone in the market with their resources. Yes they could build the best phone on the market, but their Pixel devices was not meant to take out Samsung Galaxy, and iPhones in the first place, they juat wanted to provide more choices for the customer, cuz as I said Google's major business is not making phones. Their Pixel line up was to provide the best camera performance and pure Android experience. I've use Pixel devices (Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3 XL, and currently on Pixel 4 XL) after I've used it I would say, it's indeed no as competitive as the other brands does, but I won't be the worse. The Pixel 2 XL in the time was called outdated to the iPhone X and S8, but I won't be disappointed, I've used the Pixel 2 XL and the S8+, compare it side by side it's indeed bad in some way but I find myself love the Pixel way more than the Galaxy. The Pixel design was definitely not great but I did everything I wanted it to, it take great pic, greater than the iPhone at that time and the UI was much smoother in long term usage than the Samsung Experience which is on the S8+, if u r still using the phone in this day, the Pixel will felt way smoother than OneUI running on a S8/Note8. The Pixel 3 XL is also said to be out dated to last year, the notch was ugly, there's only one camera, and it's not as good as the S9/Note9 but it also did everything I wanted it to, it take great pic, it's smooth, and it feels nice in hand to be honest. The Pixel 4 XL, yes, the same, it's very out, it have a big forehead, it have only two camera and one of them is a telephoto, but it's not bad at all. It have a 90Hz display which will not work for the all time, the color profile for the 90Hz and 60Hz mode is not sync which I really hate about, the battery life is poor compare to S10+/Note10+/iPhone 11 Pro Max, but it still doing well, it takes nice pic, especially in dark(I live in HK and it's a high light pollution city, I still able to capture few stars with it in dark) it's feel really smooth compare to Pixel 3 XL Note10+ and iPhone 11 Pro Max while scrolling. But the most important reason other ppl or me still sticking with the Pixel lineup is that, the Android experience is rly good. If u have used other phone, u may notice some performance decrease after a year of used, it may not be obvious for u, but I did notice it. The Note9 I have sticking with my Pixel last year, it'll lag a little bit after a restart or a long day of used, but the Pixel 3 XL won't have this issue. After a restart, I can successful type in the PIN and go into a app a soon as it started up, but the Note9 will struggle to type in the PIN just after a restart and it will have a a delay when the unlock screen to the home screen fully loaded. So my point is Pixel devices was not targeted on who need the best phone on the market, it's only a option for someone who is looking for the latest and pure Android experience
  • I’m surprised you can make so many excuses for a device you pay full price for. However, it’s your money and you’re free to spend it as you see fit.
  • I think much the same as you do , Googles pixel marketers seem to want to follow apples model of software matters more , to hell with giving consumers anything extra than what they need.
    The difference here is that Apple already has an awesome closed system that works with all of its devices , and though apples hardware may be a bit basic as far as features go , it is top notch and nicely refined .
    Everybody knows Google can do some cool stuff when they focus on something ,
    but the one metric for in this case building a successful smart phone , is it should be across the board better than previous or last year's models !
    Look at battery life , according to gsmarenas standard endurace battery test , the pixel 4 xl has worse battery life than the nexus 6P by one hour ,
    The Nexus 6P had a smaller battery !
    As a nexus 6P owner i was never impressed with it.
    surely in 2019 a company that can do some really cool stuff was we have seen many times could get such a simple thing right ?
    The storage , the annoying no headphone jack, no sd card , the somewhat low brightness display settings .
    I want to like Google handsets , but .........
  • Google with all the money they have should be producing the best phone our planet has ever seen. But their not. Both are overpriced for what's offered. 800.00 bucks for a 2800mamp battery & only 64gb's of storage, what, nah. That is totally unacceptable in late 2019. I really expected much more for the big bucks that their asking, yikes!
  • Well you know 80% of users don't care about about oleophobic coating so we decided to put just a bit on.
  • And that's fine but why should you have to do that on a supposed flagship phone? I've seen cheap phones slammed for this same issue not that long ago. Most manufacturers learn from their mistakes and get better not keep making the same fundamental ones (in general) Motorola has even added back the headphone jack for now at least
  • I have had my Pixel3xl since January. It's used every day. No loss of coating yet.
  • And reviewers rave and give this piece of junk a 9 rating.
  • What reviewer raved about this phone?
  • Phonearena (a very popular website) gave it a 9/10. 🤦🏾‍♂️
  • Phonearena gave it a 9? Really? Wow.
  • I had a 2XL....never an issue with this or any thing else. I have literally never touched the screen on my 4XL....put a tempered glass screen protector on it straight out of the box. Pixel isn't for everyone, but it is for me
  • I've had absolutely no issues with any of my Pixel Phones when it comes to the coating. I've had my 4XL since launch and no problems whatsoever. I dread to think what the author has on his fingers to ruin any screen in that way. Another anti Pixel non story.
  • My Lord this is a stupid article. >Uses glass cleaner on coated glass
    >Blames Google with said cleaner removes the coating
    This is your fault.
  • Who said anyone used glass cleaner?
  • Jesus what are you whipping your phone off with bleach? The pixels coating aren't the best but I never had a screen like that on any phone.!
  • You must have some dry ass fingers, my man. Put some lotion on next time you finger your phone.
  • Lol just ask Bill Burr bout lotion!
  • I've owned the Pixel 3 XL and now own the Pix 4 XL. I have to be honest and say that I've never had problems with the coating wearing thin on either device. I usually rock them naked. That said, I onced owned a Galaxy S3 that had the coating nearly all come off when I unwisely used just a dab of diluted dish soap to remove fingerprints. Since then only used a dry clean towel or plain water. No, I never use my jeans leg, carpet, alcohol wipes, glass cleaner, my dog, etc to remove fingerprints. I wonder what others are doing that removes their coating.
  • Nah, the writer is an idiot and removed it with chemicals.
  • You know what happens when you assume
  • At this point it's just petty ,and nitpicking, phone is great and I get through the day with out any issues I still would not go back to apple and definitely not Samsung that titan chip has some serious security behind it , also 99% of population puts on tempered glass on there phones ,at this stage it's just looking for reasons to bash.., I find it pathetic at this point ,I love my 4xl and I would never switch hardware over software ever, and I have a note 10 plus I bought I keep trying to give Samsung a chance I just can't, it's not the same experience as a pixel and no hardware can change that.
    So I. Selling my note 10 plus to my friend she loves Samsung .
  • First I've heard of this complaint about the Pixel phone line. I've had OG Pixel, P3aXL and P3XL without any issues with the coating.
  • ********. I used a 2XL for two years, and it's still perfect. My 4XL has no problems either.
  • Never seemed to have a problem with any of my Pixel phones. Besides rarely needing to clean the screen I use a lot, I've yet to notice any problems with the coating dissipating. What exactly are you doing to your screens?
  • Never had this problem with my 2 XL and don't have it with my 4 XL.
  • You do know that people already reporting pain chipping on this POS.
    Total failure by Google. This cheap shiт written all over it. At this point I am not sure even if I want P4 for free (which i can get with P3 tradein).
  • I coated mine with liquid/spray car wax. I don't have that issue on the screen. I use Call of Duty app and Im NOT gentle on the screen, I don't have screen protector, too so go figure.
  • This is all BS!!!!!
  • Really? My Pixel XL 1 and 2 were both fine, and My 3XL has been excellent. I've cleaned the screen maybe once or twice in the past year. Title should be changed to "Users of other Pixels with abnormally greasy hands still find hands abnormally greasy with Pixel 4"
  • Just here to mention that I've owned a pixel 2, 3, and now 4. No screen issues at all. What are these people doing to their phones?
  • I owned a Pixel 2XL and never had a problem with it, at least none of the so called "problems" you read about.
    I now own a 4XL, and have had it for several weeks now without a problem. (Knock on wood)
    As for those mentioning HTC, that's the only reason I tried the Pixel 2Xl, I had owned HTCs for many years and always loved those too, they always seemed so much better built than their competitors.
    Just my two cents, but you did so ask for it.
  • The most important things to me are battery life and security updates. I still think the Pixel 4 XL looks like the best option for an upgrade from my 128GB Pixel XL. I was considering the OP7T but then they got smacked by their SECOND recent breach and their update cadence isn't fast enough. It's like no matter what you choose there's some compromise of some sort. I think the compromises in the Pixel 4 XL are the least critical. Pixel 4 battery is just too small or I would consider that. Considering the 3a XL as well, just unsure how I'd feel about less storage. I've been streaming more and more and relying on storage less and less so maybe I could make that work. I have quite a bit of useless things taking up space. Loll.
  • The only phone I have experience this issue on was my Galaxy s6 but I never assumed it was a Samsung issue. ... my Pixel 2,3 and now 4 XL have yet to show any signs....so unless the masses are experiencing this I would just put this under wear and tear which is yep, normal. But I get it you need clicks and no other phone can get as much clicks as pixels giving issues can ✌🏿
  • Bingo, and agree on all points!
  • Hey Andrew, how do you wipe off your phone screen? Alcohol wipes, water soaked paper towel, your T-shirt or just a dry microfiber cloth? I'm not saying it's your fault, I'm just curious.
  • Maybe there was one bad batch that slipped through QA, but most that commented with hands on experience did not have this issue. This article should not have been written as an indictment of the entire Pixel product line.
  • This is absolute bs. My pixel 2 or 4xl never experienced this issue. Nobody with a pixel that I know has had this either either, wth?
  • Guys, guys... it's really easy. i learned this when buying the p2s. never, NEVER buy release day pixels. their first batch phones have **** QA. buying them after a month or after stock has been replenished is the way to go.
  • I'm quick to criticise everything Google gets wrong with their devices or isn't to my liking but saying the whole range was affected is BS. My 3xl's screen has taken plenty abuse and has a fair few scratches but the oleophobic coating is as good as the day I got it
  • How did we get here? The Pixel went from the Golden Child to the Rodney Dangerfield of phones. Talk about a fall from grace.
  • Doesn't almost everyone use a tempered glass anyway? It's crazy to see so many Android sites jump on the "Google Hate" train. For what it's worth I love my 4 XL and am using a tempered glass like most normal people do.
  • The Pixel 4 uses Gorilla Glass version 5, but the oleophobic coating can wear off regardless of what glass is used.
  • Are you kidding me? I have been reading almost every week that Pixels have been criticized. I am a Pixel 3 XL owner. My phone is awesome and I love it . IProbably anti- Google folks !
  • I'm neither anti Google or pixel hater or iPhone user or even someone who simply wants to criticise I think the reason pixels get close scrutiny probably more than other phones is because firstly it's made by Google but it's because of the price that's asked for them. They charge top prices for phones that lack in key areas to phones sometimes less than half the price. And if Google isn't trying to sell loads of phones like some people say then why make them at all?
  • So I'm seeing all these reviews saying this stuff but can someone tell me why he wont show the top of the phone or back but it isn't even a pixel the only button that is different colored is the power button not the volume rocker and if you look closer he is holding the volume rocker my family has been using nexus and pixels since the beginning and guess what no problems. So someone wanna explain? It's just another dummy trying to get attention.
  • My wife and I have both used the Pixel series since launch, I'll not say they're perfect phones, but I've certainly never seen this issue with any of them.
    I also sell phones, so if this was in any way a common issue I would have seen the problem by now. Very bizarre...
  • Didn't have this issue with my OG Pixel and don't currently have this issue with my Pixel 3a either
  • I've had ever Pixel phone, and I currently have the new one. I have never had that probably ever. I'm also not experiencing any of the issues that people are talking about. I love my new Pixel 4.
  • I don't use a screen protector on my Pixel 3 and although I do prefer to regularly rub my fingerprints off with a lens wipe, I haven't noticed anything like what is pictured in this article. Maybe if it is that fragile of a coating, the rest of us have merely wiped all of it off. I am a fan of HTC's legacy, the hardware is good. But the Google software is what I value more.
  • This is mostly people getting solvents of some sort on the phone display. To clean your phone display only use a soft lens cleaning or microfiber cloth. Maybe a little bit of water if you need to get off something dried on. NO ALCOHOL, NO WINDEX, NO CLEANERS.
  • I need to ask the author of this article a question. Straight up. Is this a Pixel 4?
    I'm looking at the volume buttons and it sure doesn't look like the P4 volume rocker. I realize it has a clear cover but from what see, it has individual up/down buttons unlike the current P4.
    Am I wrong here or is this fake news?
  • Further examination of the photo and adding to my comment above, the volume buttons appear to be set on a raised portion of the casing and do I see a portion of a silver
    banding beneath the middle finger? Both of these features don't exist on the P4XL.
  • If that's a couple of weeks use that's defective my friend or you have a special 'gift'. Nothing but praise for my 4XL and would recommend to anyone. Not sure why this round of Google phones are getting ripped. At least an 8/10 phone!
  • My pixel 2 lasted a little less than 2 years which seems typical for most phones I've used before the smudges start getting real bad. Google cuts so many corners on little things with the Pixel phones but still charges way too much. Even the software is basically always in beta. The Pixel phones would be fine if the price was at $550. These minor issues would be easier to live with. When you're spending $1k on a phone you expect perfection for the entire life of the phone. Currently the only way to get that is to buy an iPhone. People like a good camera but that only gets you so far. Google is using as a huge crutch on their phones.
  • This was my only complaint when I had this issue with my pixel 2XL and 3XL. I purchased the 3XL with extended warranty and contacted Google to request a fix/replacement. They told he I could file a claim for another unit and pay the $99 deductible. I purchased the 4XL and immediately slapped on an Invisible Shield ... problem solved (or at least avoided for now). Otherwise phone runs great.