A large number of Google Pixel smartphone owners have complained that their devices have slowed down considerably for no apparent reason. Last year’s Pixel 3 series and the new mid-range Pixel 3a series have 4GB RAM and a powerful processor to take care of any task you throw at them. So, why are users experiencing performance issues on Pixel devices? It may have something to do with Google’s Digital Wellbeing feature.
Do you want better performance or Digital Wellbeing?
Multiple threads on Reddit are flooded with comments from the affected Pixel owners. The issue appears to affect not only the Pixel 3 series and Pixel 3a series, but also the older models. It’s unclear whether Android devices by other vendors are also experiencing a slowdown.
In the r/GooglePixel sub-reddit, Ploewer says, “Saw it was a known bug on some YouTube comment about the Pixel 3a, turned it off on my Pixel 3 and it has made the world of difference. Can’t believe I was living with so much stuttering thinking it was normal. The difference is like night and day. If you have a Pixel 3, I highly recommend you give it a go even if you think you have no performance issues..”
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Another Redditor said he was wondering why his phone’s “battery life was suddenly garbage.” The user tried to find and uninstall the culprit apps, and found that it was Digital Wellbeing. Dozens of Pixel owners commented on Reddit that they saw a dramatic improvement in their phone’s performance – especially in terms of frame rates and stuttering – when they disabled the Digital Wellbeing feature.
The search engine giant introduced Digital Wellbeing with Android 9 Pie last year to allow users to monitor and control their screen time. Only a handful of Android phones have received the feature so far. Google’s Pixel series handsets run Android 9 Pie, which means they offer the Digital Wellbeing feature.
Google introduced it as a transparent tool to help users monitor how much time they spend on their phones and inside individual apps. It also lets people limit their smartphone and app usage, but it’s not supposed to slow down your phone.
Digital Wellbeing runs in the background to track how much time you spend using your device and various apps. It’s similar to the Screen Time feature on Apple’s iOS 12. The data helps you make smarter decisions regarding your smartphone usage. You can limit the amount of time you spend on each app daily or even turn the screen grayscale to make the apps a little less appealing.
Google hasn’t yet officially commented on the issue. But if Digital Wellbeing is making Pixel phones slower, users would seriously consider disabling it. Though not every one of Pixel owners noticed a marked improvement in performance after disabling it, most users did and they are glad they disabled it.
Google will further improve the feature later this year by bringing a new Focus Mode with the Android Q software. The feature might be useful in controlling smartphone usage, but customers are unlikely to put up it if it slows down their phones.
How to disable the feature
For the time being, you can try disabling Digital Wellbeing to see if it indeed improves performance on your device. Here’s how to do it:
- Launch the Settings app on your Pixel phone
- Select Digital Wellbeing
- Tap on the three-dot icon in the top-right corner and select Turn off usage access.
- Confirm on the next Usage access screen by toggling off the Permit usage access option
It should enhance the speed and frame rates. Let us know in the comments below whether disabling the feature improved performance on your Pixel phone.