[Fix in works] Google Pixel 4a/4a 5G top speaker crackling issue (poor audio quality)

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New updates are being added at the bottom of this story……

Original story (published on December 1, 2020) follows:

The top speakers on the latest Google Pixel phone lineup seem to be giving some users a hard time.

Although not similarly designed — the Pixel 5 has an under-display speaker implementation while the 4a has regular ones — they both appear to be poorly optimized.

The latest contender in the ever-growing list of speaker issues that plague the series is the crackling sound on the top speakers of the Google Pixel 4a. And there has been a slew of complaints about it.

Anybody suffering from a crackling top speaker on the 4a 5G? Most noticeable playing music. Big thread on Google support but nobody’s found a fix. Can’t decide whether to return my unit or see if it’s a software issue which might get fixed. Keen to find out how widespread the issue is…

I’m using my Pixel 4a on AT&T’s network and I’ve noticed phone calls where AT&T’s HD Voice is active, there’s a noticeable static/crackling sound in the background. This isn’t an issue when I put the phone call on speaker nor is it an issue when taking calls without HD Voice. I didn’t have this issue with my Pixel 3a. Has anyone else experienced this issue?

The top speakers of the device function as both a secondary stereo speaker as well as an output for call audio. And as apparent from the above comments, they appear to be functioning poorly, at least for some users, resulting in a crackly or muffled audio output.

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Both the Google Pixel 4a and the recently released Pixel 4a 5G seemed to be affected.

The crackles/static seem to persist regardless of the function the speakers are used for. Users have stated that the issue occurs in calls and during regular audio playback as well.

Moreover, a few users that have owned Pixel devices in the past feel that the 4a sounds worse, even when compared to its predecessor – the Pixel 3a.


The Google Pixel 4a

A reboot temporarily fixes the issue for some reason though. So if you are one of the users troubled by a crackling top speaker on your Pixel 4a, the first thing you need to try is performing a reboot.

This will make the issue go, at least for a short while.

At this point, the issue seems to be hardware related, given the fact that there is plenty of evidence on the forums to back the theory.

I just have received my replacement pixel 4a 5g through RMA process and I have played music on it for the last 2 hours without a hitch. Appears the only real solution here is a replacement.

RMA / Return / Exchange your devices. Just get a new one sent out. Fortunately I bought through Carphone Warehouse so did not have to deal with Google’s patchy support. CW sent a new unit as soon as the DPD driver scanned my return. Phone came next day – absolutely perfect no crackling at all.

Going by the above comments and many more on the forums, the problem does seem to be linked to hardware. However, a user has reported that the crackling issues had persisted for them on every unit even after four replacements.

My husband bought a brand new 4a 5g two weeks ago and has now gone through 3 replacements that all had the exact same issue. Google has so far refused to refund and is sending him a fourth replacement.

It is quite disheartening that there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done about the matter, apart from giving feedback to Google. Regular fixes like factory resetting the phone don’t help with the issue at all, at least according to user reports.


The Google Pixel 5

For now, you can try the workarounds mentioned in our previous stories about similar issues on the latest Pixels. For our story about Pixel 5’s poor speaker quality, click here.

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And for our story about the low in-call volume on the Pixel 5, click here.

Hopefully, one of the workarounds in the above articles will strike a chord with you. Be sure to let us know in the comments below if it did.

Update 1 (December 21)

Frustrated users have continued to complain about the issue on forums, months after the initial reports about the Pixel 4a’s top speaker crackling issue.

Issue is more prominent after December update. Unbelievable. Brand new Pixel 4a 5G.

The good news though is that a fix is in the works, at least per the following user:

The update is coming in “Early 2021” according to the Google CS rep I was working with. I pressed for more details, because the phone really is pretty unusable for a lot of the things we buy these phones for in it’s current state if you are experiencing this issue.

Take it with a pinch of salt, however, as we were unable to verify the claim. We sure do hope it’s true. For the time being, we will continue to track this story and update it accordingly.

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