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Android 13 QPR3 Beta: Pixel display color profiles significantly tweaked [U: Fixed]

In an unusual change, Pixel owners who install the latest Android 13 QPR3 Beta may spot a noticeable shift in the colors shown on the display.

Update: As of the latest beta, this issue has been fixed.

Update 3/29: With the release of the second beta of Android 13 QPR3, Google has fixed this issue with display tuning that impacted some Pixel devices. Multiple members of our team confirmed that installing the update immediately returned the Pixel display to its usual appearance, regardless of one’s preference for “Adaptive” or “Natural” or usage of Night Light.

Notably, despite Google offering a running list of issues fixed by QPR3 Beta 2, there is no mention of the display tweaks.

Original 3/15: This afternoon, Google released the first beta version of Android 13 QPR3, which will form the basis of the June Pixel Feature Drop. Our team has begun digging into what has changed, and you can stay tuned to 9to5Google to keep up to date.

Immediately after installing the update, some members of our team noticed that the colors on their Pixel phone screens seemed to have shifted. Specifically, we’ve found that apps with a dark theme have a darker, more red-brown tone than they did previously.

Notably, we know this isn’t caused by any change to what’s actually on screen, such as a Material You theming tweak, because third-party apps like Twitter are also affected. The new shade is also visible when looking at previously captured screenshots. That being the case, the change in colors in Android 13 QPR3 is almost certainly related to the calibration of the display panels used in Pixel phones.

In the image below, we have a Pixel 7 Pro on the QPR3 Beta side by side with a Pixel 6, with both devices set to 100% brightness. Here, the Twitter app is given a darker, almost purple hue.

Pixel phones have long offered a few different options for the colors of the display, with profiles like “Neutral,” “Boosted,” and “Adaptive.” In particular, the Adaptive profile seems to be heavily affected by the changes in Android 13 QPR3. However, the altered colors can be seen in any profile by enabling the Pixel series’ “Night Light” feature, which seeks to reduce the intensity of blue light and thereby reduce eye strain.

The change in colors is especially noticeable when disabling Night Light. As normal, the feature gradually increases the blue light over a few seconds, but in the QPR3 Beta, a second shift in colors occurs roughly two seconds after Night Light has finished transitioning. You can see a demonstration of this in the video below:

With some experimentation, we’ve landed on a way to avoid the shift in colors, though it may result in a less visually interesting experience when using your phone. In short, you’ll need to disable the Night Light feature (Settings > Display > Night Light) and set your Pixel’s display profile to Neutral (Settings > Display > Colors).

From what we can tell, this seems to be a bug, but it’s possible this is a new feature that’s working as intended. Admittedly, apps with a dark theme are even easier on the eyes than they were previously, though the change may not be welcomed by all. By comparison, the recently released Android 14 Developer Preview – which by all measures should be newer than this Android 13 QPR3 Beta – shows no signs of this panel calibration change, suggesting this may indeed be a bug.

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article.

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Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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