Google is having a rough couple of months as the Pixel 4 series was extensively leaked ahead of the launch and its steep price didn’t help Google’s case. Now, it looks like the Pixel 4 is on shaky grounds again due to a compatibility issue with third-party USB cables.
First reported by Android Authority, it seems like the Pixel 4 is having issues with USB cables. They discovered that due to its reliance on USB Power Delivery, the Pixel 4 works just fine with USB Type-C to Type-C cables but fails to work with USB-A to Type-C cables.
So, USB-C to USB-C works just fine. However, I simply couldn’t get the Pixel 4 to charge with other USB-A chargers at first. Quick Charge ports, USB BC 1.2 power banks, and even standard USB ports on my PC and laptop wouldn’t work. It was only when swapping out to another cable that I was able to get the Pixel 4 to connect to these devices. However, every other phone I tested, including the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a, works just fine with this same cable.
Android Authority used the same cables on older Pixel devices and it worked fine so it looks like the issue is restricted to Pixel 4. They also noted that about 18 USB-A to Type-C cables from Huawei and Honor were unable to connect with Pixel 4 at all.
After testing 18 different cables, it’s not entirely clear what upsets the Pixel 4. Older Huawei 5A cables were the only smartphone cables that refused to work. The original cable that kickstarted this investigation is also a 5A cable designed to work with fast charging devices. Both sport a purple identifying color inside. However, these work fine with every other phone I tested. Interestingly, high current cables from OnePlus and Oppo were deemed acceptable by the Pixel 4.
There’s no way of knowing why the Pixel 4 is having issues connecting to the USB-A to Type-C cables. It could be possible that Google is blocking cables that don’t adhere to correct 56k? pull-up resistor specification. Unfortunately, Google still hasn’t given an official statement so we would have to assume that it’s due to the cables not meeting the specifications laid out by Google.