One of the primary benefits to being a Chrome OS user is you get to buy devices from different manufacturers that fit your budget, preferences, and style while knowing you are going to continually get updates to the operating system directly from Google. For many users on the Google side of things, we’re used to manufacturers’ (other than Google) lackluster track records with long-term and short-term software updates for Android, leaving expensive, well-made hardware either waiting months for the latest update or hitting the point of obsolescence way too early after only a couple years.
In complete contrast to this, Chromebooks that debut and are purchased in 2020 get updates guaranteed until June of 2028. Since Chrome OS is basically the same experience on every Chrome OS device, this becomes a reasonable length of time for developers to keep devices in the loop with new hardware updates. What this doesn’t completely shield against, however, is the fact that the Chromebook device list is growing more rapidly than ever before. There’s no denying that there are far more Chromebooks to consider with each Chrome OS update than there were just a couple years ago, so there are bound to be issues that crop up from time to time with these larger updates.
Though mitigation is attempted to offset these problems, issues are bound to happen as a wide swath of different Chromebooks get updated to a new version of the OS that all have different display hardware, adapters, and motherboards. This time around, it seems the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook is the victim and as users on Reddit are reporting left and right, there’s something in the latest update to Chrome OS 83 that is causing some pretty glaring trouble with the beautiful 4K display that is the centerpiece of Samsung’s design.
From complaints about diminished colors to flat-out dead, powerless screens, it is clear that there is something very wrong with the Chrome OS 83 update on the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook. From the Reddit posts we’re seeing, the problems are varied and the roll-out of Chrome OS 83 was at least temporarily paused, but may be back up and running again. In the worst of these posts, the original author has edited his post 5 times and the latest update is one in which he cites the screen has completely stopped working on his device. External displays still seem to be fine, so it is unclear at this point exactly what is happening.
A Temporary Fix
If you have this issue, there is a possible fix that might work temporarily for you. There is a way to perform a Powerwash and revert to take your device back to the previous version where this issue wasn’t happening. Please note that you’ll likely need an external monitor if your screen has completely gone out so you can see your way around. Reports thus far have shown that external displays seem to work just fine with the Galaxy Chromebook and the current display issues we’re seeing.
In your Chromebook settings, search for “powerwash” and click the reset button. You’ll then be presented with the option to factory reset your Chromebook. Do that, go through the process, and then you’ll be back to your login screen just as you were when you first opened up the Chromebook. Then, on that welcome screen, press CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+R and you’ll see the powerwash screen again. Press CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+R once again, and you’ll see the blue button at the bottom go from “Powerwash” to “Powerwash and Revert.” This is what you need to do. You Chromebook will download and install Chrome OS 81 and we’ve verified this as working on the ASUS Flip C436 we have here in the office along with the Pixelbook Go.
Please note that this process seems to freeze your Chromebook in the older version for a time. We’re unsure how long that will last, however, so you may want to avoid restarting your Chromebook for as long as possible. You can always go to your settings and check in the About Chrome OS section to see if an update is ready to install on your device. If it is, the only way to avoid it is to avoid a restart. For now, all the devices we’ve used the above-mentioned method on are sitting on Chrome OS 81 and aren’t even attempting an update right now. We’re just not sure how long that will last. We’ve reached out to Samsung for clarification and a road map and will update when or if we hear back from them. Until that time, we sincerely hope this helps some of you out.
Thanks to @mikerosenwald for the heads-up!