For as long as we can remember Android has had a bug in random devices where the system is unable to connect to the camera giving a “fatal error”. We have even seen it recently in Huawei’s latest flagship but can remember seeing it way back in the Nexus days.
The error seems to appear for some when they are trying to access the camera through a third party app such as YouTube and from then on the camera is unusable. Others are seeing the error appear after an error “The camera driver encountered a fatal error” when using the Google Camera app. A reboot usually fixes the issues (as it always has) but for many the error re-occurs when trying to access the camera from another app, also causing the flashlight to be disabled.
Some users have also had the issue continue after a factory reset and have it occur when in Safe Mode.
Owen Williams at Charged had this error occur on his phone and looking into it:
I dug into this for quite a while, siphoning through logs and poking around in the camera API, and it appears to be related to the system not correctly releasing a lock on the camera device, causing other apps to assume that it’s in use, and crash. Usually, this is forced to release, however in this case it appears that a firmware flag or other change causes the system to be unable to release the lock at all.
Understood. We're aware of this issue and are looking into it. As a workaround, try temporarily putting your phone in airplane mode and then try to take a photo again. Keep us posted.
— Made by Google (@madebygoogle) July 8, 2018
Aside from the above Tweet, Google has not commented on the issue and is actually refusing some device replacements suggesting that a fix is on the way. We have seen this error for a long time in Android — the Pixel 2 had it as late as July this year with Google promising a fix for that device at the time. If you are experiencing this issue we suggest getting it replaced by Google — keep trying until you find a customer representative willing to replace it.
We have not seen this on our Pixel 3 phones at this stage but the bug is out there. We hope that Google add this fix to the other bug fixes we are desperately hoping for in the near future. The Pixel 3 is a great phone but it feels unfinished with all these software bugs: finish it Google.