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Something Is Bricking Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL Phones

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(Photo: Ryan Whitwam)Another day, another Pixel crisis: Riding the tail of a relatively widespread overheating issue while shooting in 4K, Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones everywhere are rendering themselves useless in perpetual emergency download (EDL) mode, according to a number of posts on Google support forums and on Reddit. Though Pixel users have been reporting the issue for at least several months, the last few weeks have seen an uptick in online complaints.

EDL mode (a feature built into the Qualcomm chips used in every Google Pixel except the new Pixel 6) traditionally allows users to unbrick a phone by force-flashing the device’s firmware. This is most often necessary if a user incorrectly makes system-level modifications or flashes improper software, in which case the phone “soft-bricks,” or shows signs of life but is unable to reboot. But EDL mode is meant to be intentionally accessed—almost like an escape hatch—while the users posting about the issue are often waking up to their phones stuck there seemingly by chance.

Users are confirming their devices are in EDL mode by plugging them into their computers, where the devices’ IDs display as “QUSB_BULK_CID” followed by their corresponding serial numbers. Many of these devices can be charged, but the screens remain unresponsive.

(Photo: PCMag)

“My Pixel 3 hard-bricked (while sitting in my hand) 2 days ago,” reads one post on the Google Pixel Phone Help forum. “I took [it] to a local tech . . . later that day he told me he got 2 other Pixel 3s with the exact same issue. He said he rarely gets Pixels, hadn’t seen them in months, now he has 3 all at once.”

The issue is so widespread that some Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL users are wondering if it could result in a class-action lawsuit, similar to one from last year that focused on the same models’ tendency to suddenly shut down or cause the camera app to crash. Google has yet to provide advice or resolution for the issue, and all Pixel 3s are out of warranty by this point. A thread exists in the Google IssueTracker, where users have been relaying their own experiences since June.

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