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Pixel 3 owners are reporting bricked phones at an alarming rate

Published Sep 7th, 2021 9:09PM EDT
Pixel 3 bricked
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

The Pixel 6 is unlike any phone Google has ever released before. It has a modern design that actually stands toe to toe with offerings from Apple and Samsung. Google has also confirmed that the Pixel 6 will be the first to features its own Tensor chipset. Android users have plenty of reasons to be excited about the next Pixel, but recent news might give them pause. Ars Technica notes that an alarming number of Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL owners say their phones are bricked.

In recent months, dozens of Pixel 3 owners have reported that their phones have died unexpectedly. From Google’s own issue tracker and support forums to the Google Pixel subreddit, their reports are shockingly widespread. Virtually all of these reports describe the same issue. A Pixel 3 user attempts to turn on their phone only to be greeted by a black screen. Some users see a Qualcomm recovery mode (EDL), but it’s not possible to boot to Android from that mode.

Pixel 3 users report bricked phones

Here’s one user’s account of how the issue presented itself on their Pixel 3 XL:

My Pixel 3 XL “bricked” overnight and went completely unresponsive.  The usual troubleshooting steps of holding the power button or holding the power+volume-down buttons don’t work.  My computer recognizes the device as QUSB_BULK_CID:xxxx_SN:xxxxxxxx.  When I hold the power button for 15s the computer can detect it turning on/off.

On the issue tracker, Google employees have asked users experiencing issues to generate and send in bug reports. The only problem is that they can’t actually boot to Android, making this step impossible. Also, flashing Android onto a bricked phone the recommended way can’t be done either.

Months later, it’s still not entirely clear what is going wrong. Ars Technica suggests the fact the phones can’t recover likely points to a hardware issue rather than a software bug. A similar issue affected LG phones a few years ago which got caught in endless “bootloop” error cycles.

Google has yet to issue a statement or provide any relief to those affected by the problem. Ars Technica points out that Google extended the warranty of the Pixel 4 XL by a year for power-related issues. Meanwhile, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are now nearly three years old. If you bought either phone at launch, your warranty has expired by now. If these reports continue to crop up, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Google offer a similar solution to Pixel 3 owners.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.