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Google postpones its messy December Pixel 6 update until late January

Google Pixel 6 Water Front Home
Google Pixel 6 Water Front Home (Image credit: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The recent December Pixel Drop caused significant mobile connectivity issues for some Pixel 6 owners.
  • Google has "identified a fix" but won't deliver it to users until late January.
  • The next update will include all of the previous bug fixes.
  • If you've downloaded the update already, your only recourse is to use the Android Flash Tool to revert to the previous version.

Google's December update fixed a variety of Pixel 6 bugs that had plagued the phone since launch. Unfortunately, it also introduced an even worse bug that hamstrung the Pixel 6's network connectivity. Some users couldn't connect to networks in areas with great coverage and reported frequent signal drops.

Google said it was looking into the issue on December 17, and paused the update's rollout. Now, nearly two weeks later, a Pixel support page indicates Google has found a fix for the issue. Unfortunately, they won't roll out that fix until "late January," meaning anyone with the current update would have to endure an extra month of poor reception.

"If you received the December software update on Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro and are still experiencing mobile connectivity issues, you can revert to the previous software version using the Android Flash Tool (flash.android.com) and performing a factory reset," the post explains.

If you're not experiencing any signal issues, you can continue to use the current build. But if you never received the update to begin with, you'll have to wait an extra month for all of the bug fixes and new features associated with it.

There are several obvious issues with this solution. One, it requires people to back up their phones and go through a manual update process, instead of Google fixing the problem via OTA; many Pixel 6 owners may never see this option. And two, reverting to the last build will reintroduce all of the bugs the Google devs had fixed and roll back the security patch.

Evidently, this Pixel 6 bug isn't something that the developers can fix quickly, or else they would have. We've seen other bugs, like Microsoft Teams blocking 911 calls, patched in days rather than weeks.

Nevertheless, it's disappointing that Google's first foray with its own SoC, Tensor, has led to such a buggy experience all around. While we consider the Pixel 6 one of the best Android phones for hardware quality, the software experience has proved sub-optimal for many users.

With new phones like the Samsung Galaxy S22 and OnePlus 10 on the way in early 2022, it'll be interesting to see if some Pixel owners jump ship before Google can right it.

Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.

36 Comments
  • The I told you so brigade will be all over this! another buggy mess from Google! I learned years ago with the Pixel Slate (it was horrific) and I swore never again will I touch Google hardware until it's been out about 12 months.
  • Sigh! Do you even have a Pixel6 pro? I bet not, but you want to jump on the bash a pixel bandwagon. The phone is NOT a buggy mess! Again! SIGH! Here comes the non pixel owning haters to spread more hate. If you think you're a genius for not buying a Pixel then why do you need affirmation in the comment section by saying why you didn't get one? Why are you even reading pixel news? You have that choice of course, but why waste your time? You don't have the device and have chosen something else, but you still have an uncontrollable urge to bash the Google pixel 6 pro and the Google Pixel 6. Why?
  • Maybe because every year they release a pixel it’s a complete **** show of a mess.
  • Like your username chill! don't take it personally, I've stated above in my comment my own reasons for not trusting Google hardware I was burned buying a Pixel Slate, I also owned a Nexus 9 tablet! and a Pixel 3 XL both faulty. This is my own personal experience, in answer to your question I don't own a Pixel 6 and I don't think I'm a genuis for not buying one haha! but I'd be pretty bloody stupid continuing to buy from a company thats let me down before! that's not genius thats commone sense and experience! I simply will never buy one.
  • Why am I even reading Pixel news? 😂 sorry I thought this was a Android site? didn't know you can only read and comment on devices from manufacturers that you own?🤡
  • So, it's your opinion that the phone is a buggy mess based on what, your past experiences with Google products!? In fact, most people who use recent pixel devices have lauded the software but have not been in love with the hardware. You're in a small minority when it comes to software experience and Google! Sorry but you sound like the🤡. And, you sound even more clownish when you are choosing to speak on something as if it's your own experience when you actually have not experienced it yourself. You're just parroting! You're doing what so many others before you and after you will do and have done. Where's your actual thought with regards to a brand new SoC and a brand new software experience on that same SoC? You can give your opinion with regards to that, but you CANNOT speak on a device that you have not used and extrapolate your past experiences to said device. The device and software are completely different from anything you've experienced before, yes or no? Again, the Google pixel 6 pro is no more buggy than Android 12 on any other device. And, the update in January will get it on track. I've used every version of Google pixel and Nexus since way back when and I can't remember a bad enough software experience with those devices to keep me from wanting the latest and greatest. Just sayin. You can and that's fine, but the Google 6 pro is NOT a buggy mess and you're misguided there laddymalloyd! Lol! 😁
  • Seriously you typed all that out cause I said buggy mess as a throw away comment on a Android forum! I'm glad your not experiencing any issues with your Pixel enjoy your phone.
  • A person does not need to have the phone in their hands to read the internet, to read about all the problems which many are even NOTED BY GOOGLE. Maybe some of us are smart enough to wait and see and not purchase a product like this and then sit around and try and defend it when in all reality, probably not a happy person to have it in their hands. But just hate to admit that fact to others. If there was no problems with this phone, why is google running around in circles trying to get fixes for the problems. Can they even fix some of the problems since many might be due to old, out-dated hardware such as the modem (Exynos 5123) that has NEVER BEEN USED IN THE USA. And I guess you haven't read the Pixel 6 forum here and seen the two pages of noted problems with the Pixel 6 series and not just from a few, and that is not counting all the posts, posted by people on this forum not even noted in the two pages in one posting.
    I guess you need to read the internet more often. (However, I will agree some of these problems are most likely related to the Android 12...but again that is google. And I have been running Android 12 since it first came out and none of these problems are on my 4XL. I have a Pixel 4XL, it had bugs I still got it and it turned out to be a great phone. however, the pixel 4 forum NEVER had the number of complaints the 6 has had and now, google is pushing the so-called fixes back to January! I don't believe they can fix all the problems with software; due to theExynos 5123. You say the update in January will get it on track? Would you bet on that? Could that update, do what the December update did to the phone screw it up more or with different flaws?
    Time will tell. As someone who ordered this phone twice to have the orders screwed up by Google now feels google did me a favor. For someone (me) who really wanted this phone has now lost all faith and will head to another company, Up until I read that it will take well over a month for google to ATTEMPT to fix the problems I still wanted the phone. NO MORE! We are not talking about playing games, we are not talking about alarms we ARE TALKING ABOUT CONNECTIVITY PROBLEMS. Connectivity is the major function of a phone. The modems primary job is to connect to networks, mobile, BT, WI-FI. Without connectivity, it is no longer a phone, it is a brick! I believe it is time for google to remain in the software world, and forget the hardware. At least their last phones were designed and manufactured by other companies. Probably, in March, I'll be holding an S22U and never looking back.
  • I have read and listened to nearly every review there is about this phone. The FPS was it's biggest issue full stop! Everything else is conjecture unless you got the December update OTA and it broke connectivity. But, by and large, that update did not hit the states and it was pulled because it was inadequate. But, the number of people running around here with pixel connectivity issues is way lower than what you seem to think. I'm not blindly defending the Google pixel 6 pro, but I am one of many who have not experienced a buggy phone. In fact, the experience has been pretty awesome! With regards to your S22U, Sammy just escaped its long-standing reputation for over bloated software and late updates, but you're ready to dive back in. I had the S21U and absolutely hated Bixby, dual apps, advertisement pop ups everywhere, paid for wallpapers and theming, otherwise it's garbage to choose from. Hated having to tap and gesture way more often to get to the same place compared to stock Android. The S21U was also buggy. It has a great screen and was very snappy, but the phone was heavy and tall which made maneuvering it with one hand quite difficult. In my experience the FPS would not work with even a tiny bit of perspiration on your finger. It had a great camera, but not as good as the pixel IMHO unless you want to zoom more than 20x or shoot macro. Yes, it has a magic eraser feature, but you have to dig through menus to get to it. I hate that you can't default Google assistance through Bluetooth headphones. Had tons of connection problems inside my home. I literally could not connect or make phone calls. Never had those issues with either my Google pixel 4xl, iPhone 11, or the Google pixel 6 pro. Sammy always has a damn menu for something. And there seems to be endless customization. I'm not saying Sammy is better or worse than the Google pixel 6, but it has issues that make you wish you had stock Android.
  • I bought and own a Pixel 6. The pixel 6 launch has been a buggy mess. That's not being a "hater", it's just objectivity.
  • The launch of the pixel 6 has been absolutely horrible, but the user experience has not been a buggy mess for myself and many others. The launch of the device and the device aren't the same issue. But, they are under the same roof! 😁
  • The experience has also been a mess for a lot of people, myself included. Google have proven themselves unreliable and untrustworthy with this phone.
  • I 100% agree! I am disappointed to say the least. I will be switching to the S22U asap
  • My pixel 6 pro is working just fine with no real issues. The truth is with a brand new SoC, I expected there would be kinks to be worked out. It's just unfortunate that Google is having these issues because so many people are complaining about an update as if Google has fallen off the wagon when, in fact, the disappointment of not receiving the December update is FAR more frustrating than the phone's current software. And, communication with the customer base works best. We can stop mashing the update button now because we can expect an update sometime next month. That works for me. The phone works well, but I am peeved that my scam call detection is disabled. That REALLY SUCKS!
  • Mine never got the update! I'm glad.
  • I hadn't noticed the bugs on my Pixel 6 Pro, so not getting the buggy bug fixes probably doesn't affect me much. I was wondering why I hadn't received the update yet, so now I know. So far I am very happy with it.
  • I haven't noticed any problems on my 6 Pro yet. I'm on the December patch. Telus Mobility, downtown Toronto.
  • Same.
    Ontario, on Bell.
  • I'm with Telus also, on December update which I sideloaded on my Pixel 6 Pro and not a single problem.
    Such an incredible phone, loving it.
  • I regret buying my Pixel 6 everyday. Nothing significantly wrong, but the sum total of all the annoyances make me think it was a bad choice every day. Like having shoes that are a little tight. You can still walk, but it is annoying. That has been my experience with the phone. FPS is annoying, keyboard accuracy is worse than my Pixel 4 and other phones before, weaker signal everywhere (to where some places there is none), having to reboot at least once per day to get the translate to work. I'll survive, but if the January update doesn't fix these things, I'll be on the hunt for a new phone that I can just use without noticing the flaws.
  • Mmm well this comments section took a turn 😂
  • back on topic: all of these types of problems were predictable. Not because Google can't make a polished device (though, I have my doubts). Rather, the 6 was such a change of direction, not least because of the newness of the Tensor SoC. Back in the day, my grandfathers always warned against buying the first generation of any car/truck (new motor, trans, etc.). Their advice was to let the other fools who had to have it first identify and work out all the problems with the vehicle. Wait till year 2 to purchase a more "finished" product. (Kind of like those early adopters of the Galaxy Fold...it needed to bake a little while longer.)
  • Remember, iPhone 5s with the breakthrough Apple A7 chip did NOT have these issues in 2013. Everything was designed for the A7 chip from ground up overnight by Apple.
  • the exception that proves the rule
  • I'll keep it short and concise. The connectivity of my Pixel 6 Pro is very weak, Mobile Network Standby and Idle are horrendous battery drains. I've mentioned this from the early stages of use to Google Advanced Support and they kept on replying without admitting there were any problems. I posted very early on that the problem I'm having is due to the weak modem, outdated and struggling to find connections, even with strong signals available. Having to disable 5G in a 5G phone is INSANE! This phone's Achilles heel is the weak modem and associated software for it that reeks big time. Google needs to step up and replace the modems with better ones along with software to support the modems and enhance the connectivity. If they don't, they need to refund in whole, the costs to the customers for this travesty of poor customer service and less than stellar design.
  • I just can't speak on poor connectivity because I had the same issues with my S21U 5G! I'm sure that it just may be my location and the T-Mobile 5g network but I'm not convinced that it's a modem issue. With regards to battery, I'm on my phone for nearly 8 hours of SOT with 18 hrs standby. It's a charge once a day all day battery for me, albeit I'm wifi connected 60% of the time. I often leave home to make phone calls to chat with buddies and I've had a couple of dropped calls, but nothing to alarm me that there's a serious issue and they happen in the same dropped call areas where I had issue with my S21U 5G. I believe the pixel 6 pro issues exist, but I also believe it's mostly software related. I also believe Google will resolve most of these issues for its customers. I'm disappointed at the wait times to correct these issues and bugs, but I also expected them on a brand new SOC. And, yes, I give them the benefit of the doubt because I DO NOT LIKE any other iteration of Android on any other device as much as that of the pixel phones.
  • This is disappointing especially when you consider that the pixel team most likely is composed of several exceptional programmers and engineers with years of experience and virtually unlimited resources. If whatever this problem is will take up to a month to fix I suspect it is related to the modem which also means it could be a hardware issue that can’t be fixed in the long term. Google really should have went with a different modem for the pixel 6.
  • Okay, WTF is happening in this thread? This feels less about the phone and more like a mental call for help!
  • Pixel users are the beta testers for Google. Funny those people said  once they started charging flagship prices that wasn't the case, but years later, Google still can't get their **** together.
  • I have had zero problems with my Pixel 6.
  • Really wish Google Play Editions were still a thing! Samsung hardware and Google Software would be a perfect mix!
  • Second this. A Note 20 Ultra without all the Samsung UI crap would be my ideal device.
  • I'm ditching this POS the first chance I get... I'm done convincing myself that it'll be ok after the next update. That's a sad statement for any "flagship" owner to make
  • I'm sure glad I got the December update before it was pulled.
    No issues whatsoever on my Pixel 6 Pro.
  • I'm ok waiting since the Pixel 6 Pro hasn't been my daily driver. If it were, I'd be highly pissed and disappointment, but of course I would have returned it way sooner. But giving it a chance since I knew the new OS etc. was going to be a risk. My bad for taking that risk.
  • Phew! Glad I got my Fold 3...