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Pixel 3 owners are being left with bricked phones due to a random 'EDL Mode' bug

Google Pixel 3
Google Pixel 3 (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Owners of the Google Pixel 3 are experiencing a major bug that's leaving phones bricked.
  • Affected devices are unable to leave Emergency Download (EDL) mode and end up unusable.
  • The bug has been reported on multiple channels, but Google has yet to provide any useful guidance.

Many owners of the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have been dealing with a rather bothersome bug that leaves their phones virtually unusable.

The problem seems to happen the same way for many affected users; they'll plug the phone in to charge, go to bed, and wake up to a bricked device. Phones will be put in Emergency Download (EDL) mode, which is a special boot mode for Android devices with Qualcomm chips and can be used to flash, unbrick, or recover data from a device.

Pixel 3 phones being put in EDL Mode are essentially rendered useless with blank displays that don't seem to function at all. Successful attempts to restart devices will simply put them back in EDL Mode.

Affected phones can still be charged and, when plugged into a PC, are identified as "QUSB_BULK_CID" followed by a serial number.

Reports of the bug have been making their rounds across Reddit and the Google support forum since at least December and seem to increase in frequency.

Google appears to be aware of the problem, as indicated by an Issue Tracker, but there does not seem to be a workable solution. A Google employee has indicated that they have passed the problem to the development team "and will update this issue with more information as it becomes available," but that was in June. Since then, more devices seem to have been affected with no available solution.

We've reached out to Google on any updates to the problem but have not yet heard back.

There doesn't seem to be an identifiable cause for the problem, but users have speculated that it's due to a faulty update. Still, the problem seems to appear randomly and without warning for many Pixel 3 owners over many months.

Unfortunately, with most devices already out of warranty, there seems to be very little recourse for affected users outside of paying for a repair from Google, trying their luck at a third-party shop, or going for one of the best cheap Android phones.

This also isn't the only bug that has cropped up from Google lately, with users complaining about RCS connection issues and alarms not going off in the Google Clock app.

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.

5 Comments
  • From other reports I've read it seems to be happening on Android 11. My 3XL doesn't seem to have any issues as I'm running Android 12 Beta 4.1. Knock on wood that it's only an Android version bug, and not on multiple OS versions. Android 12 should be coming soon (maybe this month?), so Google may not be trying to push a fix as releasing 12 would be the fix.
  • This wouldn't work after the fact. My Pixel 3 got tagged with this and there's virtually no way for me to even upgrade to Android 12 now. A blank screen is all I get. Not even the vibration to tell me it's turning on. It's truly a bricked phone now. I'm back on my Pixel 1 wondering how my 5 year phone outlasted my 3 year phone. Also wondering if I'm going to stay with the Pixel line. Google needs to acknowledge something about this.
  • People still plug their phones in to charge all night? Christ.
  • Now sure if Christ does, but yes, a lot of people plug their phones in to charge. Don't like it. Tough....
  • If this ever happened to me, I would NEVER purchase another google phone; too many others to choose from. Even if google offered to replace the phone; there would be a time period when a phone was not available and this could lead to a life/death situation for some people.