Skip to main content

Some Pixel phones get stuck dialing 911 emergency services

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

What you need to know

  • A user's Pixel 3 has been stuck making emergency calls.
  • The problem appears to originate from the power button as the device continues rebooting and dialing 911.
  • It's the complete opposite of the issue that prevented users from dialing 911 on their Pixels.

While Google and Microsoft address the odd Teams bug preventing some of the best Android phones from dialing 911, another problem has been afflicting Pixel owners that has caused devices to continuously dial emergency services.

Reddit user Icy-Sea7016 posted about their experience, explaining that their Pixel 3 is essentially stuck in a sort of reboot loop that causes the phone to dial 911 and then restarts, only to repeat the process.

I tried to stay on the line to let them know it was an accident but my phone shut off! It turned back on to them calling and as I was trying to tell them I was safe it hung up again! It continuously restarts no matter what buttons I hit or how I try to boot it. FOUR POLICE OFFICERS JUST SHOWED UP AT MIDNIGHT. I told them I was safe and they seemed okay. I told them I hope it won't happen again.Then I went online and someone mentioned holding direct pressure over a place so I tried it AND MY PHONE IMMEDIATELY STARTING CALLING 911 AGAIN and restarted immediately.

Dialing emergency services appears to be the result of the Pixel's Personal Safety app, which will automatically dial 911 when the power button is clicked five times or more in rapid succession. Needless to say, this isn't the first example of this happening, with plenty of Reddit users in the thread discussing similar experiences with their Pixels.

Other similar reports indicate that it's a hardware problem with the power button getting stuck. Some have managed to get the button unstuck by smacking the side of the phone against their hand or a table (do this at your own risk) or spraying isopropyl alcohol around the power button to loosen it up (again, risk).

However, until it's no longer stuck, it makes it difficult to change the emergency settings on the device before it reboots again. That has been Icy-Sea7016's problem, and they indicate that Google has not been much help, suggesting solutions like changing settings (which they can't do) or letting the battery drain and taking it to get fixed at a third-party repair center.

Given the age of phones like the Pixel 3, Google is no longer obligated to repair the device themselves after the warranty expires. Still, it points out a serious hardware problem that not only leaves phones unusable but bombards emergency services with false 911 calls.

For now, anyone with an older (or even newer) Google phone can follow our guide on how to use the Personal Safety app to manage their emergency settings. Although if you're still rocking the Pixel 3 series, it may be time to consider upgrading now that it's reached the end of its software support.

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.

2 Comments
  • Is this just one user, or is it more widespread? If the former, it's clearly just a defective device and hardly worth a news story... Honestly curious.
  • My Pixel 4XL has done this, only once though, whilst connected to Android Auto. It started boot looping and called 999 here in the UK. Very odd!