Pixel 3 phones are getting stuck in EDL mode and bricking

Google Pixel 3

The Google Pixel 3 series has been out for a few years now, but for months now users have had to deal with a common and frustrating problem that is plaguing their devices, causing random shutdowns that completely lock their devices.

This problem affecting Pixel 3 and 3XL has been dubbed the “EDL Mode” bug, which locks the device with no screen or button inputs and makes it more or less impossible to use. Up to now, there is still no clear solution to this problem that even the advanced users are baffled by what has gone wrong with the Pixel 3 series.

The cause of the “EDL Mode” bug

The exact cause of the bug is currently unknown, but some Pixel 3 owners report a total shutdown after a security update, while others are claiming that the bug just popped up out of nowhere when they were not even installing an update of any kind.

What is clear, though, is that the bug has been around for long enough, and it is affecting people on multiple builds of Android 11. Reports of the issue stretch back to December 2020, and it is still affecting new Pixel 3 users currently.

The common consensus seems to be that the devices can be charged up (wired or wireless) despite a non-functional screen, and plugging them into a PC lets the device manager identify the phone as “QUSB_BULK_CID” followed by a serial number. This indicates that the phone is in Emergency Download (EDL) mode.

EDL mode is basically QUALCOMM’s last defence to prevent the device from hard bricking. It kicks in when the ROM updates or drive changes go wrong. It allows the manufacturers to flash the internal memory and correct issues.

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Normally, a standard power cycle should get the phone out of EDL mode and booted normally back into Android, but Pixel 3 owners across Google’s support forums say that their phones just boot right back into it when powered up. The handsets are non-responsive to the point that the only consistent way you can tell that the phone is even powered on, is to plug it into a computer.

A familiar problem for Google

The Pixel lineup is not new to weird bugs and challenges. Just a few months ago, Google announced that it was extending the warranty for the Pixel 4 XL by an extra year.

The extension was to cover a handful of specific power-related issues, including charging, faster than expected drain, random restarts, and being unable to power on the phone.

Google official support channels are well aware of the issue affecting the Pixel 3 lineup and the fact that it seems to be affecting more users in the last few months.

The stumbling block is that the Pixel 3 and XL are slightly older devices now, and most of them are out of warranty at this point, making options very limited.

As there is still no official solution from Google in dealing with this issue, those bold enough can take their handsets to an authorized shop to see if their Qualcomm tools can get the phone to wake up.