Pixel 3 and 3 XL phones are getting stuck in EDL Mode and seemingly bricked


For months users of the three-year-old Pixel 3 series have been complaining of a common and dreadful problem: seemingly random shutdowns that completely lock their devices. The Pixel 3 and 3 XL have been plagued by the "EDL Mode" bug, which locks the device with no screen or button inputs and makes it more or less impossible to use. To date there's no clear solution to this problem, at least not one that's easily available to even advanced users.

Some Pixel 3 owners report a total shutdown after a security update, some say it comes out of nowhere. But the reports are old enough that it's clearly affecting people on multiple builds of Android 11. The common thread 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, a function of the Qualcomm chipset that allows for emergency data recovery and resetting.

A standard power cycle should get you out of EDL mode and booted back into Android, but the users across Reddit, XDA, and Google's support forums and issue tracker say that their phones just boot right back into it when powered up. (In fact the only reliable way to tell that the phone is powered on at all is to plug it into a computer.) The same issue, or very similar ones, have been recorded as recently as yesterday, August 30th and as far back as December of last year. The issues are similar to the Pixel 4 XL power problems that caused the company to extend warranties for another year for affected users.

Google's official support channels are aware of the issue, and that it seems to be accelerating in terms of users in the last few months. But since more or less every Pixel 3 and 3 XL sold is out of warranty at this point, options are limited. You can start an official support ticket with Google and pay for a repair, or (as one volunteer on the Google support forums suggests) take it into an authorized repair shop to see if their Qualcomm tools can get the phone to wake up.

At the time of writing there doesn't seem to be any indication of a user-accessible fix for the EDL issues. We've reached out to Google for comment, and the company has not responded.