A growing number of Pixel 3 and 3 XL users say their phones are dying an early death. For months, the reports piled up on Google’s issue tracker, support forums, and Reddit, all saying essentially the same thing: One day, the phones suddenly stop working and become completely unresponsive. The phones cannot boot into Android and only show a Qualcomm recovery mode called “Emergency Download (EDL) Mode”.
The phones displaying EDL mode are completely useless bricks. Some Googlers in the support thread are asking for Android-generated bug reports, which collect a ton of diagnostic data about running processes. But users can’t submit those reports because the phones won’t boot into Android. The normal tricks used to flash a new version of Android on the devices won’t work as users can’t exit EDL mode and go to normal bootloader where they can use the default recommended flash tools like ” fastboot” or Google’s slick new browser-based Android Flash Tool.
EDL mode is rarely used in the Android hack and recovery scene, but is intended for recovery, presumably before any of the standard Android boot and recovery chains are loaded onto the phone. When connected to a PC, phones in EDL mode are identified as “QUSB_BULK_CID” followed by a serial number. The PC software that interacts with EDL mode is called “QPST” or the “Qualcomm Product Support Tool” and could theoretically attempt to flash a fresh copy of Android onto the Pixel 3, assuming you have the full NAND image. properly sized. Google admirably offers dozens of Pixel 3 system images for download, but they’re meant for the regular Android flash tools, not QPST.
Getting the right files probably still wouldn’t solve anything. We can only speculate as to what the problem is but reports of phones dying over the course of several months and a complete lack of recovery options indicate that the problem is not due to a software update. This sounds a lot like a batch of hardware components with a poor shelf life. It’s all very reminiscent of the bootloop problems that plagued LG phones for years, including the Google-branded LG Nexus 5X. In that case, phones would suddenly stop booting due to bad solder connections between the board and the CPU.
The Pixel 3 marked the start of Google as a more independent hardware company (rather than teaming up with several competing Android OEMs), and most reports state that the Pixel 3 is manufactured by Foxconn. The Pixel 3 was released in late 2018 and continued to sell for about 18 months, so whether you’re still under the two-year warranty depends on when you bought your phone. Google recently extended the Pixel 4 XL warranty to three years due to certain hardware issues such as random reboots and a fast draining battery. It would be nice to see the company offer the same support to Pixel 3 owners.