Some Pixel 3 devices are stuck on EDL mode, and nobody knows why
The Pixel 3 series launched in October of 2018, so it’s not that old, certainly not old enough for people to have to worry about random hardware failures. And yet there is a growing number of reports from Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL owners whose devices are stuck in Emergency Download (EDL) mode. EDL mode is a low-level recovery mode that ships on mobile devices with Qualcomm chipsets, and it’s used for reflashing software when the device otherwise fails to boot. For a phone to suddenly enter EDL mode suggests there’s something seriously wrong with the device that prevents it from booting normally, and that seems to be happening here.
Reports of this problem are piling high on Google’s issue tracker, support forums, and Reddit (via ArsTechnica). It’s reminiscent of the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, two devices that had their own failure-to-boot problems in the past. In those cases, it was possible to recover the phone by installing a modified boot image, but in this case, no such fix has been discovered yet.
Since EDL mode is designed to flash special types of images and not regular ‘fastboot’ packages that Google releases, there’s currently no way to recover the Pixel 3 or 3 XL from this mode. It’s also difficult to diagnose the problem: Some Googlers in the support thread asking for Android’s generated bug reports were left hanging since users aren’t able to get these reports without a working phone.
To restore the factory firmware on a device in EDL mode, you need both a NAND image and QPST, or the Qualcomm Product Support Tool. Even if the right files for the Pixel 3 and 3 XL were obtained, there’s no guarantee that the problem that caused these devices to enter EDL mode in the first place would be resolved by a factory restore. Phones with Qualcomm chips may boot into EDL mode when a severe fault is detected that makes it impossible for the phone to boot, meaning that the right files might not even flash, or if they do, the phone still may not boot.
It’s unknown what the root cause of this problem is, though the Pixel 3 and 3 XL are not the first Pixel phones to face hardware issues. The Pixel 4 XL recently had its warranty extended by one year thanks to power and charging issues, for example. We’ll be sure to update this article if Google releases a statement after investigating the problem.