Reports of Pixel 3s bricking with “EDL” message are growing

A growing number of Pixel 3 and 3 XL users say their phones are dying an early death. For months, reports have been piling up on Google’s issue tracker, support forums, and Reddit, all saying basically the same thing: one day, the phones suddenly stop working and become completely unresponsive. The phones can’t boot into Android and will only show a Qualcomm recovery mode called “Emergency Download (EDL) mode.”

The phones that display 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 fresh version of Android onto the devices won’t work, as users can’t get out of EDL mode and into the normal bootloader, where they can use the standard, recommended flashing tools like “fastboot” or Google’s slick, new browser-based Android Flash Tool.

EDL mode is rarely used in the Android hacking and recovery scene, but it’s meant for recovery, presumably before any of the standard Android boot and recovery chain gets loaded onto the phone. When plugged into a PC, phones in EDL mode will identify as “QUSB_BULK_CID,” followed by a serial number. The PC software that communicates with EDL mode is called “QPST,” or the “Qualcomm Product Support Tool,” and could theoretically attempt to flash a new copy of Android onto the Pixel 3, assuming you could get the full NAND image in the right format. Google admirably provides dozens of Pixel 3 system images for download, but they’re meant for the normal Android flashing tools, not QPST.

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