Google Confirms Factory Resets Are Bricking Some Pixel Phones, Fix Incoming

Google Pixel 6 Pro
There are plenty of reasons to factory reset a phone. Perhaps the time has come to sell or give it away, or maybe you got bitten by some nasty malware. Regardless of the reason, you'd reasonably expect the phone to work after being reset, but that's not the experience some Pixel owners have been having. The latest OTA update appears to have broken the system, causing reset phones to become bricks. Google has acknowledged the issue, but a fix is still pending.

The problem affects the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, and Pixel 6a. All three of these phones are running Google's first-generation Tensor system-on-a-chip (SoC). Pixel phones based on other chips are not experiencing any issues after the June OTA, which was slow to arrive on devices, hitting the majority of Pixels in late June. Following that update, owners of the Pixel 6 series reported that factory resetting the phone results in an error message upon restart, and there does not appear to be any way to fix it right now.

After reset, the affected phones only load to the bootloader with an error message saying the 'tune2fs' file is missing. Your only options are to factory reset again (which doesn't work) or restart (which also doesn't work). Most people with these phones are long past the warranty period, so they don't have much recourse. Even people with active warranties often have trouble with Google's support, so you can imagine how frustrating this issue has been.

Pixel 6 brick

It took several days, but Google's support site has now acknowledged the issue. The Pixel team is working to fix the things, but in the meantime, Google has offered some potentially helpful suggestions. Google says you should still be able to reset a Pixel 6 as long as you leave it sitting for at least 15 minutes after rebooting. However, we strongly recommend you don't risk it. Once a phone is in this failure state, there's nothing you can do unless you also happen to have unlocked the bootloader. Google also says you can factory reset before installing the latest OTA, but that's only helpful if you've been willfully ignoring the upgrade notification for a few weeks.

Google's efforts will probably produce a fix for this bug, but the timeline is anyone's guess. Google's only advice for those with bricked Pixels is to keep an eye on the support thread. The support rep notes that engineers have identified the root cause, so it shouldn't be too long a wait.