Common Google Pixel 3 problems and how to fix them

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are a little more than a year old now. While they’re still receiving the latest software updates like Android 10, many users have reported issues, bugs, and glitches with their devices.

If you have run into any Pixel 3 problems, we’ve put together this guide to identify and deal with the issues. Here’s everything you need to know about Pixel 3 problems, and how to fix them.

Existing problems and issues

Issue: Batteries expanding

The health and safety of smartphone batteries have improved drastically over the last few years. Companies like Samsung, for example, implement an 8-Point Battery Safety Check on all their devices. But under harsh conditions and reckless smartphone handling, any battery has the chance to expand and eventually break. Unfortunately, this has been the case for many Pixel 3 users who have found the back of their phones lifting outward and discovered a protruding battery.

Fix:

  • The most direct solution to an expanding battery is to have it replaced. We recommend using a Google-certified repair service like uBreakiFix, as opposed to the local mall booth. Do not replace the battery on your own.
  • While there isn’t another solution to fix this issue, there are measures that you can take to reduce the chances of it happening in the future. Never leave your phone out if it’s uncomfortably hot or freezing cold, and try your best not to drop or crack the back of the device.

Problem: Boot looping after an update

Boot looping has plagued certain Android devices for years, and sadly, it’s happening on Google Pixel 3s as well. You’ll know if your phone is boot looping when it stays on the starting sequence or repeatedly restarts but never reaches the lock screen. This occurs when there’s a software or hardware change in the device that hinders its performance.

Fix:

  • A solution is turning on Recovery mode. First power off your device, then press and hold the power button and press and hold the volume down key as well once your screen flickers on. Navigate to Recovery mode with your volume rocker, press and hold the power button when No Command shows up, and press the volume up key once and release both buttons.
  • Note that this process will wipe the data and files that are on your Google Pixel 3. Chances are, most of your media and document files are already backed up to Google Photos and Google Drive, so you can retrieve them afterward, but be prepared to lose anything that hasn’t been backed up.

Bug: Photos are disappearing

The Pixel 3 has had its fair share of photography problems, which is unfortunate for a phone that’s topped our list of the best camera phones since its release. The latest problem is that photos are simply disappearing from people’s albums. Multiple people have complained that they’ve taken photos across the span of a night and viewed those photos immediately afterward, only to find that some images have simply disappeared. People have checked the Trash folder but to no avail.

This bug seems to occur on both the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL, and one person has even had this problem on the Android Q beta.

Fix:

  • Unfortunately, there’s no fix or workaround for the moment. You just have to hold tight and wait for a fix from Google.

Issue: Text messages vanishing

Have you noticed text messages on your Pixel device disappearing? You’re not going crazy. According to a report from Android Police, the latest Pixel 3 security update is causing some text messages to disappear on some devices.

Google acknowledged the problem quickly, and promised a fix would be rolling out soon. However, that was back in November 2018, and it seems people are still waiting, with one complaint coming in on December 31.

Fix: 

  • Routinely check for updates on your phone and install them when they arrive. Make sure to check SettingsSystemSystem Update to make sure you’re up-to-date.

Fixed problems and issues

Bug: Camera app slow to open

The Pixel 3’s camera is incredible, but quite a few people are noticing the camera app itself can sometimes take a while to start up. Starting the camera app on older Pixels had always been a snappy affair, so it was puzzling to see it taking a few seconds to load on the Pixel 3. We have confirmed this problem on our Pixel 3 XL, and it even extends to snapping a picture. Where there’s supposed to be zero lag when you tap the shutter button, we’re seeing the Pixel 3 take up to four seconds at times to actually capture the photograph. That’s bad, and frustrating. We reached out to Google.

“We’ve been investigating some reports of camera sluggishness,” a spokesperson told Digital Trends. “We have an update for Camera rolling out in the coming weeks that should improve performance.”

Fix:

  • The March patch should have fixed the issue. Make sure your device is up-to-date if your camera still seems sluggish. Head to check SettingsSystemSystem Update.

Bug: Slow wireless charging marked as ‘Charging Rapidly’

This is an issue that affects anyone charging with a non-Google-branded wireless charger. Because of the weird way Google has set up its wireless charging, it’s not possible to access fast 10W wireless charging on any pad that hasn’t been made by Google. However, the Pixel 3 still displays a “Charging Rapidly” message — even when charging using the slower 5W speeds. It’s not the biggest problem in the world, but it can be annoying if you don’t know about it.

Solution:

  • The weird approach to wireless charging aside, Google pushed out a fix in the November patch, so if it’s bothering you, make sure you’re on the latest patch. Head to SettingsSystemSystem Update to make sure.

Bug: Music app closes when you open the camera app

Some people have reported that opening the camera app while listening to music seems to cause the music app to close in the background, stopping the playback of the music. This is another bug that seems to be related to memory management on the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. We were able to replicate the problem, both with Spotify and with Google’s own YouTube Music.

Because the issue seems to be related to memory handling, it’s very likely we’ll see a software update fixing the issue in the near future. It’s possible the issue is actually the same problem causing photos not to save — and that it all comes down to issues with the Pixel 3 not handling its 4GB of memory well enough. While the fix wasn’t included in November’s patch for the Pixel 3, it was included in December’s.

Solution:

  • Make sure you’re fully up-to-date. To check for an update, head to SettingsSystemSystem Update, and make sure you have the latest version of Android.

Issue: Phone is locked to Verizon

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are Verizon-exclusive phones, basically meaning that Verizon is the only carrier in the U.S. with the right to sell the phones. Some owners, however, have reported that the Pixel 3 from Best Buy was also locked to the Verizon network, meaning users couldn’t buy the phone and activate it on another network. Once the phone was activated on Verizon, it was then unlocked — meaning you could only then use it on another network.

Thankfully, it seems as though Verizon has, at least temporarily, unlocked the Pixel 3 completely. The unlocking was sent to Pixel 3 phones through a software update — so you should be able to set up your phone without a SIM card, update it, then activate it on whatever network you choose.

Potential solution:

  • Set up your phone and then check for a software update. To check for an update, head to SettingsSystemSystem Update, and make sure you have the latest version of Android. You should then be able to activate it on the network of your choice. Keep in mind, this issue mostly affects Best Buy customers — if you purchased your phone from Verizon, expect it to be locked again to Verizon’s network.
  • If you haven’t yet bought the phone, buy it through the Google Store, which sells the phone completely unlocked.

Problem: Photos aren’t saving

A number of users have reported that after taking a photo with the camera app, those photos aren’t saving — essentially meaning that the photo could be gone forever. That’s a pretty major problem, and one that seems to be pretty widespread too — a number of users on Reddit have reported running into it. The issue, in particular, seems to come up when you take a photo with the Google Camera app, then switch to another app or lock the phone immediately after taking the photo. Sometimes, users may see the photo end up back in the gallery, but that’s not always the case, and it doesn’t happen immediately. 

The issue seems to be related to how the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL handle memory, and quitting out before the HDR processing is finished. The upside is that the solution could be as easy as making sure you’ve got the latest software update. While Google ignored the problem in November, it was allegedly solved in December’s update, although not all users may agree.

Solution:

  • Update to the latest version of Android. To check for an update, head to Settings > System > System Update, and make sure you have the latest version of Android.

As more issues pop up for the Google Pixel 3 over time, we’ll continue to update this article with potential solutions.

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