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Don’t update your Google Pixel phone — you might break it

A person holding the Google Pixel 8, showing the screen.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

One of the reasons to buy a Google Pixel phone is to be first in line to receive software updates — from new Android versions to important security patches. Unfortunately, one of the latest updates from Google is breaking some Pixel phones.

Over the weekend, a Reddit user on the r/GooglePixel subreddit compiled a list of threads from nearly a dozen Pixel owners reporting issues with their phones after downloading the most recent January 2024 Google Play system update.

What’s wrong? In short, the January 2024 update appears to be causing internal storage access issues. This means missing files, unsaved screenshots, camera crashes, etc. The same thing happened last October.

Digging through the various Reddit complaints, the January 2024 update can be quite the stinker. Some of the reported issues include:

  • Unable to access files
  • Missing photos and screenshots
  • Websites not loading
  • Crashing/misbehaving applications
  • Boot-loops
  • Bricked phones

To make matters worse, it appears that the January 2024 update has affected a lot of Pixel models. Issues have been reported for the Google Pixel 5, Pixel 6, and Pixel 7. Even the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are susceptible.

The Google Pixel 8 Pro laying face-down on a concrete structure.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

To make matters worse, Google’s support team hasn’t been very helpful so far. One user says that “Pixel Support wasn’t helpful at all,” while another writes, “Pixel Support’s line of troubleshooting questions have been very basic and they don’t seem to recognize that it’s a widespread issue caused by the January update.”

So, what’s the solution here? Until Google acknowledges the issue and releases a fix for it, your best bet is to factory reset your phone. Numerous reports across Reddit indicate that a factory reset gets things back to normal. Before proceeding, however, you’ll want to ensure you have a recent cloud backup so you don’t lose everything on your phone.

As a reminder, these issues are only happening to Pixel users on the January 2024 Google Play system update. To see which version your Pixel is running, open the Settings app and tap Security & privacy, then System & updates. My Pixel 8 Pro is still running the November 1, 2023, Google Play system update, which could also be the case for you. If so, avoid downloading any new updates until Google has an answer for what’s going on.

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Joe Maring
Section Editor, Mobile
Joe Maring is the Section Editor for Digital Trends' Mobile team, leading the site's coverage for all things smartphones…
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