Android 10 bug that breaks Pixel sensors still unfixed after more than five months

The bug breaks sensors used for features like auto-brightness, 'Lift to Wake' and other Pixel features.

Pixel 3 fingerprint sensor

A long-standing Android 10 bug affecting Pixel devices remains unfixed after more than five months.

Reports first began surfacing last year after the Android 10 update began rolling out. It can impact Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, 2 XL, 3, 3 XL, 3a and 3a XL devices, but it’s worth noting that not everyone fell victim to the bug.

Essentially, the bug occurs when updating to Android 10. The update process corrupts a ‘persist partition’ on some Pixel phones. That partition holds important data for calibrating a device’s sensors. In other words, when corrupted, things like automatic brightness, auto-rotation, ‘Flip to Shhh,’ ‘Lift to Wake’ and the ‘squeeze’ to launch Assistant feature don’t work because the internal sensors those feature rely on also stop working properly.

Android Police notes that the bug impacted enthusiasts who rooted their devices and installed custom kernels and other software, but it also affected some users who didn’t tinker with their phones. The worst-case scenario is for some U.S. Pixel owners with Verizon-branded devices, as those are locked and make it much harder, if not completely impossible, to use one of the workarounds. Thankfully, most Canadian’s won’t be in that crowd.

Some workarounds exist, but most are too technical for the average user

Speaking of workarounds, there are currently three available for the issue. The first is to simply downgrade to Android 9 Pie. Doing so seems to bring back the functionality for some users, but updating to Android 10 after could break everything again. Alternatively, Pixel owners can use two different methods to restore the corrupted partition’s data.

However, to do that, they’ll need to get their hands on a copy of that data from the same model phone running Android 10. So, not only do you need to find someone with the same phone as you, but they need to be running Android 10 and not be affected by the bug, and that doesn’t even address the possible security concerns of sharing system data like that. Plus, for the less technically minded, going through the process of restoring the partition is a daunting task at best. Those who regularly root or ROM their devices may not have as much trouble, however.

The October 2019 update was supposed to fix the problem

It’s also worth noting that many users have seen the issue fix itself in the last few months. However, the Google Issue Tracker page for the bug has over 350 comments and no official fix, suggesting the bug is still a significant problem for many. Currently, the bug is labelled as ‘priority one.’

However, Google also said that the October 2019 update would fix the issue, but Android Police notes that that doesn’t seem to be the case. And if you own an original Pixel or Pixel XL with the bug, you’re out of luck because Google ended support and there won’t be any more updates for those phones.

All in all, it’s a pretty terrible situation to be in, especially for those with older devices that may no longer be covered by their warranty. Hopefully, Google gets it sorted out soon.

Source: Google Issue Tracker Via: Android Police