Google Pixel 6 bugs & how to fix them: Delayed updates, biometric failures, signal issues, and more
Many of the writers here at addROM Community have enjoyed our experiences with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro — so much so, in fact, that the smaller model earned our highly-coveted editor’s choice award for 2021. That’s not to say either phone is flawless, of course. As has become something of a tradition for Google, there are quite a few weird quirks and bugs in need of some serious squashing — and thankfully, the company has been pretty proactive with its fixes. Here’s everything wrong with the Pixel 6 series that’s been spotted so far.
It seemed like things were back on track. The February patch arrived on time, seemingly setting the standard for the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro moving forward, but unfortunately, it came an as-of-yet unfixed Wi-Fi bug. What’s worse, of course, is the March update meant to resolve the issue was delayed, marking — by our count — the fourth time a patch was either missing or pulled for Google’s latest devices.
How to fix the Pixel 6’s delayed updates
It sounds like the March update is on track to arrive in late March, but that’s not going to help with the constant delays facing the Pixel 6 right now. Honestly, all we can do is keep our fingers crossed that Google eventually figures out what’s up with its constant update issues here. Speedy software releases are supposed to be one of the selling points for the Pixel series, but unfortunately, these latest devices don’t seem to live up to that standard.
Wi-Fi signal struggles
Google’s February security patch was supposed to be a moment for the company to reset. It’s the first time an update reached the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro on time since launch, but it’s included a pretty significant bug of its own. Plenty of Pixel users around the web have reported Wi-Fi randomly shutting off on their phone, even after toggling it back on. In some cases, re-enabling Wi-Fi also disables Bluetooth, and for a phone without a headphone jack, that’s a pretty serious issue.
How to fix the Wi-Fi signal issues on the Pixel 6
It took a few weeks, but Google has finally acknowledged this bug on Reddit through its Pixel Community account, admitting it affects “a small number of devices.” The good news is a patch is officially on the way. The bad news, of course, is that you’ll have to wait for the March update to get it — and so far, it has yet to arrive.
Every time the Pixel 6’s battery life drops by a percentage — say, from 85 to 84 — the screen freezes for up to two seconds, ignoring all input during this time. This bug can range from frustrating to completely unacceptable, depending on what you’re doing when the battery level finally dips.
How to fix touch-input issues on the Pixel 6
The fix: Disabling all accessibility services — including things like Voice Access — does the trick, but that’s pretty extreme. A month after the bug was discovered, Google finally announced it had prepared a fix, promising its arrival in a “future build.” Unfortunately, February’s patch did not resolve these issues.
External DACs aren’t functioning
External DACs are usually only used by audiophiles and enthusiasts, but we’d guess Pixel 6 buyers happen to crossover into both categories pretty often. Unfortunately, neither phone has been able to take advantage of superior sound quality since launch, and as time has marched on, it’s only grown more noticeable as an issue.
How to fix external DACs not working with the Pixel 6
It took more than a month for Google to issue a response, and unfortunately, it’s not all good news. While the company has identified a fix for using external DACs with the Pixel 6, it’s going to take time before it arrives in an update — a lot of time. Google says you should expect a patch to roll out sometime this summer.
Google’s December patch was supposed to solve many of the issues that have plagued the Pixel 6 since launch — and in its defense, it sort of did. The company put plenty of the bugs on this list to bed with its latest software, but it also introduced a significant problem: signal issues. Although an early theory suggested Google had pushed pixel owners in Europe the wrong build, it later confirmed that’s not the case.
How to fix signal issues with the Pixel 6
Your best bet is to install the recent January patch, if you haven’t already. Not only does it include all of those fixes meant for the December update, but it also solves these signal issues created by the December update. If you don’t have that update, you can also try installing a beta version of Google’s Carrier Services app. The company halted installs through the Play Store, but it’s still available as an APK through APK Mirror.
Sluggish fingerprint sensor
The fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro is slow and inconsistent on its own — easily the biggest blemish on otherwise excellent hardware. However, it’s not the only issue with security on this phone. At least a couple of users have noted their device can be unlocked using other people’s fingerprints, running counter to Google’s “boosted security” excuses for the sluggish sensor. Some Pixel 6 owners have also noticed that biometrics stop working entirely after its battery has been completely drained, requiring a factory reset to start working again.
How to fix the slow fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 6
Google issued a surprise software update in November to help address many of the issues surrounding the fingerprint sensor. It’s out for unlocked and select carrier devices, while all other Pixel 6 phones received the fix through either the (pulled) December patch or the follow-up January release.
As annoying — and potentially unsafe — as the fingerprint sensor might be, it’s not the only issue with the phone. Not long after launch, some users began to take notice of an odd screen flicker, specifically with the Pixel 6 Pro. Many device owners were concerned about the possibility of a hardware defect, but thankfully, this is one issue Google has confirmed as a software bug.
How to fix screen flicker on the Pixel 6
A software tweak to prevent this issue is part of Google’s December update for its phones. Although that patch was pulled, you can now grab the January release for the same effect.
Speaking of problems Google has pledged to correct: ghost dialing. It’s a real problem on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, especially if you have any contacts in your phone named “James.” Turns out Assistant wake words are to blame for this bug, and like the screen flickering, the company promised to put out a patch before the end of the year.
How to fix ghost dialing on the Pixel 6
Lucky for us, it didn’t take that long. A fix for the Google app arrived in the Play Store in mid-November, helping to put the kibosh on accidentally calling all of the James-es in your life. If you’re still having issues, try disabling hotword detection and make sure all of the apps on your phone are up to date.
Faster animations, broken AOD
If you’re the type of Android user who loves to dive deep into developer options to make the phone your own, you might want to be careful about what you change. Tweaking the animation duration scale on Android is a classic way to make your device feel faster, but it breaks the always-on display on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, resulting in the fingerprint sensor and battery info randomly disappearing.
How to fix always-on display glitches on the Pixel 6
This one’s simple — just make sure you don’t change the animation duration scale in dev options. If you’ve enabled developer mode on your phone, search your settings menu for both window and transition animation scales, and make sure both are set to 1x. And hey, if this tweak is a must-have for you, the patch notes for Google’s December update — which is also included in the January patch — include a solution as well.
Although we’re including it in the round-up, this issue isn’t so much a “bug” as it is something to keep in mind when buying the phone. Some users have discovered that certain cables — specifically older and cheaper ones — don’t charge the Pixel 6 or 6 Pro. There’s no warning message on an affected smartphone; it simply acts like it hasn’t been plugged in.
How to fix charging cables not working with the Pixel 6
There’s no incoming fix for this issue because, at least from Google’s perspective, the phone is working as intended. Keeping your device from powering up with an unsafe charging cable might be frustrating if most of your USB-C cords are older, but it might just be the push you need to buy a couple of new ones.
Refresh rate woes
Many users, including AP’s own Taylor Kerns, have experienced problems with both models switching between various refresh rates. For the most part, it sounds like both Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are getting stuck at 60Hz, with various Reddit threads filled with people unsure of how to experience their ultra-fast displays.
How to fix refresh rate problems on the Pixel 6
Like several of the fixes on this list, Google’s January update — and previously, its botched December patch — will fix this right up. The release notes specifically mention a solution for Smooth Display getting stuck in specific modes. If you’re still experiencing problems, March’s patch notes also mention a fix for anyone getting stuck in 60Hz mode once it actually hits phones.
The auto-rotate blues
Plenty of users — including some here at AP — have run into an issue with auto-rotate no longer working on their phones. This bug can have some pretty significant ripple effects, including stopping your phone from taking landscape photos.
How to fix auto-rotate bugs on the Pixel 6
There’s no permanent solution, but there’s a temporary one: restart your phone. Once you’ve done a quick reboot, your accelerometer should be working again normally.
Other Pixel 6 bugs
As with any phone launch, there’s been a handful of frustrating — but fairly common — problems as well. The Pixel 6 is far from the first device to have a Verizon-specific SKU, but plenty of buyers have opted to buy unlocked thanks to the mmWave markup on the smaller model. Unfortunately, several issues with failed SIM cards and missing software updates have caused plenty of pain for Verizon subscribers, resulting in necessary eSIM registration or build sideloading. It’s not the first time this sort of headache has haunted a new phone release, but it is an entirely avoidable one.
There’s also a few battery struggles with both models, ranging from unreliable and wildly variable battery life to slower charging speeds than expected. It’s tough to call the latter a bug — more like marketing gone wrong, really — but the former may be an example of different use cases putting a strain on the phone’s Tensor chip. Adaptive battery life also takes a couple of weeks of use to really kick in, and there’s always the possibility of a future update evening things out.
Some reports on social media — including from AP’s founder Artem Russakovskii — also include overheating and poor automatic screen brightness. The latter can certainly be tweaked through software, though we’ll have to wait and see if the Tensor CPU is responsible for higher-than-usual temperatures.
No phone is perfect, and Google’s “first-ever flagship” is absolutely no different. Once the Pixel 6 has a couple (more) updates under its belt, we’ll hopefully start to see the smaller issues get ironed out. Until then, waiting to pick up the phone might not be such a bad idea.