There are many ways to update an Android phone. Most people probably wait for the latest patches to arrive and let their phones run the update automatically. This is the most convenient option, but it’s also the slowest, since it depends on your carrier to roll the update out to you. There are ways to get updates faster—like sideloading new updates yourself—but these can be intimidating and confusing for people who don’t want to mess around with extra software or system-level operations.
Pixel owners have a bonus option for getting their updates early, and it doesn’t require much extra work. All you have to do is use Google’s Pixel Update and Repair service to find and install new updates. While it’s more complicated than waiting for the update to show up on your phone and pressing a few buttons to install it, updating through the Pixel Update and Repair web tool is a great way to get the latest Android patches and updates for your Pixel device if everyone else has them but you.
How to update Pixel devices with Google’s Pixel Update and Repair service
This process should be simple enough for general users, as Google’s Repair Tools guides you through every step of the process, but you’ll need a few things before you get started:
- A PC.
- Your Pixel device.
- A USB cable to connect your phone to your PC. (Keep them disconnected until you’re prompted to plug it in by the Pixel Repair tool.)
- A web browser that supports WebUSB (Chrome should do the trick, but the new Chromium Edge also works).
Once you have all the necessary components, you can dive right in. Here’s how to use the Pixel Repair tool to update your Pixel phone (via 9to5Google):
- On your PC, go to the Google Pixel Update and Repair page.
- Select the carrier in the dropdown box. If you don’t see your carrier listed, click “additional carriers,” and if you bought an unlocked device, select additional carriers > Other.
- Click “Next” once you’ve picked your carrier to begin the repair and update process.
- First, the tool will guide you through backing up your data, though you can also consult our guide for backing up Android data if you need help.
- The on-screen instruction will then guide you through the remaining steps, which mostly entail a few small settings changes to put your phone into “Rescue Mode;” connecting your phone to your PC via USB; then clicking more buttons and waiting for the to updates arrive.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If no updates are available for your phone, you’ll be prompted to factory-reset your device. DO NOT DO THIS. This will wipe all data off your phone, which can’t be recovered if you didn’t back it up.
Close the Repair Tool page when you get to that step and nothing will happen. However, your phone will be left in Rescue Mode. If that’s the case (like it was for me and my Pixel 3a), then you can undo Rescue Mode by doing one of the following:
- Wait a while for your phone to automatically revert out of rescue mode.
- Hold the power button for 10 seconds until it reboots, then press and hold it for another 10 seconds to undo Rescue Mode.