Where is the December Update for the Pixel 6 Series?

Posted on December 21, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 36 Comments

Two weeks ago, Google announced a massive system update for the Pixel 6 series. But most users still don’t have it. What’s going on?

The original schedule was confusing but clear enough. On December 6, Google announced the December 2021 update for Pixel, which would include three components: the December 2021 Android security update, the first Pixel Feature Drop for the 6 series, and a massive list of Pixel 6 series updates and fixes. This is important because the Pixel 6 is one of the buggiest and more unreliable handsets I’ve ever reviewed, despite some obvious advantages.

The confusing bit was the timing. Though the Pixel 5a and older supported Pixels would get the December 2021 Android security update and the Feature Drop immediately, Pixel 6 and 6 Pro users would need to wait until “later this month.” For some reason.

Later that week, we learned the exact schedule for Pixel 6 and 6 Pro: these handsets would begin getting this massive update on December 13. But it’s December 21 as I write this, over a week after the update supposedly started rolling out to Pixel 6 series users. And despite checking multiple times every single day on the unlocked Pixel 6 Pro I purchased directly from Google, I’ve still never gotten the update. My Pixel 5a, by contrast, also unlocked and purchased from Google, got it the first time I tried.

As it turns out, I’m not alone: it seems that very few Pixel 6 series users have gotten this update. Droid Life openly wondered what was happening at the end of last week, for example. And yesterday, at the one-week mark, 9to5Google did the same. That latter publication also published a poll to find out how many of its readers have received the update. And as of this writing, 87.3 percent—over 8600 people—have NOT received it.

What?

To be clear, this is unusual for Google Pixel handsets, and the situation there is generally not what we see with installs of new Windows versions. And in my own personal experience, having owned almost every single Pixel model ever released, I’ve never had to wait like this. I’ve always received updates right away.

This isn’t about getting something early or first. As noted, the Pixel 6 is a disaster. And users who have been putting up with its many issues need some relief. And that relief is there. They just can’t get it.

One approach would be to sideload the update. There are a few methods for doing so, but one of them resets the phone and forces you to set it up again from scratch. And neither is exactly a normal procedure for average users. But as the days tick on, I’m seriously considering it.

This is just weird. And it’s another mark against Google and the Pixel at a time when I’m evaluating the Apple iPhone 13 Pro. Which, by the way, received its latest software update, for iOS 15.2, on day one.

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Comments (36)

36 responses to “Where is the December Update for the Pixel 6 Series?”

  1. GT Tecolotecreek

    Not hard to figure out.

    They started the roll out, found a critical bug and stopped for the fix.

    End of story.

    • anderb

      Yes. They introduced a bug that broke network connectivity for a lot of users, particularly in Europe.

      • SvenJ

        That's been pretty widely reported. I just got a new Pixel 6 Pro and was worried it would update and break, right out of the box.

    • wright_is

      If that is the case, why no public announcement that it has been pulled and they are working to fix it?

      • 404pagenotfound

        A company that is run by arrogant people will never admit their mistakes. This is why there's a cluster F of operating systems with overlaps (e.g. ChromeOS, Android, Android 12L, Fuschia, Android Automotive, android on ChromeOS, etc).

    • Paul Thurrott

      Google has never said that that's what happened.

      • markbyrn

        I sideloaded the OTA (US Carriers) on my Pixel 6 Pro earlier this morning and all is well so far. Very straightforward with ADB Tools which I periodically use to sideload non-Play store apps due to having Google Advanced Protection. It's the first time I needed to use ADB to sideload OTA images since having the Pixel 3XL.

      • SvenJ

        As a matter of fact they have said that the Dec patch is not what is causing the network issues and they are investigating. You can find that on Android focused sites. No, you probably can't find that on a Google site, but how different is this from MS?

        • darkgrayknight

          MS will have this information buried in a blog somewhere, but it is actually there and available--though it can be difficult to understand exactly. Google is not so open about things going on, but more so than Apple.

  2. fourofeight

    I must be lucky because I've had the update, I've heard about the network bug but the work around was by downloading the BETA of 'Google carrier services' from the play store (I hadn't noticed connection probs however have noticed improved 5g connectivity with the BETA)...


    The only weird thing I've noticed is since the update is when I take a photo with WhatsApp or Signal the image is offset to the left when taken and crops out about 10-15% of the right-hand edge... Other than that no other problems at all 🤷🏼‍♂️ I think it's a really really good device battery is really and the camera in its own mode is awesome 👌🏻

  3. Eman321

    I'm on the Nov update and waiting. I'd rather they get it right so I'll wait. My pixel 6 is great except for the fp scanner (which I hate) and it's not great in the sun. Otherwise I'm happy and patient (just please don't break anything with the update). It's smaller than the pixel 2xl that I had so no complaints (espec. having paid less than $400 US).

  4. TraderGary

    I'm still waiting for the update. I'm on Google Fi. I have no complaints with how my Pixel 6 pro is working. As far as I'm concerned, it's the best phone I've had so far. I'm even quite pleased with the fingerprint sensor. It's working as well as the fingerprint sensor on my 3XL did. I even like it on the front better than I did on the back and I didn't think that would be the case.

  5. peterc

    The Android 12 upgrade/roll out is causing Samsung and Oneplus a lot of problems, as well as Google…

  6. ebockelman

    Google hasn't confirmed it, but several users on Reddit have seen (and I observed on my own Pixel 6 Pro this morning), applying the December update can disable the assistant-based Pixel call screening. This is probably why they paused the rollout.

    • markbyrn

      I read this on the Google Support Forum from Gold Product Expert - 'I have escalated this issue to the Google Phone app engineers. They are aware of this, and will be working on a resolution in a future version of the app. Hopefully it will be fixed in the next one, but we'll see.'

  7. Jonhartman84

    We had a day one patch as well so I don't understand your statement at the bottom?

  8. Popgun

    Nope! The adb sideload does NOT make me reset the phone. It worked perfectly. The phone bus seem to have disappeared. I have the 6pro. However my wife's phone is still shutting off the verizon network. Not good!


  9. winner

    Certainly frustrating, but it's not like other companies (Microsoft cough cough) don't slow rollout, find bugs, and delay them further. Given Google's track record, they seem much more reliable at updates than Microsoft. Being on the cutting edge of Android updates, we ought to expect a few occasional issues.

    You could always use Samsung if you want to wait a long time for updates ;)

  10. briantlewis

    Apple somehow manages to release updates universally at the same time. I can't fathom why Google cannot, especially considering the super small device set and user footprint. This should be table stakes, yet is accepted as normal in android land. Why?

  11. brettscoast

    After reading your post I would have to say that that is a debacle of epic proportions and clearly unacceptable from Pixel. The Pixel 6 Pro is a premium smartphone and these types of issues simply shouldn't exist or if they do should be updated and fixed as a matter of urgency.

  12. bluesman57

    I have not found my Pixel 6 Pro to be unreliable or buggy, except for the fingerprint sensor, and no fingerprint sensors on any phone or device ever work for me.

    The camera isn't much of an upgrade from the 4XL except for the new zoom and wide angle lenses, but I'm assuming that will be addressed with software.

    I'd rather they wait and get the update right, not rush a buggy update out like the game devs do.

  13. Beauvais

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  14. wolters

    My Verizon Pixel 6 is still on October update...

  15. omen_20

    I've not had any issues. I have my doubts the Pixel 6 is a complete disaster.


    It's easily my favorite phone I've had. I just wish it were a bit smaller like the Pixel 5.

  16. maddycom

    Still waiting for pixel 6 updates also, not many days of December left

  17. crunchyfrog

    Something's rotten in Pixelville.

  18. djncanada

    My Pixel 6 pro has Dec 5/21 update, it is a carrier purchased, TELUS in Canada

  19. will

    When they do not trust or have 100% confidence in the update they do a “rolling upgrade” and this sounds very much like Windows and some previous updates they did. So either they found something, or they are not confident in the update.


    While Apple has had bugs in the software with a new release, when they release an update it goes live system wide day one.

  20. theixian

    It's 12/29 and still no update for me. I check every day because the FP sensor is driving me crazy. It is especially bad in cold (minus 0F) temps or in direct sunlight. I have done all of the work-arounds mentioned on different forums but continue to run into the PIN fallback problem several times a day.


    I recently bought last year's OnePlus model (8T) for my mom and I am actually jealous of that phone, it's form factor and how well it's front (under glass) FP reader works.

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