The Pixel and Pixel XL both have a stock Recovery Mode that is easily accessible as long as you follow the these steps detailed below.
There are a number of features baked into stock recovery for most Android smartphones and tablets. It doesn’t come with as many features as we see included in custom recoveries, but I’ll discuss those at a later time. For now, I just want to talk about what you can do with the stock Android recovery on the Pixel and Pixel XL, and then walk you through the step by step process for how to boot into the special mode.
The stock Android recovery has a number of features like including a way to factory reset the device. This is ideal if you are unable to boot into the regular Android OS and perform the action via the Settings. You can also manually apply a downloaded OTA update via the emulated SD card, or from ADB. There’s a way to wipe the cache partition, and then there are some other actions like mounting the /system partition, viewing recovery logs and performing a graphics test.
I will detail a few of these tasks in future articles here on Android Explained, but for now, let me just show you how to boot into the Pixel Recovery Mode (which also works on the Pixel XL).
Pixel Recovery Mode
- Boot the Pixel into Fastboot Mode
- Press the Volume Down button twice
- Press the Power button to select the ‘Recovery’ option
- Wait until you see the Recovery Mode splash screen (with the robot on its back)
- Then press and hold the Power button
- 1 second after holding the Power button down, press the Volume Up button
- Let go of the Power and Volume Up buttons once you see the Android recovery menu
Note – You will not see the Recovery Mode splash screen if you have a custom recovery installed.
As mentioned, I will go into detail about the various actions that can be taken from the stock Android recovery mode in future articles. Since the goal of this tutorial is to get you boot into the Pixel Recovery Mode, I’d like to focus on just that. So to start, you’ll need to boot the Pixel or Pixel XL into Recovery Mode. If you’re not familiar with how this is done, then you should click/tap the link in step 1 as I walk you through the entire process.
From here, you will want to tap on the Volume Down button twice. This should highlight the Recovery option in the box toward the top right of the screen. Once you see this option highlighted, go ahead and press the Power button to select it. You’ll notice the Pixel or Pixel XL reboot and then you’ll be taken to a splash screen specifically for the stock Android recovery mode. As noted, if you have a custom recovery installed then you will not see this splash screen.
Once you see the little Android figure on its back (as pictured in the image above), then you’ll want to press and hold the Power button. If you end up holding the Power button down for too long (5+ seconds), then you’ll see the Pixel or Pixel XL reboot so this is something you want to avoid. Instead, be prepared to press the Volume Up button 1 second after you start to hold down the Power button.
Once you press the Volume Up button, you’ll see the Android figure disappear and you’ll be taken to the standard Pixel Recovery Mode menu. As soon as you see the menu appear, you can go ahead and let go of both the Power and Volume Up buttons. Again, be sure that you don’t hold the Power button down for too long because this can cause the Pixel and Pixel XL to reboot and then you’ll have to go through this all over again.
Just like in Fastboot Mode, you’ll need to navigate through this menu with the physical buttons. Use the Volume Up and Volume Down buttons to control which option is highlighted, and then press the Power button to select that option. As demonstrated in the video above, you can easily boot back into the regular Android operating system by selecting the Reboot System Now option.
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