Due to a security flaw, the Pixel 6 series cannot return to Android 12 after updating to Android 13 {U}.

Today, Google released Android 13 for Pixel devices, and the update is currently going out to devices. Although there is no option to revert to Android 12, for owners of the Pixel 6 series, Android 13 is practically a permanent upgrade.

Android upgrades are typically reversible, allowing you to manually sideload the update and install an earlier version. This always necessitates a phone reset and data loss, but it is a process that is doable.

However, Android 13 prevents the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, and Pixel 6a from rolling back to Android 12 releases. After installing the new version, users won’t be able to switch back to Android 12 as Google highlighted on the site , where it hosts Factory Images.

Attention: The bootloader update in the Android 13 update for the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, and the Pixel 6a increases the anti-rollback version. You won’t be able to flash earlier Android 12 builds on these devices after flashing an Android 13 build.

Google is taking an uncommon action here, but the change is necessary due to a fresh bootloader upgrade that raises the anti-rollback version. This security feature was added by Google to Android for several years now to typically stop the implementation of previous software version exploits on devices.

Google has verified the cause of the Pixel 6, Pro, and Pixel 6a’s inability to return to Android 12. Google notes that the bootloader version previously utilized, as well as first spotted by security researcher @flawedworld, both contained a security vulnerability (and highlighted by Mishaal Rahman).

Google’s advisory states:

WARNING You cannot revert to an earlier Android build if this is FLASHED.

The bootloader on your device is functioning in a vulnerable state. Your device’s anti-rollback counter will be increased after flashing this build to stop future flashes of outdated, vulnerable bootloaders on the device. This will stop Android 12 releases from being flashed.

Most users won’t typically have a problem with this, but it’s still fascinating. It seems plausible to presume that this may have something to do with Google Tensor given the devices it impacts. In any event, please be aware that updating a Pixel 6 series gadget to Android 13 is essentially irreversible.

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