February 2021 updates for Google's Pixels from the 3 series to the 5 are landing today. On top of your regularly scheduled security patches, Pixel owners can also look forward to two other changes: A fix for the Pixel 4a 5G's touchscreen issue (which apparently extends to the Pixel 5 as well), and an undefined "fix for issue preventing certain sensor detection on startup," which could be tied to the long-standing Pixel device sensor issue.
Full functional patch notes are brief:
Google previously confirmed to us that the Pixel 4a 5G's touchscreen issue — which resulted in diminished sensitivity in areas like the bottom of the display — would be fixed with this update, and that seems to have panned out. The issue also apparently affected the Pixel 5 in some capacity, though we didn't hear any reports from device owners. However, it's the sensor issue fix that has caught our eye.
For quite a while, Google's Pixels have had intermittent problems with on-device sensors, though the issue was more widespread in the past, following the Android 10 update. Some speculated at the time that it was tied to a corrupt partition that contained calibration data related to the sensors, and evidence then seemed to confirm it. We aren't entirely sure if more recent reports of problems tied to sensors with the Pixel 5 are directly related to that prior issue or not. Either way, the list of fixed devices in this month's changelog could indicate that the long-standing problem has finally been addressed. We'll reach out to Google and affected customers to confirm and let you know what we find out.
On top of these tweaks, you can expect the usual monthly security patches in this release. This month's bulletins are a little on the lighter end, but there are still plenty of "high" and "critical" vulnerabilities fixed, so do the safe thing and install it once it's available.
There are US carrier-specific releases for the Pixel 5, Pixel 4a 5G, and Pixel 3 series this month, with some minor differences in build numbers, so pay attention if you plan on sideloading early. If not, the update should be landing via the traditional means any minute here for all phones currently getting updates (i.e., The Pixel 5, Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4 series, Pixel 3a series, and Pixel 3 series).