Possible causes of my phone getting bricked

  • #1

Summary:

My brand new phone got bricked. Could it be one of these things that I did?
My phone (Samsung, running Android Go) got bricked a day or two after purchase. The first sign of trouble was that the display wouldn't wake up from standby. I had to remove the battery and replace it in order to get it going again. When I did that, it got stuck displaying the logo and wouldn't continue starting.

I removed the battery once more and replaced it, and it restarted properly, only to hang up after a few minutes of use.

At this point, I decided to remove a micro SD card that I had installed previously (well before the problem started). Removing and replacing the battery got it working again for a while, but it ended up bricked shortly afterwards.

I tested the Micro SD card, which had seen several years of use in another device -- and I found that the card would no longer work.

I took the phone to the service center, and they have repaired it, so I'll be collecting it later today. I'd like to avoid doing anything that could have triggered the problem.

What could have gone wrong, apart from a random glitch? Which of the following is most likely?

[1] The memory card was marginally failing, and it triggered a glitch that corrupted the firmware

[2] Removing the battery when the phone froze on the logo, caused a firmware corruption

[3] A third party app that I had installed from play store, was not compatible with Android Go


Regarding [2], what does one do to recover safely from a freeze-on-logo condition?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Sounds like possible hardware failure. If you didn't buy it second hand then it i woudl return it for a refund or replacement. If you purchased it secondhand then this is not an option. There is a chance that it is a software issue in which case it is possibel to re-install the versin of Android on the device. Your are fortunate that Samsungs are very popular and there is a lot of software available for re-installing Android. The phone will need to be booted into debug mode and connected to a PC via a USB cable. I would do a web search for instructions on how to perform this procedure.
 
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  • #3
Thanks.
I have just got it back from the service center, and they say they replaced the main PCB (under warranty, so free).

Now I am working up the courage to do the setup steps that I did before, including putting in a micro SD card (brand new) and installing some 3rd party software. I will proceed step by step with lots of testing in between.

Most likely, it was either a random failure in the hardware or a failure triggered by the rather old, about-to-fail SD card that I put in earlier. Or even electrostatic damage when I put in the card. I'll be more careful this time.
 
  • #4
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No courage needed, you can't have broken it yourself, just do your thing :)
 
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  • #5
anorlunda
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Some "find my phone" apps have the feature to brick your phone remotely if lost or stolen. If you bought it used, that is a possibility.
 
  • #6
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I am not much used to Android Go editions, but here are my thoughts.
When I did that, it got stuck displaying the logo and wouldn't continue starting.
That's what we call a "bootloop". The device tries to load its build files, encounters an error and starts over again in an infinite loop.
[1] The memory card was marginally failing, and it triggered a glitch that corrupted the firmware

[2] Removing the battery when the phone froze on the logo, caused a firmware corruption

[3] A third party app that I had installed from play store, was not compatible with Android Go
I believe each of these is equally unlikely. In order to brick a phone, you need to make changes in the build files. To do this, you need to root your phone, and any app that wants to play with the build files needs root permission. This is akin to sudo on Linux. Android, when shipped, is not rooted, so third-party apps cannot corrupt the files located in root folder. Neither a failing memory card nor removing the battery can, in general, brick the firmware. If the memory card fails, apps accessing it will crash but your firmware will remain unaffected.

It seems that most Android phones start misbehaving after a certain period even when handled with utmost care. My Samsung Galaxy On7, running Android Marshmallow, faced a similar condition three times till date. Even if I did the slightest work, like opening a document, it would reboot. First time, the problem was solved by simply doing a factory reset, but next time, I had to change the motherboard (PCB). At that time, I had no idea about flashing ROMs. Third time, I just flashed the stock ROM and the phone is fine till now. No idea why this happens. My mother's phone has started misbehaving recently and I believe sooner or later it will face the same fate as my phone.

Given the short time within which your phone failed, it is possible that it had a manufacturing defect — somehow the firmware was not loaded correctly. In general, it is very difficult to find the exact cause of these problems.
Regarding [2], what does one do to recover safely from a freeze-on-logo condition?
Go into recovery mode and try to do a factory reset. If that doesn't work, you will have to flash the stock ROM using Odin, given you can find the ROM for your phone online.
Some "find my phone" apps have the feature to brick your phone remotely if lost or stolen. If you bought it used, that is a possibility.
Not possible. Such apps require device administrator privileges, which allows them to trigger a factory reset at most; they still do not have root access and hence cannot brick the phone.
 
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  • #7
anorlunda
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Not possible. Such apps require device administrator privileges, which allows them to trigger a factory reset at most; they still do not have root access and hence cannot brick the phone.
I'm not really an expert, but it is not an app. It is the Google Android Device Manager site https://www.google.com/android/find. On the site, it does not say brick, but it does say erase everything.

All data will be permanently erased from this device.
 
  • #8
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I'm not really an expert, but it is not an app. It is the Google Android Device Manager site https://www.google.com/android/find. On the site, it does not say brick, but it does say erase everything.
That's factory reset. It will erase all user-installed apps, all updates installed to system apps, and all user files. It will not touch the firmware under any circumstances as that requires superuser access.

To be more specific, a factory reset can touch only the /data partition. For a detailed explanation on android file hierarchy, refer to this answer on Android StackExchange.
 
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