Phone Disaster - #2 - Diagnosis

So, something's gone wrong with your phone.  Could be something harmful, something catastrophic or just something benign.

But what?

In this part of the series we're going to look at how to determine what it is that is wrong with your device.

Most times it's pretty obvious - it's broken, or it's water damaged.

But sometimes it's neither of those and just stopped working.

Physical Damage

If it is dropped, replacing a part is pretty easy (for the most part).  Just look up iFixit and read through how to change out the part.  (I'll give you a couple examples later in the series)

Water Damage

Water damage is a different story.  Water damage usually is pretty visible by the 'litmus papers' contained around the device.  The battery usually has one, and if you take apart the phone there'll be others.  If it's fine, it's white.  If it's wet, it'll have turned pink

Often when we have water damage where I work, the trick is to take out the battery and get it dry fast.  The main problem with water damage is that it doesn't happen right away.  It's almost like a cancer.  It can slowly creep into the board eventually kill something off.

When a device comes in that's water damaged we'll take it apart and just give it a good scrubbing over the mother board.  Just clean up any corrosion that can build up and stop electrons from flowing.  Then it's time for the heat gun.

This is what we use:

The idea here is not to 'dry it out', but actually to heat up the board to a specific level to help some of the solder reflow.

Lots of folks out there have tons of 'suggestions' on what to do when you drop your device in water:

  • Put it in a bag of rice
  • Blow it with a hair dryer
  • Use a wetvac or regular vacuum cleaner to suck out the moisture

Lots of suggestions, depends on who you talk to.  The main thing is to act fast.  I have had lots of folks come in who'll tell me it happened over a week, or month, ago... but worked fine.

Act quick.  Sometimes water will just affect one part... the charger or the headphone jack are the most common culprits.  And those can be changed if it's bad enough.

Some folks have noticed that if it does dry out after a while the part starts to work (+Derek Ross just dropped his Moto X and a day later the headphone jack started to work again, phew).


I could write a book on what goes on here... I've not done my job that long, and I have seen lots of stories and issues already.

The best bet here is for you to Google It... seriously.  Write in your model number and the issue you're having.  Trust me.  You're not that unique that you'd be the only person in the world to have had this issue.

Most commonly I see battery issues.  My general guide is 10% drain per hour.  Any more than that and then I look at the stats.  If there's a lot of screen time, there ya go.  We have an unwritten rule that if Candy Crush is on the phone, we blame that... j/k.  I'll usually install GSAM battery monitor and just see what that tells me.  If it's at fault.  Get a new battery.  Maybe it can be replaced under warranty (more on that later).

As for general "laggyness"... do a quick check of what apps are installed.  I look at the battery stats, they should tell you something about apps that are acting out of turn.  Those 'task killer' apps usually do more harm than not.  Same with antivirus.  I usually turn those off and productivity returns.  Some of the big culprits here are the background sync apps.  Check your accounts and see what's syncing.  For me it's usually the Contacts sync that causes it to hold up a little here and there.

The trick a lot of the time is to try to pin-point if there's a consistency in WHAT happens WHEN.  Like a "if I go into the camera app it slows down".  Chances are that app is having some issues.  Try clearing the cache, clearing data or even uninstalling entirely.

Lots of times ... and I know this is painful ... I suggest wiping everything and then adding things back one app at a time.  Leave some real usage time in between.  Usually it's just one app that causes people grief.  There's some weird apps out there that people trust when they shouldn't.

But really... Google away... or ask us... heck, I'm on +Helpouts if you're really stuck.  But most of us in the Android community are a helpful bunch.