The Basics of Troubleshooting Android Phones

pug android

If any engineer/programmer came up with a perfect phone, who could put a price on that? It’s somewhat like finding the fountain of youth, or anything perfect in this world. It simply doesn’t exist. We and the phones we make are imperfect—subject to the laws of entropy that dictate a gradual decline into disorder.

Thankfully, we humans can problem solve. But not all problems are intuitive. There are some common solutions to try, however, and certain information that you can collect that will greatly assist you in finding the answers. This is a guide to help you discover solutions and implement them as simply as possible.

Help Others Help You

Here at JOA we get a lot of comments like this—” I can’t turn on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or Hotspot. How can I fix it?” Connectivity problems like these are very common. While it’s possible that the solution can vary by year/make/model/version, we can often take the same approach for most Androids.

Additionally, we can also start out with the most common, simple solutions before we must resort to more drastic, challenging measures. If the general basic solution does not work for your device, or you have an unusual problem, there are ways you can frame your questions that will yield better results. This information is helpful if you are posting your question in a forum or the comments section.

Discuss any solutions you have already tried. Include the version of your Android, which can be found through Settings > About Phone or About Device. The Android’s make/model name is imperative. If your phone was working fine before, and suddenly it’s not, something changed. It might not be a change you initiated, but if it was, this is also very helpful information to those trying to help you.

The change might be an action that you think is unrelated, but most problems boil down to two things—an app is misbehaving, or your operating system is. So, if you have downloaded any new apps, or you have updated your OS, it’s worth mentioning.


For that matter, any changes to your phone could be relevant. You might think that your brand new case has nothing to do with your display problems, but it’s best to leave every possibility on the table, to begin with.

android malware


Common Fixes for Common Problems

Problem 1: Connectivity

It gets lonely when your phone is out on an island by itself, unable to communicate with Bluetooth, Wi-fi, or any network. And in our connection-driven society, it can cause big problems. Here are some basic fixes.

Solutions:

Toggle Airplane Mode

Enable, then disable Airplane Mode.

airplane mode

Add Connection Again

Set up your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection again.

wifi

Restart Feature or Device

Turn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or Data off and back on again. Doing the same with your device can work wonders.

bluetooth menu

Scrutinize Settings

LTE/GSM is usually on by default, but turning it off may help boost your signal in some cases.

Update

Ensure you have the latest update for your phone. This largely depends on your carrier.

apply update

Come Closer

If the signal indicator affirms a weak connection, it could be due to other items blocking it or to distance. For example, if you are next to a tall building or in a basement, you might need to relocate.

Also, you could be too far away from the service tower. Move your Motorola Maxx closer to the router. It’s possible for other devices can also create interference, so move any other appliances away.

wifi signal


2. Battery Drain

This is something practically every Android user runs into at least once in a while. Hopefully, you are somewhere you can load up on more juice, but this problem doesn’t only occur when it would be most convenient. That’s why a discussion on how to save battery life is a must when it comes to the basics of troubleshooting Android phones.

Solutions:

Go to the Source

Nearly every Android has a Battery section in Settings that will give you a breakdown of what is consuming the most resources. If there is anything unnecessary consuming your battery, get rid of it.

battery screen

Disable Connections

If you aren’t using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or GPS, turn them off.

Change Settings

You can take individual steps, like lowering the brightness of your display and limiting automatic syncing, or you can rely on Battery or Power Saving Mode to do it for you.

battery saver

Check Charging Conditions

Does your phone have a broken or bent port? Does the charger fit too loosely? Have you tried a different charger? A different outlet?

motorola charger

Enlist Battery Saving Apps

Not all apps work against your battery. Some are here to help. Greenify is a popular option.

Download: Greenify


3. App Issues

Common problems with Android apps include crashing, freezing, or malfunctioning. Apps can also cause conflicts with each other.

Solutions:

Reboot Device

This advice is used so much it’s, the punchline of a joke, but it does work.

reboot

Update

Make sure you download the latest version of any app and keep it updated.

Use Force Stop & Restart

If your app is frozen, go to Settings > Apps, select the app, and tap Force Stop. Even if it isn’t frozen, “rebooting” your app can be just as useful as rebooting your phone.

force stop

Sign Out & Back In

Logging out and back in can help the app refresh data.

sign out

Narrow it Down

To determine which app it could be (or if this is the problem at all) try going into Safe Mode. Safe Mode only uses those apps that come with your phone without loading any of the third-party software that could be causing the issue. The method by which you enter, Safe Mode can vary by device.

If you do not experience the same problem in Safe Mode, try uninstalling any third-party app, one-at-a-time, that you think might be the culprit. If the phone still misbehaves in Safe Mode, your problem could be related to the hardware or a corrupted OS, which can be tougher to fix on your own.

safe mode

Clear App Data &/or Cache

If the problem seems to be with one application and that application alone, try clearing the cache and app data of that app first. From Apps, go to Settings, then Apps again. From the All tab, select the app. Choose Clear Data or Clear Cache.

cache

Check App Settings

Make sure that the problem you are experiencing can’t be solved with a simple change in settings. Explore your app’s settings just be certain.

apex settings


4. Slow Interface/Memory Problems

Even though memory problems tend to impact older Android more frequently, you could also find yourself dealing with this issue if you are a heavy user or simply like to store a lot of media directly on your phone.

If you have a ton of apps or photos, you can run into this on newer phones too. No guide on troubleshooting the basics of Android phones would be complete without addressing slowness or performance issues.

Solutions:

Outsource Your Storage

Store your photos on someone else’s server (in the Cloud) or on the SD card if you can. Services like Dropbox or Google Drive can assist. You can automatically backup to Google Photos by going to Settings > Backup & Sync; you can visit Accounts and enable Auto Sync.

auto sync

Delete What You Don’t Use

Not only do photos and apps occupy digital space, but consider your music and videos also.

Backup & Restore

There are apps that will help you—one of the best is Titanium Backup, but your phone must be rooted. If your phone is not rooted, try Helium.

Download: Titanium Backup

Download: Helium – App Sync and Backup

backup restore

Close Apps

Ensure you are closing your apps when you are done with them; not just returning to the Home Screen while the app is still open and running in the background.

Reduce Animation Transitions

This won’t help your memory, but it can make your phone seem faster. Obtain developer status by visiting Settings > About Phone and tap on Build Number approximately seven times. Go back to Settings and a new choice should appear—Developer Options.

Tap on it, scroll down and reduce the Window Transition Animation Scale and Animator Duration to .05x. You can remove the settings altogether, but movement on your phone may not seem to flow as well, and your user experience may suffer.

transition animation

Soft Reset

Most of the time a soft reset will cause your phone to snap out of its stupor. Long-press the Power key for approximately 10-15 seconds.

power off

Clear Cache

You can start out by clearing the cache for any individual apps that are giving you problems. Go to your App Manager, select the app, and tap the Clear Cache option. If this doesn’t suffice, you can wipe the entire system’s cache partition.

Hard Reset

If that doesn’t cut it, consider performing a hard reset. This wipes data so you might want to backup what you wish to save!

factory reset2


5. Failure to Communicate

If you have trouble texting, calling, or otherwise using your phone for tasks even a dumb phone can handle, look no further. If you need help with a specific phone, check out some of our other articles.

Solutions:

Relocate if Needed

If you don’t have an adequate signal (2-3 bars), try a different area.

Check Data Plan Settings

Certain carrier plans can implement limits or restrictions on who or how much you can text if it was set up that way.

Resend, Try Again, or Restart

For a bad connection, try calling the other person back. Send your text again. Or reboot your phone.

phone number

Check Number

Try using the full 11-digit phone number, including the prefix 1 and area code.

Clean Your Speaker

Use compressed air to remove anything from the speaker that doesn’t belong.

Turn on Mobile Data

Picture and video files can get quite hefty to send, and often require the use of mobile data.

mobile data


6. Won’t Power On/Frozen

A soft reset usually solves a host of issues, but what to do when you can’t even do that? Additionally, removing the battery can be very helpful, but what if you don’t have a removable battery? We will take you through some basics of troubleshooting unresponsive Android phones.

Solutions:

Try Safe Mode

To determine which app, it could be (or if this is the problem at all) try going into Safe Mode. Safe Mode only uses those apps that come with your phone without loading any of the third-party software that could be causing the issue.

The method by which you enter, Safe Mode can vary by device. If you do not experience the same problem in Safe Mode, try uninstalling any third-party app, one-at-a-time, that you think might be the culprit. If the phone still misbehaves in Safe Mode, your problem could be related to the hardware or a corrupted OS, which can be tougher to fix on your own.

Charge Battery

If you see the empty battery symbol when you try to turn the device on, it’s time for a charge.

full-battery

Perform a Factory Reset

It’s easiest to do this from the Settings menu, but if you can’t access that you will have to use Recovery Mode instead. This wipes your phone like it just came out of the box.

factory reset3

Restore Firmware

This entails connecting your phone to your computer using the proper drivers, going into Download Mode, and flashing the stock firmware for your specific make and model. For Samsungs, this is best accomplished through Odin. For HTCs, Google your phone + ROM upgrade utility, and for LGs, use LG PC Suite.

Download: Odin

Download: LG PC Suite


7. Forgotten Passwords, PINs, and Patterns

Someone may try to unlock your phone too many times using the wrong PIN, password, or pattern, and sometimes that someone is you. Here’s how you can still unlock it.

Solutions:

Use Forgot Password Button

Enter the Gmail ID and password for the Gmail account you used to set up your phone. You must have Internet access.

password recovery

Unlock Using Android Device Manager

This does have to be enabled beforehand. You can gain access to its website by going through your Google Account. You can also use the Android Device Manager app.

Download: Android Device Manager

Use an App

Some apps allow you to bypass the lock screen, but they do tend to cost money, and there are no guarantees. Hopefully, you would never do this on someone else’s phone because that would be wrong.

Download: Lockscreen Bypass

Factory Reset

You’ll need to enter Recovery Mode or the bootloader, then choose the option to factory reset your Android.

factory reset


Conclusion

All problems with Android devices are tiresome. And these are just some of the common ones. But we publish basic troubleshooting articles for specific Android makes and models all the time, so you can also do a search or keep an eye for your device.

Also, the solutions described can vary by type of device, so if the details for the method aren’t listed, perform a search on our site. Or if they don’t seem to match your Android, search the method and your make/model and you will probably find instructions on JOA.

Do you have basic troubleshooting advice? Send us your thoughts.

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