So, you picked up your phone, about to check the notifications and boom—it’s dead.
Like all technology, smartphones can just break on us (some even think it’s deliberate, but there are several steps to take to find out whether you can get it working again or if it requires an expert or even a replacement.
Note: This guide mostly applies to Android devices, but has some common sense that applies to all smartphones.
Let’s get started…
1) Is It Charged?
The remaining charge icon on your phone can be little inaccurate sometimes, so if you had 20% left and all of a sudden the phone goes dead, the first step is to plug it in and see what happens. Sometimes it might even take a few minutes to register that it’s charging, especially if you there was some kind of memory leak or a buggy app zapped all of its power.
Give it a good 10 minutes before deciding that it’s actually dead.
It’s also worth trying multiple power outlets and checking the charger—it itself could be dead.
Even if you finally get it charged, a phone that loses charge quickly or in odd circumstances could be on the verge of needing a battery replacement.
2) Check Nothing is Loose
Most smartphones are fairly robust these days and don’t allow for much tinkering once you’ve taken the back off, but if yours does allow you to get inside, be sure to check whether the battery is loose or the sim and SD card aren’t out of place.
3) Check the Battery
A common but often overlooked reason for your phone to die is a bloated or leaking battery. It can be hard to check, if your battery is secured behind screws or a panel, but can also be dangerous if gone unchecked.
If the battery looks warped, has expanded, or is literally leaking a dark fluid—it’s time to get a new one and dispose of the old one safely.
Of course, the battery could also be dead without displaying any obvious physical signs. If you swap it with a friend’s or take it to a repair shop, this can be easily identified.
Tip: If you do need to go to a repair store or even replace the phone entirely, you might not have the cash up front. Emergency loans that you can get online are one option to get some quick funds.
4) Did the Screen Die?
Sometimes your phone isn’t dead, it’s the screen. You will know if this is the case by pressing the power off button and then turning it back on. If you get the usual boot sounds and vibrations, the screen could be physically dead or suffering from a display driver problem.
If this sounds like your problem, it’s best to take it to the repair shop. With any luck, it’s something software based and you won’t need to replace the screen itself.
Sometimes the operating system itself freezes, causing a blank or frozen screen. It cannot be powered down the normal way and needs the ‘long press’ ‘hard reset’ to give it a full reboot. You will need to hold the button for at least 10 seconds.
5) Factory Reset
If before the phone died you noticed it being buggy with random crashes and lag, or the phone boots but crashes or freezes a few seconds later, it might be time for a factory reset.
To do this you need to power it down and then boot it back up by holding several buttons in combination. The exact combination will depend on your device, so do a Google search with your device name and ‘recovery mode buttons.’
For example, the Samsung Galaxy S6 phone needs you to press Volume Up + Home + Power to boot in recovery mode.
Once there you need to hit the factory reset option.
WARNING: If you can, you should backup your data first, because a lot of it will be wiped by this process. You should be able to do this by connecting your device by USB to your computer.
6) Clear Cache
One softer solution to the so-called ‘black screen of death’ is to clear your phone’s cache while in recovery mode. This will fix some problems, but if not, you should go with the full factory reset.
7) Are You Entitled to a Replacement?
You might not have to fret too much if your smartphone dies and you can’t fix it. If you are in a contract your provider may replace it free of charge. Give them a call to see if this applies to you. In some instances, they may also have their own repair policy and will fix the device for you.
You may also be covered if you took out phone insurance.
It can certainly be frustrating if your phone suddenly dies, but by following the above tips you could be in a better situation than you realized.