Thursday, December 11, 2014

Samsung Ativ S phone constant reboot loop problem

Problems and Symptoms

So sometime yesterday, one of my Ativ S phones shut off, and started buzzing periodically every few seconds. Interestingly, when attempting a hard reset, the phone would actually make it to the swipe screen, but then reboot after a few seconds.

The reason, I determined, was that the power button was stuck. This makes the phone constantly reboot, and therefore vibrate. Occasionally the splash screen is visible. Attempting to hard reset (volume down+power) or enter download mode (volume up+power+camera) allows the phone to boot temporarily, because it bypasses the normal power button functionality. However, hard resetting won’t work, because one must release the power button to do a hard reset.

As I understand it, this is endemic to Samsung phones generally. They should put some effort into correcting this.

I contacted Microsoft, Samsung, and Rogers (the carrier). None of them were any help. They had no idea what was going on.

(Hacky) Solution

Ultimately, this is a mechanical problem. The switch will feel normal.

There is no need to hard reset the phone. This would be a waste of time.

Rather, the switch needs to be cleaned or replaced. I expect anyone skilled with soldering could replace the switch, so if you cannot clean it, you may need to go this route. Perhaps an electronics repair shop can fix it.

However, I did not need to replace the switch. Here is how I got mine working.

1. Watch these videos. The first explains how to take apart the phone. I only needed to take it apart to get at the underside of the motherboard. You can skip pulling the switch covers out, for example.

This video describes the problem.

(Picture obtained from ebay)

The power switch is the top-left switch in the above image.

2. Once I had the phone apart, I used these two tools. I cleaned out the switch as best I could (without compressed air or rubbing alcohol, bother of which would have been better).


I used the pry tool (on the right) to wiggle the switch in its housing.

Then, I used the plyers to press the switch, and with quite a bit of force. It wasn’t until I applied a lot of force to the switch that it worked. I was able to do this without actually removing the motherboard, which was nice, because it made it easier to test (since I could just put the battery back in).

Comments on the video above indicate that others have had a similar experience.

Anyway, after doing so, my phone starts up, and works fine again. No hard reset. Just some force on the power switch.