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How to not brick your phone?


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17 replies to this topic

#1 kas21

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 04:01 PM

The impossible question--how do you avoid bricking your phone?  I have always wanted to play and start to learn more about how Android works, how ROMs work, and even building/tweaking kernels, however, I always shy away because I have but one phone and can’t really afford to brick it.  Now, I understand that if you are going to play around you are always running the risk of bricking your phone, but there has to be some good best practices to follow or “gotchas” that you can avoid.  That is what I would like to discuss in this thread.

What are common causes of bricks?
When building a ROM or kernel, what can you (try to) do to ensure that you can always get back to good?
Specifically on a SGS, what situations would result in a bricked phone?  (I.E., I remember reading somewhere that you cannot even get into Recovery if you don’t have a bootable kernel on the device)

I have always wondered how you go from AOSP + hacking to bootable/runnable ROM on a device such as the Vibrant without bricking many, many phones.  There has to be a ton of trial and error involved to get from A to B, and unless I am exaggerating the chance of bricking, many of those failures could result in a bricked phone.  That seems very unsustainable!

I realize this might be too broad and varying to really answer, but I wanted to ask anyway and hope that we can all learn something new!.  Thanks all!

#2 Mr_Tricorder

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 11:10 PM

I would say about 99% of bricking issues can be prevented by following some common-sense guidelines.  Here are my personal guidelines.

1. Read feedback before flashing custom firmware.
Sometimes people release buggy or dangerous mods that can potentially cause bricks even if you follow all the instructions properly.  Unless you're a very enthusiastic tester who likes to live on the edge and is willing to pay the price (I'm looking at you, ViralBlack), then be cautious and do your research before flashing everything.  Learn from other people's mistakes and don't be an example yourself.

2. READ INSTRUCTIONS!
This is by far the number one culprit for bricked devices.  People want to jump right in and don't take their time and read carefully, which leads to mis-read instructions or skipped steps.  I have to admit I've been guilty of this before and thankfully I have never bricked a device because of it, but I have had to wipe clean and start from scratch a few times.  The only reason why this isn't number 1 on my list is because you should have already done your research on what mod(s) you're using before you get to this point.

3. Make sure you have enough juice to get you through the process.
Never, ever, ever start flashing mods when your battery is low, even if your device is plugged in.  I highly recommend keeping your device plugged in for as much of the process as possible, but in some cases (as Nilay Patel found out the hard way), "plugged in" doesn't always mean "charging".  Flashing a new kernel with a dying battery is the perfect recipe for a really expensive paperweight.

4. Be patient.
Some of these mods take a long time to apply, both while flashing and when restarting afterwards.  As a general rule, if you're stuck on a boot screen for over twenty minutes, then something might be wrong and you ought to look into it.  Don't just pull the battery right away though.  That can cause more problems than it's likely to solve.  Leave the phone running while you search for answers.  It might just work itself out while you're looking for help.

While we're on the subject of looking for help, be sure you SEARCH for answers instead of just asking for help right away.  There's a very good chance that someone else had the exact same problem you're having and had discussed it before in the forums somewhere.  We as a community are here to help, but we're not here to hold your hand through the process and spoonfeed you step by step, and I've seen my fair share of people who demand spoonfeeding here in the past (which is why I don't use the shoutbox anymore).

As far as "getting back to good", always, always, ALWAYS make a NAND backup with ROM Manager before flashing ANYTHING.  I really can't stress that enough.  Also, it's a good idea to keep a flashable copy of the stock ROM handy in case things really go bad.  I'm sure ViralBlack has a few other suggestions too since he has far more experience with "getting back to good" (and not always succeeding) than I do.

#3 Viralblack

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 11:15 PM

 Mr_Tricorder, on 28 September 2010 - 11:10 PM, said:

I'm sure ViralBlack has a few other suggestions too since he has far more experience with "getting back to good" (and not always succeeding) than I do.

*facedesk* Alright, so one thing can easily be attributed to the failure of the devices aforementioned. Patience.

I have very little when it comes to electronics, and am very prone to "oooh shiny" which makes me do a lot of research very quickly, but not always with the right result.

Take your time, its not a race, read the directions, talk to people about it. If Im venturing into the unknown I use a 24hr policy now (and a backup replacement phone) just in case something goes the way I dont want it to.

Wait 24hrs and research what youre thinking of doing, take your time, dont do things that look stupid. Tricorder hit the nail on the head.

#4 Sneekalong

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 07:54 PM

Ok, I normally am a reader instead of a poster. However I think Ill give my 2 cents as I just got back from Tmobile today as they are sending me a replacement vibrant. I just bricked mine. OK... Stop.. I know what you are going to say.... I just didnt know how to get out of a soft brick. Yes It was bricked. I was stuck on a screen that had a phone, Yellow triangle with an exclamation and a pc screen. Ill try and attach a jpg if I can get someone to take a picture of it. Ill try and post something on the [HOWTO] The Overpowered Vibrant v1.5 by viralblack about what happened on my brick if you want to try to avoid what I did.

Be patient, careful and read everything before you do it. Ask questions if you are not sure about something (something im not good at, but will try and get better about it).

Ok, 3 cents worth

~Sneek

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#5 Sirfearoth

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 08:15 PM

In all its not hard to do with galaxy s especially after trying some of my own failed creations.... thankfully we have odin 9 bricks and just glad none of them hard bricks

#6 dasunsrule32

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 08:38 PM

 Sneekalong, on 01 October 2010 - 07:54 PM, said:

Ok, I normally am a reader instead of a poster. However I think Ill give my 2 cents as I just got back from Tmobile today as they are sending me a replacement vibrant. I just bricked mine. OK... Stop.. I know what you are going to say.... I just didnt know how to get out of a soft brick. Yes It was bricked. I was stuck on a screen that had a phone, Yellow triangle with an exclamation and a pc screen. Ill try and attach a jpg if I can get someone to take a picture of it. Ill try and post something on the [HOWTO] The Overpowered Vibrant v1.5 by viralblack about what happened on my brick if you want to try to avoid what I did.

Be patient, careful and read everything before you do it. Ask questions if you are not sure about something (something im not good at, but will try and get better about it).

Ok, 3 cents worth

~Sneek

Very recoverable, read here.

As far as the main user avoiding bricks with the Galaxy S line, always disable a lag fix, that is probably one of the top reasons why. As others have said, be sure to check others comments with a particular mod, rom, or kernel install/patch. Best rule of thumb, always backup, that way you have something to come back to. I have to say, even with a Nandroid restore, it doesn't always work, like the baseband, etc. I have had it cause grief that way. I had a stock rooted backup and restored back to it, wouldn't work, the kernel didn't like the baseband that was installed and kept panicking. So there is no real 100% way to avoid it, with these phones or any phone for that matter. It just seems that this line of phones is more susceptible to "bricks".

#7 Krylon360

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 08:40 PM

 Sneekalong, on 01 October 2010 - 07:54 PM, said:

Ok, I normally am a reader instead of a poster. However I think Ill give my 2 cents as I just got back from Tmobile today as they are sending me a replacement vibrant. I just bricked mine. OK... Stop.. I know what you are going to say.... I just didnt know how to get out of a soft brick. Yes It was bricked. I was stuck on a screen that had a phone, Yellow triangle with an exclamation and a pc screen. Ill try and attach a jpg if I can get someone to take a picture of it. Ill try and post something on the [HOWTO] The Overpowered Vibrant v1.5 by viralblack about what happened on my brick if you want to try to avoid what I did.

Be patient, careful and read everything before you do it. Ask questions if you are not sure about something (something im not good at, but will try and get better about it).

Ok, 3 cents worth

~Sneek

is your's HW locked? if not, then you can get out of that screen.
Hold VOL_DOWN+VOL_UP+Power,
screen will flash black, keep holding all 3 buttons,
you'll see that screen again, dont let go of those 3 buttons,
screen will flash black again
let go of power

If your phone is not hardware locked, it'll put you in DL mode.

unfortunately, VB and me know what a TRUE hard bricked phone looks like.
Mine doesn't even turn on anymore. LOL

#8 Viralblack

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 08:48 PM

 Krylon360, on 01 October 2010 - 08:40 PM, said:

is your's HW locked? if not, then you can get out of that screen.
Hold VOL_DOWN+VOL_UP+Power,
screen will flash black, keep holding all 3 buttons,
you'll see that screen again, dont let go of those 3 buttons,
screen will flash black again
let go of power

If your phone is not hardware locked, it'll put you in DL mode.

unfortunately, VB and me know what a TRUE hard bricked phone looks like.
Mine doesn't even turn on anymore. LOL


lol, High five!



#9 Marne

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 12:21 PM

Doorstops ftw. $400 chew toy for the dog or a parts mule :)

#10 cdill3000

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 02:00 PM

Quote



If your phone is not hardware locked, it'll put you in DL mode.


So if your fone IS HW locked then........... no dice i guess....'tis the case with mine....i have tried EVERYTHING..the 3 button method doesn't wrk foe me only abd or clockwrk would get me into recovery and DL mode....now anything i do i only get the phone---/!\---computer graphic :( guessing i now have a paper weight.....
Posted Image

Edited by cdill3000, 10 October 2010 - 02:03 PM.


#11 zuggy

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 08:30 PM

I had a similar graphic when I accidentally flashed the i9000 voodoo rom on my vibrant but adb was still able to to see it and boot into download mode and use odin to reflash the correct ROM

EDIT: the graphic wasn't exactly the same and the i9000 may be close enough hardware wise that it still worked.

Edited by zuggy, 10 October 2010 - 08:32 PM.


#12 Verysafety

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 02:29 AM

I had that screen before. I flashed over it. Don't remember what I did, but I had no problem getting out of it

#13 Marne

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 03:45 AM

i say keep trying to odin that hooker. i had the same thing going on. ADB into it and try rebooting it into download mode. i dont think its a total brick. there is still hope young padawan :)

#14 Generic San

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 03:52 PM

My nice new SGS has the 3Button trick blocked.  The PBL is e-fused, as is the case with all later releases. This is intentional on Samsungs part.  

I wonder if they will try and remove the adb reboot recovery option from the SDK during the 2.2 Froyo roll-outs. Then no-one will be able to root their 'phones.  Nasty surprises like these is a main reason I shall wait until the CM for SGS is well and truley stable,  As for the stock 2.2 release in the EU,  I may even skip 2.2 and use Voodoo on 2.1 because I have little faith in Samsung getting it right.  Then later onto a CM installation, when CM is stable for SGS.    

Edited by Generic San, 12 October 2010 - 03:54 PM.


#15 Sneekalong

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 06:19 PM

I feel your pain cdill3000. Mine too, as shown above had the same screen. I tried everything as well and no go. ADB didnt see the phone, Odin didnt see the phone. My phone was HW locked. So for my issue....Bricked.... If the phone was unlocked then I would have probably had a different outcome.

Well I have my new phone now but waiting for 2.2 before I install anymore Roms. My rule of thumb now if a ROM requires Odin to recover then Ill pass on that Rom.

Edited by Sneekalong, 13 October 2010 - 06:21 PM.


#16 TJHart85

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 05:52 PM

 Generic San, on 12 October 2010 - 03:52 PM, said:

My nice new SGS has the 3Button trick blocked.  The PBL is e-fused, as is the case with all later releases. This is intentional on Samsungs part.  
Very untrue.  People with the same manufacture date on their phones have differing results.  This is a defect, not intentional.  If you tell tmobile that you can't access recovery, they'll take the phone back as a defect.

This has also been FIXED by Samsung themselves in JI4 & they have made an official update for the Bell Vibrant (I believe....its on XDA either way).  The link has the proper files that you can Odin & replace & you'll now have a hardware unlocked phone.

 Generic San, on 12 October 2010 - 03:52 PM, said:

I wonder if they will try and remove the adb reboot recovery option from the SDK during the 2.2 Froyo roll-outs. Then no-one will be able to root their 'phones.  Nasty surprises like these is a main reason I shall wait until the CM for SGS is well and truley stable,  As for the stock 2.2 release in the EU,  I may even skip 2.2 and use Voodoo on 2.1 because I have little faith in Samsung getting it right.  Then later onto a CM installation, when CM is stable for SGS.    
Reiterating what I said above, since they've fixed this issue for other phones, it's a defect, not an intentional block.

#17 avgjoegeek

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 07:01 PM

I thought I had fubard my phone (Captivate) after it screwed up installing a mod - Would boot to a black screen. To make it worse is I didn't disable the Voodoo lagfix when I attempted to Odin 1-click it. It would go through the process (I was able to get it into Download mode at first) but it didn't format the internal SDCard and I thought I was fux0red.

Anyways during this process of restoring my phone.... it wouldn't go into Download mode and I had the exact same screen as you.  "phone+++|+++computer"

My buddy did the following as I was about to toss the phone through the wall:

  • Pulled battery, Sim, and External SDCard
  • Held down the VOLUME button and inserted the USB Cable.
  • Jammed the battery back in right after he did this (takes some finesse to get the timing down)
  • And *poof* the phone was back in Download mode and the phone was restored to stock using Odin.

Although this was my Captivate - I'm pretty sure the same process should work for your phone. Either way - phone shouldn't be bricked - it's just needs a little tomfoolery to get it back up.

#18 TJHart85

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 03:56 AM

 avgjoegeek, on 14 October 2010 - 07:01 PM, said:

I thought I had fubard my phone (Captivate) after it screwed up installing a mod - Would boot to a black screen. To make it worse is I didn't disable the Voodoo lagfix when I attempted to Odin 1-click it. It would go through the process (I was able to get it into Download mode at first) but it didn't format the internal SDCard and I thought I was fux0red.

Anyways during this process of restoring my phone.... it wouldn't go into Download mode and I had the exact same screen as you.  "phone+++|+++computer"

My buddy did the following as I was about to toss the phone through the wall:

  • Pulled battery, Sim, and External SDCard
  • Held down the VOLUME button and inserted the USB Cable.
  • Jammed the battery back in right after he did this (takes some finesse to get the timing down)
  • And *poof* the phone was back in Download mode and the phone was restored to stock using Odin.

Although this was my Captivate - I'm pretty sure the same process should work for your phone. Either way - phone shouldn't be bricked - it's just needs a little tomfoolery to get it back up.
I get into download mode the same way (mostly).  It's significantly easier than trying to get the buttons to time just right and then plug in the USB.

You don't really have to be careful with the timing, just pull battery (no need to pull anything else).  Plug in the USB, hold down the volume buttons and put the battery back in.  Let go of the volume buttons when you're in download mode.  

The phone is damn near unbrickable as long as you aren't hardware keys locked (and as I said, for the Vibrant at least, there is a fix for it if you are).