How to Save a Bricked Android Smartphone

Android phones are lot of fun, they let us install custom ROMs, kernels and do all sorts of cool stuff to them. But there are times when the phone just can’t take it and it breaks. When an Android smartphone becomes bricked, it means that it encountered an error and it cannot boot any more, but do not fear, you can still save a bricked Android smartphone! We’ll show you how.

What is a “bricked Android”?

Many do not fully understand what is a bricked phone. Let me explain, there are two types of bricked phones: soft brick and hard brick. These are totally different and at least for one of them, you can still hope to save your smartphone.

Soft brick: the soft brick is when a software error has occurred and your phone is either in a boot loop (it cannot boot the ROM, instead it reboots) or it boots only in bootloader. Also, in some rare cases, the phone does not power up. I myself experienced a soft brick when my phone entered only in bootloader and it froze in recovery, but I was able to save it. If you have this sort of a problem, then you might save your bricked Android smartphone with some luck.

Hard brick: your phone is completely unresponsive and the problem is caused by a hardware malfunction. If this is the case for you, then your phone has become a very expensive brick (hence the name) or a very cool paperweight. There is not much you can do in this case (or, at least to my knowledge).

You should go to your dealer (if you still have warranty) and hope that they will change your phone. Better play dumb in this case and do not say you have rooted your Android smartphone, because the root process voids your warranty. Although the true bricking (hard brick) makes your phone useless, keep in mind that this rarely happens.

Before we begin, know that you will need to have installed the Android SDK and drivers on your computer, because in some cases you will need to use the adb shell, Also, you might need the Odin Flasher to reflash a new ROM to your smartphone. We provided the download links in the How to Root a ICS Smartphone article.

How to save a bricked Android smartphone

How to Save a Bricked Android Smartphone (1)

If you were flashing ROMs and Kernels and your phone happened to get soft bricked, then there are a few ways to save it. It depends on how your phone reacts and of course, on what Android smartphone you have. I’ll start with some general fixes that should work on most smartphones. Depending on what problem you encounter, check the methods below:

If your phone is in a boot loop (keeps rebooting when trying to boot the ROM)

Usually, this type of error occurs after installing a new ROM on top of an existing one, without first deleting the old files. If you have this problem, you can try formating the Cache Partition, Dalvik Cache and User Data. All of these can be done within the Recovery Mode (this only works on a rooted Android phone with ClockworkMod Recovery or other custom recovery). After wiping all of the data from your previous ROM, reboot your phone and it should boot the new ROM. If the problem still persists, delete all the cache files and the user data and do a new flash of your desired ROM.

If your phone boots straight into Recovery Mode or Bootloader

How to Save a Bricked Android Smartphone (2)

If this is the case, then a clean install of a new ROM will get rid of this problem. Mount your SD card either from the Recovery Mode (Mounts and Storage-> Mount SD Card) or remove your SD card from your smartphone and plug into a card reader, and you can copy the new ROM on your card and flash it from the phone’s recovery (Install ZIP from SD card -> Choose ZIP from SD card -> Install -> Yes ).

If the problems persist, then unroot your smartphone and install the stock ROM (the one that phone came with). To find the stock ROM, do a Google search of your model. After downloading the stock ROM, flash it using the known method. Each phone manufacturer has different ways to reverting back to the original ROM, but for most of the devices running Android, Odin will work pretty good.

If you still encounter errors or cannot complete the processes above, try formatting your SD card to a FAT32 partition using a card reader (only if you have a removable SD card) then repeat the process.

If your phone does not start at all

If your phone is soft bricked to the degree that it won’t even start, so you cannot go into “Downloading Mode” and run Odin, there is a way to do this. However, to my knowledge, it works only on Samsung devices, so do a little digging before you try it. You will need a micro USB cable (the one that you connect your phone to your computer) that you don’t use any more. This is because you will have to cut the microUSB jig (the end that goes in your phone) and peel the plastic away until you get to the actual connectors. Notice that it has 5 pins, you will only need the last two pins (pin 4 and 5).

Next, you will need to buy 3 resistors of 100k Ohm each and solder them in series (you should have ~300k Ohm resistance, keep in mind that it won’t work if you have a resistance under 300k Ohm). Now, isolate the resistors very good, because if you touch them, their resistance will change, and the then take two remaining ends (a positive and a negative) and touch them to the two pin connectors from the microUSB port. Keep them together for about 4-5 seconds and your phone should go into Downloading Mode. From here, you can use Odin to flash your Recovery Image and ROM.

Here is a video explaining the entire process:

A new way to save bricked Android smartphones

A new software has appeared that can unbrick your soft bricked phone with only one click. It might work for your phone, but if you have tried to unbrick it with the methods above and still no success, I don’t think it would do you any good. But nevertheless, do not stop trying. The program is called OneClick UnBrick, brought to us by XDA Developers member AdamOutler.

The app is cross platform and it should get rid of a soft brick with only 1 click. Give it a try and tell us how it works! Also, for users of adb shell, a new app has arrived that can help you use adb much more simpler. It’s called QtADB and it is free to download from their website.

If everyting else fails

If every other method fails, before you toss your Android phone out the window, try asking for some help on XDA Developers. Their forum has lots of useful information and their experts can point you in the right direction.

This is how to save a bricked Android smartphone. If you have a problem with your phone, try the methods above to see if you can save it! If neither of the above methods work, then you might have a hard bricked phone on your hands. If this is the case, go talk to your dealer and see if they want to change it. Remember not to admit rooting the phone!

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I often wonder, where is technology heading? What do all of these advances mean for us and for our future? I sometimes miss the days when I didn’t know how to use a floppy disk, or how a computer CPU works, but now, until I find an answer to my questions, I’ll keep tracking these advances and show everything I find to those who share my interests.

 
 
  • http://www.maindevice.com Radu Tyrsina

    Just the right guide if my Captivate gets bricked!

  • Karthik Urs

    In case of a soft brick, if the primary boot loader gets messed up, you can’t recover it this way. Because the device wouldn’t even show up as a COM port device. You might have to then reload the primary partition which not many softwares available can do. (Am not sure if there is even a software to do that which is publicly available)

    • Nedelcu Ionut

      While the phone is in download mode, it will show as a COM port device. Also, it depends of the type of soft brick your phone is in.

  • http://meetshriram.blogspot.com/ Sriram

    Well explained.

  • Vaibhav Chawla

    I Have A i9100 In India Which After Successfully Flashing A AOKP ROM Was Rendered USELESS CAN You PLease Help Me Out The Procedure To UNBRICK

    PS:-
    NO SIGNS OF LIFE
    NO RESPONSE TO CHARGER WHEN PLUGGED IN!
    ODIN DOESNT DETECT IT
    WHAT IS JTAG !!

    • Nedelcu Ionut

      Try buying or making a USB jig. This could get your phone in Download mode and Odin will pick it up as a COM port. Please contact me for more help if you need anything.

      • Vaibhav Chawla

        Thanks Alot For Reverting With A Blazing Speed .. I paid A Visit To The Authorized Service Centre They Say That The Phone Is In NO POWER STATE << NOw What Is This ?? And I Am yet To Try The JIG .Glad To Be Reverted!

        • Nedelcu Ionut

          As a last resort, try doing a soft reset followed by a hard reset:

          1. Take the battery
          2. With the battery out, hold down the Power button (more than 10 seconds)

          Now insert the battery and try to turn it on. If this does not work:

          1. Do steps 1&2 as above
          2. Insert the battery, but DO NOT turn the phone on
          3. Press and hold the Power and Home buttons together at once for about 10 seconds (or more).

          This wipes the phone of all battery settings and temp memory of the phone. Also, when you insert the battery, it has to have some charge in it, so charge it in a battery dock or in another phone.

          If this does not work, try the USB jig. If both fain, I’m afraid you might have to return it to warranty because of a fault in the mobo.

          Also, I have done a little digging on your problem. I fond 2 other solutions. I did not test them so they might not work, but here they are:

          Method 1:

          1. Charge the phone for about 10 minutes.
          2. Press Volume Up once.
          3. Press Volume Down once.
          4. Press and hold the Power button and it might start.

          Method 2:

          1. Take out the battery
          2. Leave it out for about 30 minutes and then inserted back in
          3. Press and hold the Down Volume and the Power button together for a few seconds, then press only once the Volume Up key (just like you would in download mode). This might power up your phone and do a factory reset on it.

          Also, I recommend searching for some adb methods to reset your phone, maybe there are some that will work if you get it in download mode.

          • Vaibhav Chawla

            Tried JIG But NO RESPONSE !!!
            Guess I’m Screwed!
            The Service Center Guy Says That There Is No Power Supply In The Board It Self ! (i.e. The Battery Ain’t Charging When Plugged To Charger)
            And Thus There Is No Power In The Board Itself … And 100% Sure There Is NO LIQUID DAMAGE!

          • Nedelcu Ionut

            I am sorry to hear this. Best of luck with the next one.

      • BedBoy Gashi

        hi i need some help i cant get in recovery mode i dont know why i think i have bricked my phone

        • sahil

          Friend I have the same problem do u have any answers for it

  • Mothaluva

    Oneclick Unbrick worked for me!

  • Damien

    captivate i am stuck on at&t world phone or battery screen with no battery icon only the circle thing…. cant get into recovery nor download mode bought a jig and it still doesnt work…any advice?

  • abdulhakim kobati

    i flashed my zte n855d with wrong rom and it dosn’t work or charger or even show up as port with usb on computer what can i do

  • André Barbosa

    Are you sure this works on every devices? I Have an S3 Mini and it bricked, stuck in the samsung logo and wont go to recovery or download mode… i leaved it pluged during the night and in the next day it was like that… gonna try the usb thing cause it’s rooted and i really don’t know if they will accept warranty.

    • Evoium

      are you sure you loaded recovery onto it first? i have seen many people use odin and flash straight the new rom without CWM or other recovery image

  • Talha Mianoor

    i too have a s3 mini..i installed a custom rom once it worked..then i tried another one it asked to restart i pressed ok and from that point the phone didnt boot at all..i tried the usb jig method..i even checked it on note2 and s4 its working but not on the s3 mini…i even sent it for JTAG service and the guy was like the phone isnt even connecting to it ..i heard there is this new thing to put the system file on the sd card and then boot..anyone know about that stuff..?

    • evoium

      i personally havent gotten the jig tool to work on any of my 4 Samsungs when soft or hard bricked but what i normally do is i use the recovery buttons for the devices and i get into the down load from there to flash the stock stuff and then add all the cwm and custom roms