My Phone is Dead :(

It is with some sadness that I announce the death of my phone. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus I had bought in July last year lasted just to the post warranty period. Not that it would have counted (I bought the phone in the US), but still. This is the forth phone I had in my life, Nokia 2112, some LG crap phone and the beloved Nokia E71 ♥.

Issue: For the first time, I charged my phone via the USB charger using my laptop. I left it that way and dozed off. Next morning, my phone wouldn’t get network coverage. I later tried changing SIM and other battery of tests. I had never ventured into the Android developer forums in the past, it’s a really exciting and informative place to be. I figured out that my phone no longer had an IMEI number and its baseband was ‘unknown’.

Based on suggestions from the mobile computing group @IIITD, I tried rooting my phone to see if it’s a software glitch. Luckily, Nexus i9250GT as its known, is a very popular phone and there was plenty of literature on everything. I used the Nexus Root Toolkit, a really cool one-stop tool to interface with the phone. I unlocked and backdated the OS to a custom ROM for Android 4.1. I flashed the stock version of the radio with a custom one, where you could manually set the baseband. There is very limited choice in India anyway so there was no point.

Next I find out that the important information such as IMEI etc are stored in a protected directory called /efs, which may be corrupt. I was not really convinced with this as /efs also stores the MAC id for wireless network, which is still working absolutely fine. But since I had not physically damaged my phone in any way (no short circuits, hardly ever dropped it) so I was also reluctant to believe there is something physically wrong with the radio chip. So I went ahead and followed some really old set of instructions on how to clear the efs folder. I used superuser to change access permissions to /efs, copied it on the SD card memory and deleted the original. When you restart the phone, it creates a new /efs folder with dummy information in it. I then replaced the internal files from the backup. But this still didn’t work and my phone still didn’t have an IMEI number. Next, i found this tool that had an option to fix the /efs folder and manually write in an IMEI number of my choice. My plan was to write the same number I got from a box. Sadly though the tool seems outdated and doesn’t connect to the phone via USB.

Finally, I took the phone to Samsung service center. They told me it would have anywhere between a few days to 2 months for an initial diagnosis. I relented cause I had no choice, they did reply but they would like to change the entire circuit board. That is ridiculous cause those boards are designed to work for years unless there is some physical damage. So I am pretty sure its some silly software glitch that they wouldn’t admit to. Even before you get to express the problem, they make you feel like a sinner for bringing in a device that is no longer in the warranty period. I was not even given a thorough diagnosis, which parts are faulted and why. Just a single line, “change the entire chipset and charging port”. That is the entire working half of the phone!

Well, I really am in a pickle, i guess Samsung phone are only good while the warranty lasts. Since the MAC id is still available, I can use the phone like a tablet, i guess. Meanwhile, I got a Nokia N79 that was lying around. Did you know its screen rotates from landscape to portrait based on the phone’s orientation?!



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