You can fix your “bricked” Android phones yourself. Playing around with our Android devices is what we like to do. Testing new ROMs, kernels, tweaking IMEI, or other tweaks just to get the most out of it which is, at least in my opinion, part of the whole Android experience. But sometimes things go wrong and what would you do?. First of all: Don’t panic! In contrast to iOS, Android is a rather open operating system which makes fixing a bricked device sometimes really easy. This article will guide you on how to fix a bricked Android phone.
First things first, we need to understand what the term bricked Android phone really means because a phone stuck in a boot loop is not bricked, nor is a phone that boots straight into recovery mode. These are things you can usually fix, and they’re a lot more common than a truly bricked phone.
A bricked phone means that your phone won’t turn on in any way, shape or form, and the truth is, there’s nothing you can do to fix it. It is, for all intents and purposes, as useful as a brick. You may want to use it as a decoration then. (But, hold! There might be a solution to it – at the end of this article.)
You can revive your device as long as it is only soft-bricked! But beware, depending on your device it can be quite tricky to fix a soft-brick. A rule of thumb is that every device with an unlockable bootloader and accessible stock files (aka Nexus, Tecno, Infinix, Gionee, etc devices). But don’t you worry: This process will hopefully help you with your problems.
Difference between a hard and a soft-brick
Before we get started, it is important we know also, the difference between a soft-bricked and a hard-bricked device. A (hard-) bricked device can be easily identified based on the following points:
- It does not turn on anymore AND
- Your computer / Mac does not recognise it anymore
In contrast, a soft-bricked device is only half-way dead. In most cases something went wrong while flashing something like a custom ROM, camera mod or app in your custom recovery mode. Because of this, your device is not booting anymore (popularly called boot-loop) or is constantly crashing. The basic solution to this problem is flashing a clean & working version of Android to your device. There are different ways for doing this, but most of the time you’ll restore a backup, flash a custom ROM or stock images to your device.[irp]
Quick fix: Use a toolkit for your device
XDA-Forums has many of such tools and make sure you check if there is a toolkit available for your device which might make the recovering process a lot more easier. Toolkits will install the correct drivers, download the right files and guide you through the process of getting your phone or tablet back running.
- Nexus 5 – Windows
- Samsung Galaxy S6 – Windows
- Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – Windows
- MTK devices (Tecno, Infinix, etc) – MTK Droid tools
If you rather want to do everything by hand, make sure that the latest ADB and fastboot drivers are installed on your computer. There are two ways to do this:
Write down the location of the drivers (or copy them to a easily accessible folder) – you’ll need them later! Also enable USB debugging, you can follow our instructions here.
Android device stuck on Boot loop
If you’re able to turn on your phone or tablet, but it keeps rebooting itself over and over again, it simply mean that the device is stuck in the so-called “boot loop”. This happens if you flashed (installed) something that does not work with your device. This is typically a ROM or Kernel problem, or a combination of both. What happens in this case, is that your device is trying to load something which overloads the system memory, resulting in the device crashing. it’s probably because you forgot to wipe your data and/or cache during the flashing process. It’s trying to boot into the ROM, but some leftover data from your last ROM is causing it to error out.[irp]
If your phone is spiraling on boot loop, the quick fix should be to wipe its data and cache, which you can do from recovery mode. This method assumes you’re using an MTK device or a ClockworkMod Recovery, like the majority of Android users, but if your particular phone uses a different third-party recovery (like AmonRA), you should still be able to find these options in the interface. They might just be in a different place. To wipe your data and cache:
- Power down your phone. Turn it back on and boot into Recovery mode. Usually it involves holding down another button, like Volume Down, as you turn your phone on. DroidViews created a nice list with the right combinations for the most popular devices.
- Use your volume keys to navigate the menus, and your power button to select menu items. Scroll down to Advanced, and choose “Wipe Dalvik Cache”. When that’s finished, go back to the main screen and choose “Wipe Cache Partition”. Lastly, head to “Wipe Data/Factory Reset”. This will delete all your settings and apps, but you should still be using the correct ROM.
- Reboot your phone.
With any luck, it should boot right into your ROM. If that didn’t work, try the below method with the same ROM (or with a different ROM) and see if you get different results.
Your Phone Boots Straight Into Recovery? Flash a New ROM
If, when you boot up your phone, it goes straight into Recovery Mode, then there’s likely an issue with the ROM you flashed. Note that some ROMs boot into recovery mode automatically after flashing, so reboot your phone once from recovery mode to make sure you’re having a problem.
In this case, first check if you have a Nandroid backup. Check to see whether you can choose “Recovery” from the list before continuing to the next step. Simply restore your backup. Your device should be working now again.
If you don’t have a Nandroid backup, check if you still have a (former) working custom ROM zip-file on your device or meet a friend who has a working phone of the same type. Here is what to do:
- Boot the good phone into recovery mode (hold volume up + power button while the phone is off)
- Go to Backup and restore.
- Select Backup then yes to confirm.
- After Backup is complete, copy the backup file / folder from the SD card of the good phone to the SD card of the bricked phone (maintain the file path).
- Boot the bricked phone into recovery mode.
- Go to backup and restore.
- Select Restore.
- Select the backup you just copied and click yes to confirm.
Perhaps, you may want to try an entirely different ROM. The best way to do this is to download a ROM from somewhere on the net and putting it on your SD card. Here is a collections of Tecno Android ROM for download.
You’ll need to take the SD card out of your phone, and you’ll need an SD card reader that you can plug into your computer. Here’s how it works:
- Plug the SD card into your computer. Drag the ROM’s ZIP file to your SD card, and wait for it to copy.
- When it’s done copying, eject the SD card and put it back in your phone. Reboot into Recovery mode. This is a bit different for every phone, so you’ll have to Google how to do it for your specific model. Usually it involves holding down another button, like Volume Down, as you turn your phone on. HTC phones will have to then select “Recovery” from a menu, while other phones will boot directly into ClockworkMod. You’ll know you’re in ClockworkMod by the words “ClockworkMod Recovery” at the top of the screen.
- Use your volume keys to navigate the menus, and your power button to select menu items. Scroll down to “Install ZIP From SD Card” and navigate to the ZIP file you just copied over. Give it time to flash the ROM.
- When it’s done, reboot your phone.
Hopefully, your phone should successfully boot into the new ROM. From there, you can probably assume that the previous ROM that messed up your phone isn’t going to work, and you’ll have to find another ROM for now—or find another copy of that ROM that isn’t corrupted. Remember to make backups of your working ROMs so you don’t lose all your data!
Your Phone Boots Straight Into its Bootloader? Restore From a Stock ROM
If the above steps didn’t work as expected, one of the most surefire ways to get your phone working again is to restore from the stock ROM: that is the original, unrooted, stable goodness ROM your phone came with. Each manufacturer and phone has a different method for doing this, and we will do our best to steer you in the right direction.
Note that this will unroot your phone, and return it to exactly how it was when you bought it from the store. You’ll lose all your apps, settings, ClockworkMod recovery, you’ll get over-the-air updates again, and you’ll even have to re-activate your phone if you’re on a CDMA provider like Visafone, Verizon or Sprint.
MTK phones (Tecno, Infinix, Gionee, etc)
- Download PdaNet or get it an extensive guide here.
- Download MTK Droid tools
- Get the the boot.img for your phone type from someone who has the same phone as your bricked one (via MTK tools backup) or download boot.img file for your Tecno phone.
- Put on the bricked phone then connect it to your PC (don’t mind that its stuck at the Tecno logo)
- While the phone is connected, install PdaNet on your PC.
- Still with the phone connected, launch MTK Droid tools and extract its contents (take note of where they are being extracted to)
- Open the MTK Droid tools folder and launch MTK Droid tools (green logo)
- MTK Droid tools should display your phone’s details and the box at the bottom should be yellow.
- Click root at the bottom, select Yes to any prompt and wait till the box turns green.
- When the box turns green, click on the root, backup, recovery tab.
- Click to choose boot.img file.
- Click Recovery and Boot then navigate to the boot.img from (3) and select it.
- Click yes to every prompt.
- When asked, click yes to boot into recovery mode.
- You should now have Clockworkmod recovery installed from which you can do a restore, wipe cache partition, wipe dalvik cache, reset to factory state or flash a new stock or custom ROM.
If you have a Motorola phone, you’ll need to use RSD Lite, the program that Motorola and its partnered carriers use to restore soft-bricked phones. RSD Lite isn’t exactly an official program open to the public, so you’ll have to Google around to find a version that works for you. You’ll also need an SBF file for your device, which is the original stock ROM that RSD Lite will flash to your phone. Google for this as well. RSD Lite only runs on Windows, so if you’re a Mac or Linux user, you’ll need a Windows partition or a friend with a Windows machine to help you out.
HTC phones can flash stock ROMs, known as RUUs, right from the phone’s bootloader. You’ll need to Google around for your device’s specific RUU file, but once you download it, save the ZIP file to your SD card, and rename it (to something like PG05IMG.zip—the download page for the RUU file should specify which filename is required), booting up your phone should automatically flash the stock ROM from HBOOT, HTC’s bootloader. Check out the video at the left to see an example of this on the HTC Thunderbolt.
If you’re using a Samsung Galaxy phone, you can use a tool called Odin to reflash an OPS file, which is a stock ROM that will return your phone to factory settings. You’ll need a Windows machine and a copy of Odin, which you can find by Googling around the net (as its not an official tool). You may need to Google around for your specific device’s OPS file and instructions as well. Lifehacker made a good video as an example of Odin, and check out The Unlockr’s guide to using Odin to familiarize yourself.
Custom Recovery is gone
Sometimes flashing a ROM can overwrite your custom recovery. There are two ways to get it back.
1. You have root access
- Install ROM Manager and use it to flash ClockworkMod Recovery
- Or, install the TWRP app and use it to flash Team Win Recovery Project.
Personally, I would recommend to use TWRP. After doing this, your custom recovery should be working again!
You don’t have root access
- Download the TWRP or CWMR image for your device and save it into the same directory as the ADB / fastboot drivers
- Boot into the bootloader. Key-combinations can be found here.
- Open the Windows command or Mac terminal and navigate to the direction where the ADB / fastboot drivers are located
- Execute the following command: fastboot flash recovery (with being the name of the recovery image you downloaded earlier)
Custom recovery should be working again![irp]
You don’t have root access anymore?
If your root stops working, there are two ways to get it back:
1. You still have access to a custom recovery
- Download SuperSU and install the zip file in custom recovery
2. You don’t have access to a custom recovery
- Download SuperSU
- Follow these practical steps
- Save the file on your devices’ storage
- Install the zip file in custom recovery
How to get files to or from a device if you can’t boot to Android
If your Android device does not boot anymore it can be tricky to get files to your device (to install a backup) or from your device (to backup personal files on your computer). Luckily, TWRP and CWMR include ADB drivers.
- Open the Windows command or Mac terminal and navigate to the direction where the ADB / fastboot drivers are located
- Use the following command to push files to your device:
ADB push filename(or folder) directory on your device
- Example: ADB push /backup/ /sdcard/ – This will transfer the complete folder backup from your computer to the SD card on your device
- Use the following command to get files from your device:
ADB get filename(or folder) directory on your computer
- Example: ADB get /downloads/ /backup – This will transfer the complete folder “downloads” from your device to the /backup/ folder on your computer
The files should now be on your computer or internal storage.[irp]
If all failed, Take It Into the Store and Play Dumb
If your phone is actually bricked—that is, it won’t turn on at all, no matter how hard you try—it’s time to give up and move on. The first thing you can do in this situation is try to take it back to where you bought it from – if it is still pretty new – or to your carrier’s store and play dumb—just say something like “I don’t know what happened, but my phone won’t turn on anymore” (don’t tell them you rooted it, obviously). Most carriers don’t have time to deal with such issues and they’ll just give you a new phone. Sure, it’s a tad evil, but it should work most of the time.
If they’re wise to your act, though, you can try another store or just sell your bricked phone for a few bucks at computer village in Lagos, on Craigslist or any other phone butcher house. Sadly, if no one will replace your phone, you’ll have to buy an entirely new one. Such are the dangers of rooting, but don’t be discouraged! Bricking your phone is pretty rare, so I wouldn’t worry about it being a common occurrence. As always, though, when you void your warranty, only do so if you’re ready to replace that device completely, since you never know what can happen.