Tuesday

Android Black Screen Fixed

Most current operating systems have some indication when things go badly wrong; the "Blue Screen of Death" with many versions of Windows, a "Kernel Panic" in Linux and so on. Some piece of software or hardware has gone awry and the OS stops.

Until recently, I was blissfully unaware that Android has a "Black Screen of Death" - probably not an official term, but that's what it effectively was for me.

Brief background: my two year old, cheap-and-cheerful Android phone had been working fine until I filled up the storage one day by inadvertently recording a 30 minute video while the phone was in my pocket. Yeah, yeah, I know.



I noticed the phone had slowed to a crawl, determined the problem and deleted the video. However I realized a few days later that the phone was still not *quite* right; there was an occasional stutter where the phone had always operated smoothly before.

I checked the storage - yes, plenty available (now). I also uninstalled a few apps I was not using and restarted the phone (a soft reboot, powered off and back on). The stuttering was still there, but I figured my phone was older and "oh well".

Then I started getting black screens. Not often, but enough to cause concern, maybe 3 or 4 times a week. I would be closing an app or switching between apps and the screen would go black and the phone would be unresponsive (even if I waited several minutes). Restarting was the only fix at that point.

Hmm. Stuttering and black screens.

First, I tried a hard shutdown/restart. On Android devices, you can do this one of a couple of ways. If you have a removable battery, you can pull the battery, leave it out for 30 seconds or so, reconnect it and start up your device again.

If the battery is not removable, you can hold the "down volume" and the power buttons together until the device shuts down. It should restart and present you with a text menu, similar to that below. I selected "reboot system", and this performed an effective hard reboot.


In my case, that did not solve the problem, the black screens still happened.

The next step was to go through the same process, but this time select the "wipe cache partition". That fixed it for me. After three days use, no more stuttering or black screens - and a sigh of relief from me, as I had not budgeted on replacing my phone at this time.

If that had not worked, my next step would have been to repeat the process, but select the "wipe data/factory reset". As the name suggests, that wipes (erases) your data from the phone, so you need to be sure you are ready to try that (back up data, deactivate and remove Google Authenticator or other apps of that kind).

If that was still not successful, I would have had to replace the phone. My fear was that the black screen would one day NOT be cleared by restarting the phone, and I would be stuck.

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