Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cellphone will not turn on; battery unexpectedly dead

Android Cellphone won't turn on and the battery is unexpectedly dead.

  • Cellphone will not boot or turn on
  • The phone was warm or hot to the touch all day
  • Battery appears dead even though it may have been fully charged the night before
  • Hard booting the phone fails
  • After charging the phone for a few minutes, it will then turn on
  • Once charged, it behaves normally, with no battery issues

Likely problem:

A program or background task is running amok and is in a loop.  The CPU / Processor is running at full-speed, consuming all power.  The phone will feel warm or hot to the touch while this is happening, even if the screen is turned off and the phone is not in use.

Workaround Solution:

Restart the phone (press and hold the power-button and select Restart). 
If the battery is too dead to boot, charge the phone for a few minutes before attempting to power-on. Once powered on, note the battery level.

Restarting the phone kills the errant task.

Root Cause:

Locating the failed application will be difficult unless caught in the act.  Likely, this is not a predictable or re-producible event and your phone may be dead before you realize what happened.

In my case, I suspect the phone's built-in Camera app was the problem.  I had accidentally launched the camera earlier in the day and then turned off the screen and set the phone down without actually closing the program.  The phone was not used for the rest of the day, but I noted it was warmer than usual.  By the end of the afternoon, the phone was completely dead and would not power back on.  After a short charge, it recovered.  By this time, the Camera app was closed.  This problem was not reproducible.

Surfing the web for this problem shows all kinds of suspected applications can cause this problem, indicating it is not an application problem (e.g., not really the camera-app, etc.).  Instead, it is probably an OS task-scheduling issue and it can manifest itself in a variety of apps.

Other comments:

Do not bother using Advanced Task Manager or other such apps because with all reasonably-new Android operating systems, these programs cannot actually kill the task.  However, there is a paid application "Watchdog Task Manager" by Zomut, LLC, which shows which processes are hogging the system and it might be of interest, however, I suspect monitoring with Watchdog will not provide much useful information.

Your comments on this issue are welcome.

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