The Basics of Troubleshooting Android Phones

We all need to know a little about troubleshooting Android phones. If an engineer/programmer came up with a perfect phone – one that doesn’t break apart or malfunctions – who could put a price on that? It simply doesn’t exist. We and the phones we make are imperfect—subject to the laws of entropy that dictate a gradual decline into disorder.

When a phone develops problems, the first thing we’d normally do is to troubleshoot it ourselves. And we end up scouring the net for solutions to our phone problems. Troubleshooting Android phones is great because most of the time, you won’t spend anything, and you’ll be the only one getting access to your device.

Thankfully, humans are adept at solving problems. There are some common solutions to try in troubleshooting Android phones. This guide will help you discover solutions and implement them as simply as possible.

Disclaimer: This guide is about promoting different fixes for common problems with Android devices, but it cannot guarantee that each type of fix will work with all phones. Look for the problems you have and follow the solutions. It’s best to read carefully and see which ones apply to your device.


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How to improve device connectivity

It’s annoying when you suddenly lose the ability to communicate with Bluetooth, Wi-fi, or any network. And in our connection-driven society, it can cause big problems. Here’s how you can troubleshoot Android phones and fix problems with easy solutions.

  1. Toggle Airplane Mode on and off
  2. Restart network connections
  3. Restart the device
  4. Adjust the settings
  5. Update the device
  6. Come closer to the connection source

1. Toggle Airplane mode on and off

Enable, then disable Airplane mode.

Airplane Mode Reset
Toggle Airplane mode on and off

2. Restart network connections

Set up your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection again.

Reset Wifi
Reset your connection and add it again

3. Restart the device

After restarting the features (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc), restart your device.

Troubleshoot Android Connection problems
Reset your Wi-fi/Bluetooth

4. Adjust settings

LTE/GSM is usually on by default, but turning it off may help boost your signal in some cases.

5. Update the device

Ensure you have the latest update for your phone. This largely depends on your carrier.

Updating Android devices

6. Come closer to the connection source

full wifi signal

If the signal indicator shows a weak connection, it can be because of other items blocking it or because of distance to the signal source. For example, if you are next to a tall building or in a basement, you might need to relocate.

Also, you could be too far away from the service tower. Move your device closer to the router. It’s possible for other devices can also create interference, so move any other appliances away.

How to improve battery life

This is something practically every Android user runs into at least once in a while. Batteries degrade quite fast especially if you have unusual charging patterns. That’s why a discussion on how to save battery life is a must when it comes to the basics of troubleshooting Android phones.

There are many reasons why a battery drain can occur. But it’s essential to detect it in time and figure a way to solve the problem before it is too late.

Must Read: Best Battery Life Android Phones

1. Go to battery settings

Nearly every Android phone has a battery section in settings that will give you a breakdown of what’s consuming the most resources. If there is anything unnecessary consuming your battery, get rid of it.

Troubleshooting battery Android battery drain by checking apps
Find out which app drains your battery

2. Disable unused connections

If you aren’t using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or GPS, turn them off.

3. Adjust settings

You can take individual steps, like lowering the brightness of your display and limiting automatic syncing, or you can rely on Power Saving Mode to do it for you.

Related: How Black Wallpapers Will Save Your Battery Life

Troubleshooting Android devices by improving batery life
Adjust phone usage to save battery

4. Check charging conditions

Does your phone have a broken or bent port? Does the charger fit too loosely? Have you tried a different charger? A different outlet?

A black mobile phone battery charger with black usb cable
Check your charger for defects

5. Use battery-saving apps

Not all apps work against your battery. Some are here to help. For this, I’d recommend the Greenify App, it’s a pretty popular choice and has great reviews.

Greenify logo
App logo
Google Play

How to fix issues with Android apps

Common problems with Android apps include crashing, freezing, or malfunctioning. Some apps can also cause conflict with each other.

try out these fixes for issues with Android apps.

  1. Reboot device
  2. Update the apps
  3. Force stop frozen or laggy apps and restart your phone
  4. Sign out & back in to your Google account
  5. Try Safe mode
  6. Clear app data and/or cache
  7. Check app settings

1. Reboot Device

This advice is used so much it’s the punchline of a joke, but it does work.

Reboot Your Device
Reboot your device

2. Update the apps

Make sure you download the latest version of any app and keep it updated.

3. Force stop frozen or laggy apps and restart your phone

If an app freezes, go to Settings > Apps, select the app, and tap “Force Stop.” Even if it isn’t frozen, “rebooting” your app can be just as useful as rebooting your phone.

Troubleshoot freezing apps by force stopping the app
Force the App to Stop

4. Sign out & back in to your Google account

Logging out and back in can help the app refresh data.

sign out of the account through settings

5. Try Safe mode

To determine which app it could be (or if this is the problem at all), go into Safe mode. Safe mode only uses apps that come with your phone without loading any of the third-party software that could be causing the issue. The method by which you enter Safe mode can vary by device.

If you do not experience the same problem in Safe Mode, you can troubleshoot Android phones by uninstalling any third-party app, one-at-a-time, that you think might be the culprit. If the phone still misbehaves in Safe Mode, your problem could be related to the hardware or a corrupted OS, which can be tougher to fix on your own.


6. Clear app data &/or cache

If the problem seems to be with one application and that application alone, try clearing the cache and app data of that app first. To troubleshoot your Android phone, from apps, go to Settings, then Apps again. From the All tab, select the app. Choose “Clear Data” or “Clear Cache.

7. Check app settings

Make sure that the problem you are experiencing can’t be solved with a simple change in settings. Explore your app settings just be certain and adjust the necessary fixes.

Checking the app sett
Check Setting

How to fix a slow interface and memory problems

Even though memory problems tend to impact older Android more frequently, you could also find yourself dealing with this issue if you are a heavy device user. Or if you simply like to store a lot of media directly on your phone.

If you have a ton of apps or photos, you can run into this on newer phones too. No guide on troubleshooting the basics of Android phones would be complete without addressing slowness or performance issues.

1. Use an external storage

Store your photos on someone else’s server (in the Cloud) or on the SD card if you can. Services like Dropbox or Google Drive can assist. You can automatically backup to Google Photos by going to Settings > Backup & Sync; you can visit Accounts and enable Auto Sync.

2. Delete what you don’t use

Photos and apps occupy most of your phone’s digital space, but consider your music and videos also. As well as other files installed on your device that you don’t need.

3. Backup & restore

There are apps that are made specifically for backing up and restoring files on your device — one of the best is Titanium Backup – Free, but your phone must be rooted.

Titanium Backup Logo
Titanium Backup logo
Google Play

If your phone isn’t rooted, you should try Helium – App Sync and Backup – Free.

Helium App Logo
Helium App Logo
Google Play

If you want to know more about backing up your phone I recommend you read our article Android Backup: Backing up & Sync Your Phone“.

4. Close unused apps

Ensure you are closing your apps when you’re done with them; not just returning to the Home Screen while the app is still open and running in the background.

5. Reduce animation transitions

This fix for Android can make your phone seem faster. Obtain developer status by visiting Settings > About Phone and tap on “Build Number” approximately seven times (or until a prompt showing you can access “Developer Options” appears.) Go back to Settings and a new choice should appear—Developer Options.

Tap it, scroll down, and reduce the Window Transition Animation Scale and Animator Duration to .05x. You can remove the setting altogether, but movement on your phone may not seem to flow as well, and your user experience may suffer.

troubleshooting slow android phones by adjusting transition animation
Modify transitions

6. Soft reset the device

Most of the time a soft reset will cause your phone to snap out of its stupor. It also fixes system errors that you can’t fix by clearing app caches. Long-press the Power key for approximately 10-15 seconds.

Soft reset your android device

7. Clear cache

You can start out by clearing the cache for any individual apps that are giving you problems. Go to your App Manager, select the app, and tap the Clear Cache option. If this doesn’t suffice, you can wipe the entire system’s cache partition.

8. Hard Reset

If that doesn’t cut it, consider performing a hard reset. This wipes data so you might want to backup what you wish to save!

factory reset2
Back-up before Factory Reset

How to improve network signal

If you have trouble texting, calling, or otherwise using your phone for tasks even a dumb phone can handle, look no further. If you need help with a specific phone, check out some of our other articles that specifically cater to a different phone. To troubleshoot network signal on Android phones, check the steps below.

1. Relocate if needed

If you don’t have an adequate signal (2-3 bars), try a different area.

2. Check data plan settings

Certain carrier plans can implement limits or restrictions on who or how much you can text if it was set up that way.

3. Resend, try again, or restart

For a bad connection, try calling the other person back. Send your text again. Or reboot your phone.

Troubleshoot Android phones by restarting your device or feature
Try calling again

4. Check number

Try using the full 11-digit phone number, including the prefix 1 and area code.

5. Turn on Mobile Data

Picture and video files can get quite hefty to send, and often require the use of mobile data.

Enable Mobile Data
Enable Mobile Data

How to fix a phone that won’t power (frozen devices)

A soft reset usually solves a host of issues, but what to do when you can’t even do that? Additionally, removing the battery can be very helpful, but what if you don’t have a removable battery? I’ll take you through some basics of troubleshooting unresponsive Android phones.

1. Access safe mode

To determine which app it could be (or if this is the problem at all), try going into Safe mode. Safe mode only uses those apps that come with your phone without loading any of the third-party software that could be causing the issue.

Again, the method by which you enter Safe mode varies. If you do not experience the same problem in Safe mode, try uninstalling any third-party apps that can potentially cause the errors, one-at-a-time. If the phone still misbehaves in Safe mode, your problem could be related to the hardware or a corrupted OS, which can be tougher to fix on your own.

2. Charge Battery

If you see the empty battery symbol when you try to turn the device on, it’s time for a charge.

Make sure your battery is charged

3. Perform a factory reset

It’s easiest to do this from the Settings menu, but if you can’t access that you will have to use Recovery mode instead. This wipes your phone like it just came out of the box. If you want to know more about factory resetting Android devices, I recommend you read our article: “How to Factory Reset and Start Over”.

factory reset3
Make sure to back-up your data before

4. Restore firmware

This entails connecting your phone to your computer using the proper drivers, going into Download Mode, and flashing the stock firmware for your specific make and model. For Samsung devices, this is best accomplished through Odin. For HTCs, Google your phone + ROM upgrade utility, and for LGs, use LG PC Suite.

Download: Odin

Download: LG PC Suite

How to unlock a locked Android device

If you locked yourself out of your device using the wrong PIN, password, or pattern; Here’s how you can unlock it.

1. Use the “Forgot password” button

Enter the Gmail ID and password for the Gmail account you used to set up your phone. You must have Internet access.

password recovery
After too many attempts, you will be asked if you forgot your password

2. Unlock device using Google Find My Device

This does have to be enabled beforehand. You can gain access to its website by going through your Google Account. You can also use the Google Find My Device app.

Google find my device logo
App Logo
Google Play

3. Factory reset

You’ll need to enter Recovery mode or the bootloader, then choose the option to factory reset your Android.

factory reset
Be sure to back-up your phone before performing a factory reset

4. Use a third-party app to remember your new password

Even if it cannot help you remember your lock screen password, a password manager is quite useful for remembering data for all the other accounts that you have to manage and remember data for. For this, I’d like to recommend RoboForm Password Manager, a free app available on Google Play Store.

RoboForm Logo
App Logo
Google Play

Basic Troubleshooting – Fix Your Device Easily

All problems with Android devices are tiresome. And these are just some of the common ones. We publish basic troubleshooting articles for specific Android makes and models all the time, so you can also do a search or keep an eye for your device.

Also, the solutions described can vary by type of device, so if the details for the method aren’t listed, perform a search on our site. Or if they don’t seem to match your Android, search the method and your make/model and you will probably find instructions on JOA.

Suggested reads:

Ok Google: Features, Uses, Problems and Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting Android Boot Problems

10 Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Problems and Troubleshooting

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my phone malfunction?

Phone malfunctions are caused by system errors (cache errors, app problems), or hardware problems. Taking care of your device will prevent or at least mitigate problems on your phone.

How do I start troubleshooting my Android?

Find the problem. Before anything else, restart your device. See if the problem still remains. Search your problem online and see if other people have encountered the same problem, there will be fixes for almost all system problems and hardware problems so don’t worry.

Help others to help you

Here at JOA, we get a lot of comments like this—” I can’t turn on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or Hotspot. How can I fix it?” Connectivity problems like these are very common. While it’s possible that the solution can vary by year/make/model/version, we can often take the same approach for most Android devices.

Additionally, we can also start out with the most common, simplest, solutions before we must resort to more drastic, challenging measures. If the general basic solution does not work for your device, or you have an unusual problem, there are ways you can frame your questions that will yield better results. This information is helpful if you are posting your question in a forum or the comments section.

Discuss any solutions you have already tried. Include the version of your Android, which can be found through Settings > About Phone or About Device. Android’s make/model name is imperative. If your phone was working fine before, then suddenly it isn’t, something changed. It might not be a change you initiated, but if it was, this is also very helpful information to those trying to help you.

The change might be an action that you think is unrelated, but most problems boil down to two things—an app is misbehaving, or your operating system is. So, if you have downloaded any new apps, or you have updated your OS, it’s worth mentioning. For that matter, any changes to your phone could be relevant. You might think that your brand new case has nothing to do with your display problems, but it’s best to leave every possibility on the table, to begin with.

Do you have basic troubleshooting advice? Send us your thoughts and experiences in the comments down below!

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  1. I brought my Android to a reputable SmartPhone repair shop. I was in a hurry and knew it was the battery. The phone kept rebooting and it was swollen. The “engineer” told me it wasn’t the battery. It could be the motherboard.

    Ok, since the assessment and diagnosis was free I told him to go at it.

    It took 3 days. The result was the battery needed to be replaced.

    Listen to your customers – they know the behavior of their own phone. If I knew he would have took 3 days (thinking he wanted to prove me wrong) I would have just ordered a battery on Amazon!

  2. Hi Team,

    I’m trying to connect to Playstore om Android, but when I try to connect, the connexion page is refreshed.

    Any ideas please on how to solve this.


    1. Hi, can you check if you have the time and date of your device correct? Most of the times, it’s the culprit that causes that issue.

  3. My troubleshooting is my camera brightness is so low on my Android tablet computer. What do I do to try to fixed my camera brightness on my android tablet computer so I can take a pictures of anything or video of anything on my Android tablet computer again?

    1. Hi Linda! Try restarting your phone. If that doesn’t work, clear your messenger’s app cache through your phone’s storage settings.

        1. Hi Cynthia, first things first, restart your device. Did the problem occur recently or did you do anything new to your device? If restarting the device didn’t work, restart your network settings and let us know what happens.

  4. Auto brightness is disabled (greyed out) after I had my J7 pro screen replaced. Does anyone know what’s caused this and how do I re-enable it?

  5. Auto brightness is disabled (greyed out) after I had my screen replaced. Does anyone know what’s caused this and how do I re-enable it?

  6. Random Black screen when using Samsung J3… solution confirmed.

    16 October 2020.

    If one is getting Black Screen, after opening certain apps, and there seems to be no real pattern to these events, as was happening to me with whatsapp, facecrook, youtube etc., it was discovered that due to a recent android os update, the issue is being caused by the ‘Proximity Sensor’ on the J3, and its being covered by my finger or palm, when starting these apps, in landscape, such that the proximity sensor was being triggered. The proximity sensor should only be triggered when you are using the phone at your ear, so that your ear does not trigger events on the phone unintentionally, but in the android update applied on 13th october 2020, a bug in the update has the proximity sensor being turned on for many apps such that the app will appear to open momentarily and then the screen goes black, and even then if you uncover the proximity sensor, the screen will not reactivate. After perhaps 10 hours searching for solution online, this bug was discovered by myself accidentslly. So, just make sure that when opening an app, that the proximity sensor is not covered, and after the app starts, then you may revert to landscape orientation, and the proximity sensor then does not deactivate the screen.

    Shame that users now have to test the software for the impoverished multinational IT companies, but it is not as if users are dependant upon their devices for their employment / bussiness / other critical purposes now is it?

    1. Hi Fekstik! I agree with you. I used to have the same problem with my Huawei device (malfunctioning proximity sensor). The proximity sensor can be disabled through the settings. It’s also actually baffling how little support old Android devices have in terms of the new firmware updates released by these multinational IT companies. In which bugs are solved by living with it until the next update.

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