6 Steps to Diagnose an Android Phone that Won’t Start

dying android phone

Considering how interconnected life has become thanks to social media apps on your smartphone, even a couple of hours without a working phone can make you panic about the important messages and notifications you might be missing out on.

The following shows the steps to diagnose your seemingly dead Android phone to see if you can fix it on your own or if you should seek professional help (for your phone, not your panic attacks, although, hey, that is also a valid option).

1. Charge Your Phone

This might sound obvious, but it is a surprisingly common occurrence to have your phone’s battery run out without your knowledge and get worried when the device shuts down. Plug your phone into a charger for a couple of minutes and check to see if the battery icon is glowing red, indicating a depleted battery.

Android Battery Charging

Additionally, check your charger’s indicator light to make sure it is working. You may think you have charged your battery fully. but your charger might not have been working properly.

2. Signs of Damage

Sloppy handling of a phone can naturally cause problems with its functioning. Try to recall if your phone had recently been involved in a potentially harmful incident, like getting wet or getting dropped on a hard surface.

Smartphone Damage

Check your phone closely for signs of damage, such as cracks along the glass screen or bumps and bruises over the rest of its plastic body. If you detect any dents, they might be the reason behind your phone shutting down. Usually when it is an external problem such as this, the phone signals it’s gradual breakdown over several days, when it starts to crash frequently before blacking out permanently.

3. Check the Battery

Sometimes the problem is not with your charger, but with your phone’s battery. If your battery is not the removable kind, hold down the power button for thirty seconds to perform a power cycle.

Android Phone Battery

If the battery can be removed, take it out and examine it to see if it is leaking or damaged in any way. Perform a power cycle by taking out the battery for a few seconds and then putting it back in.

4. Call Your Phone

Use a different phone to call yours. If your phone rings but the screen remains black, this means the problem is only with your screen and not with the rest of the phone’s software.

Call Icon

If your phone does not respond in any way, that means there is something wrong with your phone’s software, which is in need of a hard reboot.

5. Connect to Your PC

Android And Pc Connection

If your phone is not responding to your touches, try to force it to respond by accessing it via your computer. Attach the phone to your PC with a USB cable and wait for it to sync with your PC. Try to charge your phone via your PC, and restart the device by holding the Power button down a couple of times at fifteen-minute intervals to see if it is responding.

6. Recovery Mode

This is the most extreme step you will have to take to fix your phone if all the previous methods failed. Be warned that resetting your phone via recovery mode will wipe all your personal data from your device, like pictures, documents, apps, etc.

Android Factory Reset

The thing about entering Recovery mode is that every smartphone has a different set of button combinations that need to be pressed in order to enter the mode. For example, the following are the steps for recovery mode on a OnePlus 6t phone:

1. Turn off your phone by holding down the Power button for a few seconds.

2. Press the Power and Volume Down buttons at the same time for a few seconds.

3. If you have a password, you will be taken to a screen where you input the password.

4. You will see three options for language where you can select English.

5. You will see another options menu. Choose “Wipe data and cache,” then “Wipe cache” and finally “Yes.”

6. Finally, click “Reboot” and wait. When your phone starts again, it will have been reset to its factory settings, hopefully without the glitch that caused it to become unresponsive.


If your phone is still not working, it is possibly irreparably damaged. It is time to decide whether to take the device to your nearest trusted phone repair shop to see if they can help fix the problem without it costing an arm and a leg or to buy a new phone.

Image Credit: mroach via Flickr, Hannu Makarainen via Flickr

Neeraj Chand
Neeraj Chand

Content writer with a keen interest in global technology and pop culture trends.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox