Samsung Galaxy Won’t Hold Charge and Vibrates Continuously

tl;dr, how did I fix this?
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, there is a very good chance that your power button is just stuck. Your mission is simply to un-stick it. (Really! It’s that simple. It took me about 10 minutes to fix once I realized what the source of the problem was.) Read on for more details.

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Last week was my friend’s going away party. We gathered at Crashspace, watched movies, drank drinks, and somehow during the night… broke my phone.

I woke up the next day with a headache and a phone that wouldn’t charge. When plugged in, it would vibrate on an even interval every 2 seconds. Samsung Galaxy phones vibrate once when they’re turned on, so it felt as if the phone were continuously rebooting.

I googled around with my symptoms, and surely enough, tons of people are complaining in forums about Samsung Galaxy phones that suddenly stop turning on or holding a charge, and which vibrate on even intervals. Some said they took the phones to Samsung, AT&T, or whomever, and all were told they were SOL and that they needed a new phone because theirs was bricked and dead for good. They paid for new phones, their data was lost, and their old phones went into some landfill somewhere.

This advice from Samsung and AT&T is, of course, WRONG.

Note: You breaking your phone doing this is your fault, not mine. I’m working with a Galaxy Note, but other Galaxy phones are a very similar process. Tweak as necessary.

Method One: Brute Force Fix
The plastic power button on your phone is just a piece of plastic. Beneath it is a smaller button which is actually soldered to your phone’s motherboard. The smaller button on the board is the one that is likely stuck.

Plug your phone in, and just press your power button over and over quickly in an attempt to dislodge the smaller button beneath. If the screen comes on and you see the image of the charging battery, stop. You win. Leave it alone, let it charge, and then turn it on once it’s had a chance to charge up a bit. This doesn’t prevent your button from getting stuck again in the future, but it may allow you to get the phone on and your data transferred to a computer.

Method Two: Srs Biznis
If clicking the power button didn’t work, you’ll have to open up the phone. Luckily, this is really easy.

First, pry the back of your phone off and remove the battery, SIM card, and Micro SD card.

Next, remove the screws with a small screwdriver. Eyeglass screwdrivers work great. Next, take those screwdrivers and use them to pry the case off of your phone. (Be careful! I got a few small dents in my phone’s plastic case from doing this.)

Your phone should now look like this:

The blue board is the motherboard. Near the top, on the side, you’ll see the small white internal button attached to the motherboard:

Here’s my external plastic power button, which I temporarily removed from my phone:

With that off, I reassembled the phone, and tried the “keep pressing the button until it un-sticks” method on the small white button on the motherboard. (I had to use a screwdriver to reach the white button through the hole in the casing.) This finally worked for me. Once I got the screen to light, I left it alone and let it charge. Since then I’ve gotten my precious data backed up onto my computer, and the phone appears to be working fine. After I had my data backed up, I went and put the external power button back on the phone.

That’s it! If this helped you, please consider leaving a tip.

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Note: If your phone still doesn’t work, then I recommend two things:

First, stop and think about the symptoms you’re having. If they aren’t identical to what I described, you might have a dead battery, a bad charger, dirt in your phone’s usb port, or some other issue.

Second, if your symptoms are just like mine, and nothing I described worked, you might need a new button. Luckily, that little button can be de-soldered very easily. Just place a hot soldering iron on these grey dots above the button, and it will fall right off:

Check out online retailers like Jameco or Digi-Key, and drop some spare change on a new button. They’re called “SMT Tactile Switches.” You’ll need one with two little feet, so it can fit back into the two holes in the motherboard when you solder it back on.

Good luck!