How to Debug a Cell Phone

By Brad Harris

Like computers, cell phones are prone to malfunction the longer they are in continuous operation. Many people use their phones every day to make calls, send messages, download music and surf the Web, without ever performing any kind of preventative maintenance. When the phone eventually begins malfunctioning, it becomes necessary to debug the device using tools built into the operating system.

Things You'll Need

  • Cell phone user manual

Step 1

Power-cycle your cell phone. This means turning it off for 30 seconds and then turning it back on. Generally, the red "End Call" key also serves as the power key, which should be held down until the phone powers off. Press this key again to turn it back on. Assess whether the issue you are experiencing is still present.

Step 2

Remove the battery while the device is powered on. This sudden power interrupt causes the phone to dump its temporary memory cache, potentially clearing up any software related issues that came about suddenly.

Step 3

Replace the battery and turn the phone back on. Because of the memory cache clear, it may take longer than normal for the phone to power up. Once it has done so, test for resolution. If the problem is still present, more advanced troubleshooting is required.

Step 4

Perform a master reset on your cell phone. This will reset all settings on the device to their factory standard configuration. This is generally done by pressing "Menu," "Settings," "Initial Setup" and "Master Reset." Input your security code when prompted and then allow the device to perform the reset and automatically power-cycle itself. Note that master reset steps may vary from phone to phone, so consult your user manual for alternate steps if needed. When the device has powered back up, test for resolution.

Step 5

Perform a master clear on the device. This will completely erase all data on the phone and re-install a fresh copy of the operating system onto your phone. Generally, this is done by pressing "Menu," selecting "Settings," "Initial Setup" and "Master Clear." Enter your security code when prompted and allow the device to reprogram itself, then test for resolution. Again, steps may vary, so consult your user manual as needed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Power-cycling your cell phone once per day is an excellent form of preventative maintenance that will ensure maximum performance on a consistent basis.
  • When you begin to experience issues with your cell phone, back up your contacts, pictures, music, etc,. on a memory card or on your computer. This data can be lost due to the issue itself or during the troubleshooting steps, so make sure you keep a copy on hand just in case.