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Any Idea About Why My Phone Is Dying?


Apr 26, 2020
Hello Folks:

TL;DR Is there a way to return my phone to factory settings? It has a removable battery, which I've removed today. What apps are safe, and unsafe, to remove? Why does Wi-Fi switch turn itself off a second after I turn it on?

My phone is a Samsung SM J260A, locked to AT&T. It might be the cheapest Android phone Samsung sells in America, $62. It's about three years old.

It's been complaining about running out of storage for a few months.

I've noticed it losing functionally in the last week and today it's refused to connect to my Wi-Fi. Tapping the Wi-Fi switch on causes it to slide to the right, briefly shine blue, then slide back to the left, turning itself off. The whole cycle takes about a second. I'm wondering if this could be related to its memory issue.

My sister's phone, same model, connects to my Wi-Fi just fine.

Two weeks ago I noticed it's clock alarm has gone silent. The snooze rings but not the initial alarm.

I'd like to show you some screen shots, something I could capture a yesterday, but now I'm seeing "Can't take screenshot due to security policy." pop up.

It tells me 15.8 GB of its 16 GB of internal storage is being used, with 227 MB available.

I've tried to direct anything that requires storage, like storing videos and images, to use my SD card, which has 1.9 Gigs of 236.3 available Gigs being used.

Storage analysis shows 191 KB for Audio and 15.76 GB for Other. Everything else reads 0 B.

The phone came with a ridiculous amount of bloatware, which I haven't bothered removing.

If an app looks like I don't need it, is it safe to remove? Since I can't connect, I won't be able to pull anything I need from Google Play.

I know it's only $62.00 to replace, but things are tight right now.

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Hi Again:

I just ran a test, and it doesn't look good for my phone.

I swapped my SIM and SD card to my sister's phone, and everything worked fine.

My phone had the same problem with her SIM and SD.

I also did a Reset Settings and a Reset Network Settings, with no effect.

I guess it's new phone time. Bad timing for me.

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Do a factory reset.
Save your important files beforehand.
This should buy you some time
Thanks Dannydet:

My contacts are backed up to my PC.

I'd rather backup my info on my PC than Samsung's cloud.

My videos and pictures are on my SD card, which I'll remove from the phone before resetting it.

I'd like to save my call logs, apps, calendar and messages, Is there a way to do that?

I can't think of anything else. Do you see something I'm overlooking?

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Sms backup and restore from the play store, if everything else is tied to your Gmail account you can just reinstall everything again.

Thanks again Dannydet:

Unfortunately, without Wi-Fi I don't have access to the Play Store.

I need to drag anything I want to preserve by hand.

I have my pictures and contacts, which are the only critical resources, and I can re-install apps.

I'd really like to have preserve my messages.

The call log and calendar would be nice, but not critical.

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Typically I'd only recommend a Factory Reset as a last resort solution but given how your phone has so little free storage and it's having so many usability problems, that does appear to be a viable step to take. But not having WiFi connectivity does limit your options quite a bit. Bummer.

You might want to use Samsung's Smart Switch utility to do a full backup of your phone's user account. Do the backup to your PC using a USB cable since you don't have and want to avoid using Samsung's online storage.
You install the application to your PC, then you need to go through an authentication process so it can detect and connect to your phone.

Otherwise, yes the SMS Backup & Restore app is a really good suggestion. This allows you to save (manually or set up automatic scheduled backups) for your SMS messages and phone call logs to a xml file. (Note this excludes attached MMS content so no photos nor videos). But this app does need to be installed on your phone so you'll need to go through extra steps to obtain and install it. Use your PC, or sister's phone, and go the apkmirror site to download the APK file for the SMS Backup & Restore app:
Note that apkmirror is a well-reputed, third-party repository for Android APKs that verifies all the content they provide. Anyway, you'll need to copy your downloaded APK file to your microSD card, and then put it back in your phone to side load the AKP to install the app onto your phone.

Hopefully a Factory Reset will restore your phone back to a usable condition again. Before you go through the arduous process of restoring your backed up data, go into the Settings menu and Uninstall any superfluous apps you know you'll never use. Keep in mind that a lot of those apps are preinstalled, system-level apps from Samsung so you can't just Uninstall them, at best you might be able to Disable them. But don't get too overzealous about this either, some things just have to be left as is for your phone to be functional. And keep in mind Samsung opts to add a lot of cruft and branded bloat to their devices, more than other manufacturers. That's just a given. Which leads to an additional point, with a lower spec phone you do need to also keep lower expectations. While there are some outliers, budget class phones tend to have less RAM and less internal storage.
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Thank you Svim:

I downloaded Smart Switch version 4.3.23043.3 to my PC and followed the instructions for installing and running it.

The Windows screen said "Download the Smart Switch app to the connected device."

I found an icon on my phone for Smart Switch, version number I don't know when it was installed, possibly a couple of years ago when the phone was new and I was looking a method to back up my contacts. Is there a way to find an app's install date?

I start Smart Switch on my phone.

A connection was established and a window came up on the phone "Transfer your data" with two choices, "Send data" and "Receive data". I hit "Send data".

I was asked to connect cable or wireless and selected cable.

Still on the phone "Get connected" and what looks like a simple schematic drawing of two phones connected by a USB cable.

And there it hung.

So I decided to backup my sister's phone.

She didn't have Smart Switch installed, so I downloaded it, version

Starting Smart Switch on my sister's phone quickly lead to a schematic clearly showing a PC connected to with a cable her phone. A couple of more clicks and the file transfer started. Five minutes later the transfer was finished without incident. I didn't try to reset her phone and recover but all signs point to a successful process.

Perhaps the current version of Smart Switch is not compatible with the version I have installed in my phone.

I'm a C++ programmer. One of the things that attracted me to Android over iPhone is an understanding that I can put apps I develop on my phone without going through Google Play or any other intermediary. Is this a correct assumption?

I'm wondering if there's any way to install Smart Switch from my PC or another phone.

"the SMS Backup & Restore app is a really good suggestion." I believe that requires access to Google Play.

I appreciate the effort made in to help me.

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You can go to apkmirror.com and download and install every app you need, no play store needed....
Thanks Dannydet:

I've looked at APKMirror's FAQ.

I'm not seeing the guide for idiots that I was hoping to find.

A file with the catchy name of com.sec.android.easyMover_3.7.42.12-374212130_minAPI14(arm64-v8a,armeabi-v7a,x86,x86_64)(nodpi)_apkmirror.com.apk is now on my PC, almost 36 meg.

attempts to copy this file with Windows Explore into the phone/download and onto the phone's SD card have failed. After about 20 seconds a bar sweeps 1/4 the way across a progress bar and then stops with a gong sound.

Is there a log of the failure I can examine?

I appreciate your suggestions. It's slow and frustrating, with no guarantee of success, but I feel progress is being made.

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I suggest you re-read my previously posted comment on installing the SMS Backup & Restore app by side loading its APK:
Again, just to repeat you're particular situation, given your phone cannot currently get reliable online connectivity this requires you to either use your PC or your sister's phone to obtain the appropriate APK from the link I posted for you. With the added, overall caveat -- always pay a lot of attention to where you obtain APK installers. Side loading apps requires more vigilance because of all the morons online who post their own repositories that have questionable and manipulated content.

Regarding installing the latest version of the Smart Switch app to your phone, if you're expecting parity between the available desktop and mobile versions, that's not a reality. As far as you're concerned, the latest Android release from Samsung is, as indicated by its Play Store page.
But if you feel that updating the installed app on your phone will solve the problem, you can also just download its APK (also the latest version) from apkmirror:
Could be wrong, but I doubt your version is the actual source of your problem, have you tried using a different USB cable? Or if you're plugging your phone into something like a USB hub, try plugging it directly into a USB port in your PC. Is your phone even showing as being automatically mounting itself? If it's a Windows PC try reinstalling the Samsung device driver -- the current driver should have been automatically installed when you installed the Smart Switch application but if that process failed it might require you to solve any conflict issue and reinstall the driver. (check the Device Manager in the USB section).
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Can you open a browser on the device itself, go to apkmirror.com and download from there? No transfer from PC needed.
Thanks Dannydet:

There's a black bar across the top of the phone's Chrome window with the words "No internet connection."

My phone isn't connecting to Wi-Fi.

Clicking on the Settings -> Connections -> Wi-Fi button causes it to slide to the right and turn blue, then sliding itself back to the left to turn as if it's turning off Wi-Fi by itself. That takes about a second.

One switch that I can turn on is Mobile Network Diagnostics. Is there a log I can access somewhere on my phone?

Is there a way for my phone to access the Internet through the USB connector and my PC?

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I put my SIM and SD card in my sister's phone and copied the two variants of the current version of Smart Switch APKMirror has in their site.

I also downloaded SMS Backup & Restore for good measure.

After moving SIMs and SDs back i attempted to install.

For each:

"There was a problem parsing the packages."

I see no hint of the problem.

As I've stated, I'm very grateful for the effort you two have made to help me.

I'm up to try anything you think is worth trying, but it's getting time to do a factory reset, which might not even resolve the problems.

I've backed up my contact and photographs, the most important things.

The programs we're to download perform comprehensive backups of every possibly useful file.

Are there instructions for backing up specifically the messages and the call log like I was able to find for backing up the contacts?

Thanks again
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TL,DR No bad news, other than it took me all night to get EVERYTHING recovered on on my old, apparently fully functional, phone.

Smart Switch from an icon on my phone failed to perform a backup. It tried to connect to another device.

Settings -> General Management -> Backup and restore ->External storage transfer -> Back up to SD card ->Select data to back up -> Everything worked to backup my phone to its SD card.

I'll keep the following for instructional purpose. It's a log of what I did, recorded as I did it.


A little good news, a little bad news:

I was unsuccessful running the Smart Switch app, which I started with an icon in the phone's display.

I took one more stroll through the settings and found something in General Management -> Backup and restore ->External storage transfer -> Back up to SD card ->Select data to back up -> Everything.

It looked like it worked, but after showing 100% finished the phone complained about not having enough memory.

This is better than I've seen before, so I removed a bunch of apps and tried one more time.

It looks like it worked! The SD card had a brand new directory called SmartSwitchBackup with 1.7 GB.

I moved that directory to my PC. I can move files off of the phone, just not in the other direction. However the fact that my PC can access the phone's directories means there's two way communication at some level.

Now the bad news.

I pulled out the SD card and did a factory reset on the phone.

The phone asked to be connected to Wi-Fi.

My Wi-Fi password is 58 characters long, too long to remember and enter by hand. I set a temporary short password on the router. I entered that password and was told the Password was invalid. I tried giving the router different password but nothing would work.

I took the option the phone gave me to skip the Wi-Fi setup,

Now it's just spinning with "Checking for updates ...Taking too long? try going back and connecting to a different network"

I let that spin for over an hour.

I decided to try removing security from Wi-Fi but the phone still told me I had an invalid password. I popped security back on immediately.

So I bricked my phone, but I have everything backed up.


The reason I couldn't connect to WiFi is because I changed router's 5GHz password, but not the 2.4 GHz password.

Now the phone connected to the Wi-Fi and the recovery proceeded without incident.

I went to General Management -> Backup and restore ->External storage transfer and recovered the files from the SD.

I wasn't asked for the source to recover from, which was displayed as 1.07 GB, as opposed to the 1.7 GB size of the backup file. I'm not seeing anything missing, so I'm not sure why there is a difference. It would have been nice to be able to select the source.


Something to know for the next time you see something like this.

Thanks again for the effort Dannydet: and Svim made to help me.

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Log back into your router's setup page, reset the SSID passwords for either or both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, and use (even just temporarily) simpler passwords. Then connect your phone, using the newly created passwords, to whichever network to do your restore. You're unnecessarily limiting yourself by thinking your phone can only connect to one or the other. Since you changed the password before, just change them again.
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