(mis)adventures in software development...

21 December 2017

Death by bootloop of my Nexus 5X

Category Technology

My Nexus 5X has succumbed to the dreaded bootloop of death.

I was talking to my sister today, and guess what she said to me…”

Then silence, as my girlfriend paused for dramatic effect. At least that’s what I thought it was.

I was on the phone to my girlfriend. At least I thought I was.

I looked at my phone. The screen was off, and the phone didn’t respond to touches or key presses. Hmmm…couldn’t be the battery, I had just taken it off the charger. I held down the power key. It started to reboot.

I called her back.

My girlfriend once again started to regale me with the latest installment of interpersonal drama between herself and one of her sisters. Then the phone went dead again. I looked at the screen. It was rebooting again. Hmmm…had I inadvertently held down the power key, while steeling myself to hear about the latest installment of interpersonal drama between my girlfriend and one of her sisters? Possibly, but I didn’t think so.

Had my Nexus 5X become self-aware enough to know it no longer wanted to hear about my girlfriend’s interpersonal drama with her sisters? Possibly, who knows what Google’s machine learning algorithms are capable of, but I didn’t think so.

A third attempt at a phone conversation was also rudely interrupted by a spontaneous reboot, at which point it was clear something was going on with my phone. Had the force of my girlfriend’s sibling-induced rage remotely fried my phone? Possibly, but I didn’t think so.

We gave up on having a phone conversation that night, and I never got to find out what her sister had said to get her so riled up that day — by the time we next spoke she had moved on to another drama with another sister.

I didn’t try to make any more calls that night, but soon noticed that even when I put my phone down and didn’t use it, after a while it would still spontaneously reboot. And I began to get the impression the time between reboots was getting shorter and shorter.

At that point it was clear there was something wrong with my phone. I then realised that I didn’t have the photos on the phone backed up. I’d had the phone for around 15 months. Any other data of any importance would be synced to a cloud account, but I had deliberately turned off all cloud sync on my photos. So I had over a year’s worth of photos on a phone that was malfunctioning. Nothing earthshatteringly important, but still, stuff I’d like to retain.

I found a USB-C cable, then spent the rest of the night copying photos from the phone to my laptop — in batches, in between reboots. (I have never been more grateful for USB 3 transfer speeds!)

It was a good thing I did too. By the next day, the phone wouldn’t even boot up at all. It would reboot itself constantly, before it had even finished booting up. Pretty soon it was rebooting at the splash screen.

Great, so my phone was fucked. After just over a year. Planned obsolescence strikes again. It’s also the second Nexus branded device I have owned that failed after a relatively short time.