Simple Fixes: Stuck Power Button on Pixel phone

in OCD11 months ago


Sometimes, annoying tech problems have annoyingly stupidly simple (and physical) solutions. As a bit of a tech nerd, I generally tend to go a bit more in for the more trickier fixes... but sometimes, I need to be reminded that there are simple ones one offer as well, that might fix the problem in a better way! Of course, we are always reminded of that IT Crowd running joke where the tech support just ends up saying "Have you tried turning it off and on again?"... which is something that does tend to fix quite a stunning list of problems!

Now, it is a bit of a running house joke that my wife treats her phones pretty damn badly... she swears she doesn't, but somehow... a stint with her, and all her phones have managed to get pretty bashed around with damaged screens and all the rest of that... meanwhile, I have yet (touch wood...) to damage a screen! I actually think that it is her way of suggesting that she wants a new phone... despite the fact that she swears that she hates new tech and getting a new phone generally involves about several months of pain for both of us whilst she learns the ins and outs of the new shiny.

Anyway, today was an interesting one... we were about leave on a dreaded shopping trip to IKEA... when, suddenly her phone started calling emergency services and making a loud alarm sound! WTF!... we managed to stop it before it called, but then the phone started flashing up the camera... and then rebooting and turning the screen on and off quite rapidly... and then calling the SOS again!

Well, needless to say... it wasn't going to be a fun IKEA trip if the phone was calling the emergency line every 5 minutes... although, I'm sure that many people have needed rescuing from the eternal maze that is the IKEA showrooms!

After fiddling around bit, I figured out that the case that was around the phone was pressing the power button quite rapidly... perhaps a tight fit or something. However, after taking the casing off, the phone was still quite prone to starting the camera or turning the screen on/off and rebooting.... with the occasional call to the emergency services thrown in for fun (but much less...). Anyway, it turned out that the power button was incredibly sensitive... the slight touch with little to no pressure would trigger the button press... and sometimes, that would translate into a long press (bringing up the power out menu...)... or a double press, which would launch the camera... or if we were particularly unlucky, 5 quick presses which would trigger the SOS emergency.

So, the first thing that I did was disable the SOS emergency as soon as I could... I'm not really sure that it would be a useful feature anyway.... but who knows. For the moment, it was an unwelcome annoyance, and we definitely didn't want the emergency services to be repeatedly called (you had 5 seconds to cancel the alarm!).

After that, we put it in my wife's bag, but with the power button facing upwards, so that it was unlikely to be touched by anything.... but it appeared possible that we were looking at purchasing a new phone for her... no problem, she is due for an upgrade at some point anyway. But it is always better to choose the time, rather than be forced due to a malfunction!

When I returned home, I was starting to wonder if it was more of a physical problem rather than a software one.... which would have certain advantages if it was... namely, not having to root around on the interwebz looking for some weird software fix that might or might not be safe to use!

However, a physical problem is a different problem in that phones these days aren't really designed to be easily taken apart. Some people had suggested that the problem of a stuck/sensitive power button was due to either gunk build-up around the edges of the button (which stops it fully extending back out)... or due to debris/dust between the button and the contact...

If it was the first, then it would mean that I would need to try and clean the area with rubbing alcohol and cotton tips... both of which we don't currently have, seeing as we have just moved to a new place! I used to have a stock of those in the Netherlands... but these are the things that you pick up over time.

So, hunting around for a different solution... I was almost already tempted to just transfer the SIM temporarily to a used old phone. When I came across a post on our friendly XDA forums that suggested this:

Yep... what better way to clear debris/dust or whatever physical problem... than doing the hand equivalent of just kicking it. Just whacking it sharply with something around the power button, on the front and back... until it works!

The original poster on XDA had mentioned that they had thought that this was a joke... until they also tried it out on their wife's phone... and it worked.

I figured I had nothing to loose... so, I whacked it around with knuckles and then with a padded tool from my iFixit toolkit.

.. and WTF?!??!! it worked!

Sigh... brawn before brains this time?... let's see if the fix holds!

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