Friday, January 23, 2015

Lumia Problems

I'm a pretty serious fan of Windows Phone, and especially Lumia devices.   In addition to the NH Windows Phone Users Group (now Granite State Windows Platform App Devs),  I've convinced everyone in my immediate family, and a good chunk of my extended family to go Lumia... 

So it breaks my heart when I see a Windows Phone that's gone awry.  Among the many I've come in contact with, I've seen one or two develop issues that seem outside of normal hardware wear & tear.

My own device has occasionally had trouble with its SD card, occasionally forcing a restore.   These are annoyances to me, Windows Phone is a cloud car, so resetting the device and getting it back to normal is really only a mater of re-entering credentials, and the phone's back in business.   The restore tends to re-apply start-screen layout and the set of installed apps on the device... the apps themselves are responsible for their individual recoveries, typically from their own cloud backups.   The few times I've been forced to do a full hard reset & restore, it's been an ordeal that typically lasted under an hour (with a good Wifi connection).

This past week, I think the SD card flaked out again, but restoring from a backup didn't resolve the issues.   I identified a number of odd behaviors, and was almost convinced my device was beyond recovery:

  • Power button:  the typical short-click which should toggle the device in & out of standby mode simply was not operating.   Long clicks, intended to shut the device down completely, were working, so... not a hardware disconnect.   In order to wake the phone up, I had to plug in a power source... and then had to wait for it to put itself to sleep.
  • App updates:  app updates were identified and the device would queue them, but rather than automatically downloading and installing, they'd hang in the download queue, all marked as Pending.  Occasionally one would come up with an error, but a retry would simply hang it back in Pending state.
  • WiFi internet sharing would not allow clients to connect.
  • Power saver:  on a whim, I put the device in power saver mode.  At first, it wouldn't take the change.  Then I told it to always go in powersaver mode, and then, ironically, I couldn't get it OUT of power saver mode.
  • Data Sense:  the app would crash and abend when trying to open it.
  • Mail sync:  would only sync manually
  • Alarm:  I missed my usual bus twice this week because my alarm failed & I overslept.
The end solution:  hard reset, but don't restore from a backup...  just manually set up your accounts and re-download apps.  It took me a couple hours, but to get my 1520 back on track again, it was well worth the time.  In retrospect, I'm also happier because I didn't re-install a ton of apps that I don't use anymore, so the device is much leaner.  

The Windows Phone platform is relatively mature... it doesn't fail often, but I think I'm going to have to pick up a better SD card.  The hard part is that I think I've heard rumors of some of these symptoms on devices that don't have SD card slots.

My understanding is that it has something to do with the Cyan firmware update.  The Denim firmware may provide more stability, and that update started rolling out to devices in December with a promise that by the end of that month, it would be rolled out to the full Lumia nation.  We're pushing into Feb 2015, and most in the US are still waiting.


[Addendum, 5/7/2015]:  My Lumia 1520 had a relapse of the above symptoms on Windows Phone 8.1.1 / Denim.   On a whim, I decided to try upgrading to the Windows 10 Insider Preview.  The problems with the SD card intensified as well.  I finally bit the bullet and replaced the SD card.  I did have to hard reset the phone back to the "stock" Windows 10 Insider Preview, but after that, not only were all the above symptoms resolved, but another long running annoyance...  a problem I thought to be related to the Lumia 1520 itself, went away.  The problem...  often, entering the unlock code, number presses would repeat so quickly that the phone would fail to unlock.  Occasionally it was bad enough to lock my phone for a minute or two.    Again, this issue is now resolved along with the other symptoms I noted in this post by replacing the SD card with a new one.
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