My phone, my beautiful phone!
January 22, 2014 3:32 PM   Subscribe

My Nexus 4 stopped charging in AC mode recently and would only charge as USB (i.e. slowly). The phone was charging normally with my husband's cord (even when plugged into my wall adapter) so I figured I needed a new cord. I bought a cheap one, and it wouldn't charge in AC mode either, so I did a bit of research and found I needed a higher rated one to charge at those speeds. I would have bought a replacement original Google brand one, but they stopped selling it. Instead I bought a highly recommended Tikbro 26AWG micro cable off ebay. I plugged it in when it arrived this morning. My phone went to AC mode for about two seconds, then "not charging", for another two, then went black and won't turn on again. My wall adapter is making a buzzing sound, even after unplugging it. Am I screwed? Is my phone permanently fried? WTF?
posted by lollusc to Technology (8 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: poster's request -- jessamyn

Sounds like the adapter, rather than the cable. The buzzing sounds like a transformer problem of some description.

In my experience, almost any USB charging adapter will work fine, as long as the output current is high enough (most are). We have several of them around the house for charging various tablets and phones, and we find we can treat them as interchangeable.

I've never had a USB cable that wouldn't charge a device, and I generally just fish a random one out of a tangled mess in a box whenever I need one.
posted by pipeski at 3:50 PM on January 22, 2014

You phone may just be out of juice. Have you tried charging it (slowly) from a computer USB socket?
posted by pipeski at 3:52 PM on January 22, 2014

Yeah, no it's not working with my husband's adapter now either. Although I'll accept that maybe the adapter was what killed it. (Although it's weird that this coincided with the first few seconds of use of the new cable).

And I'm charging it now from a computer socket and have been for the last hour. Nothing so far. It seems odd that it could go from 97% battery to out of juice instantly though.
posted by lollusc at 4:09 PM on January 22, 2014

Oh, and to clarify, it won't work with ANY cable or adapter now. I have several that were previously at least working to charge in USB mode.
posted by lollusc at 4:10 PM on January 22, 2014

I think your wall adapter and battery are both fried, and that your phone may or may not be OK.

I'd guess that the new cord was somehow the wrong model and tried to charge the battery backward--that is, with the wrong polarity-- and the resulting over-current caused the battery and the rectifier in the wall adapter to short out. The buzzing sound is the transformer drawing current beyond its design specs because of a shorted secondary.
posted by jamjam at 4:13 PM on January 22, 2014

If the battery is fried, what can I do? The battery on the Nexus 4 is not (officially) replaceable. Is there an unofficial way to replace it? Or a way to test whether that's the issue?
posted by lollusc at 4:20 PM on January 22, 2014

Clean the lint and gunk out of the micro usb port on your phone. A depapered twisty tie is the ideal tool.
posted by sanka at 4:25 PM on January 22, 2014

Have you tried that cable with another device you don't care about to see if the cable itself is fine?

What this sounds like to me is that something inside the phone was on the edge of failure. Charge controller IC, bad solder joint somewhere on the logic board, USB controller, etc. It wasn't kicking in to high current charging mode because some loose connection wasn't letting it verify that the one pin on the cable had the right amount of resistance to enable that mode.

The new cable might have introduced just a tiny little bit more resistance on the data pins that it needs to charge at the higher rate, and then then right after it kicked on to that something popped and died in the phone causing the current to spike and either blow some sacrificial wire in the transformer, a resistor, or something else in the charger.

I would be swearing a lot if this was my stuff, and be assuming that my phone AND charger were fucked.

It seems odd that it could go from 97% battery to out of juice instantly though.

This seems to generally confirm that something died in the phone that wasn't the battery. If you discharged the battery quickly enough to go from 97% to 0 the amount of thermal energy that would have released would have resulted in your phone becoming a road flare. It would look something like the clip at the beginning of this. Best case scenario a protection circuit died in the battery. More likely, and worst case, something or several somethings is dead on the logic board.

Note that nearly all smartphones will NOT boot with a dead or disconnected battery, as they can't charge or run from external power during the bootup process. replacing the battery doesn't look too bad either.

If that does make it work though, do a bunch of hair marys and never bother with high speed charging again on this specific device. If it doesn't, well then, phooey.
posted by emptythought at 4:39 PM on January 22, 2014

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