Fix existing phone, or buy a new one?
March 30, 2014 2:14 PM   Subscribe

My wife's Android phone is unreliable. Can it be fixed, or should we just buy a new one?

About two months ago, my wife switched her phone service from Verizon to Ting. At the same time, she upgraded to a smart phone. She likes to use a physical keyboard, so we bought a Samsung Galaxy Epic 4G (SPH-D700) off of eBay. It was brand-new, in the box (no visible scratches or scuffs – it really did look new). Unfortunately, the phone has been flakey and unreliable from the beginning.

It tends to lock-up for a few minutes to a few hours at a time. Sometimes it comes back to life spontaneously; sometimes you have to take the battery out. Aside from the lock-ups, it also exhibits other quirks, like refusing to pick up an incoming call.

It’s true that it does work fine most of the time, but it’s too unreliable to continue using. I would prefer to fix it – but if that’s not possible, I’ll buy another model phone that also has a physical keyboard.

Here’s the information about the current phone:

Model number: SPH-D700
Firmware version: 2.3.6
Baseband version: S:D700.0.5S.FC09
Kernel version:
Build number: GINGERBREAD.FC09
Hardware version: D700.0.5

The phone is not rooted. If it’s not too complicated and it might help, then I’d be willing to try rooting it – but I don’t want to expend a lot of time and effort.

posted by alex1965 to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The first thing I'd try is a factory reset. Use it with a bare minimum number of apps for a while and see if the problems resurface. If they do and the phone is new, is it under warranty? Maybe you can get a replacement from Samsung?

You might also look around at XDA's forum for that phone. If the phone generally has stability problems, you'll see them in the forum.
posted by cnc at 2:53 PM on March 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

In general, if it is software based problems, a factory reset should take care of the major issues - maybe not all.

If it is hardware based, I think you're out of luck in terms of repair. Samsung might have a default out of warranty repair cost, but I think that money would be better spent toward a new phone, like the Moto X or Moto G. Money wise, the only thing I would put toward this phone is a new battery. There's a slight chance some of these problems with the phone dying and freezing could be battery related.
posted by shinynewnick at 4:49 PM on March 30, 2014

If it were me, I'd install cyanogenmod and see how it runs and if it is too much work or is still unstable, I'd discard the phone and get one released within the last year. Even if you could get the stock gingerbread to be stable, you'd still be a few major releases behind and probably susceptible to all sorts of security problems.
posted by Poldo at 5:08 PM on March 30, 2014

Agree that a factory reset is always the first thing to do.
posted by radioamy at 7:23 PM on March 30, 2014

Instructions to do a factory reset can be found here. Make sure that "automatic restore" and "backup my data" are unchecked.

You could ask a Samsung service centre to give you a quote but, like the others have said, I don't think it's worth it.

In terms of a replacement, get yourself the (unlocked) Motorola Moto G which is $200 for the 16GB variant. I'd avoid the 8GB one myself unless money is really tight - as only a few big apps will fill up the limited internal memory.
posted by mr_silver at 4:10 AM on March 31, 2014

OK, I did a factory reset. We'll see what happens.

The Moto X and the Moto G don't seem to have physical keyboards (which my wife favors). The Ting rep recommended the Samsung Transform or the Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE.

Thanks for all the advice. I'll post here when I find out if the factory reset fixed the problem. We should know within a day.
posted by alex1965 at 9:58 AM on March 31, 2014

I think that doing a factory reset has solved the problem. The phone hasn't locked-up since I did the reset.

Thanks go out to cnc for suggesting it first. I'm glad I don't have to spend the money on buying a new phone.
posted by alex1965 at 12:05 PM on April 5, 2014

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