Help! What happened to my cell phone?
February 15, 2007 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Help! What happened to my cell phone the other day?

While on vacation in San Francisco, I had the bad luck to be caught in a rainstorm with my cell phone (A Samsung a650 using Verizon) in my jacket pocket. Now I thought that my jacket would be a nice, dry place to store it... but...

Cut about 24 hours past the storm.

All of the sudden, I realize that my cell phone is vibrating uncontrollably. Given that my phone is set to ring mode and that I never used the vibrate option before, it's a bit odd. I turn the phone off and turn it back on.

This is where all the fun begins. Suddenly when I turn my cell phone turns back on, it gets caught on the "searching for carrier" screen. When I press the clear button, I go back to the main screen. I get a big textbox saying "INITIAL PROGRAMMING NEEDED"

Then I check my contacts and all my contacts are gone.

I'm at a bit of a loss as my phone worked fine after the storm. Moreso, I'm worried because I used my cell for business often and had some rather important numbers stored on there.

Now when I try to make calls with the phone, it searches for a carrier (I use Verizon). I can't retrieve my contacts list for anything and the whole phone just seems conked.

Is there any way to get this phone usable again or will I be forced to buy a new one? Moreso, is there any way to get my contacts back? Any way at all?

Help this cell phone-inept fella out, folks.
posted by huskerdont to Technology (8 answers total)
You need to take it to a Verizon store. What's happened is that the NVM has gotten trashed. Maybe it's a physical problem, in which case you'll need to replace the phone. Maybe it isn't, in which case it will need to be reprogrammed by a Verizon tech at the store. But it isn't anything you can take care of on your own; it requires special program tools that aren't sold to the public.

The reason the phone searches is that the Preferred Roaming List is gone.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:19 AM on February 15, 2007

It's most likely just the SIM card. I've had my son wash (tossing in the washer) an entire phone and the whole thing ended up fine after i cleaned up the inside. Except of course, the sim card. Your carrier will provide one for you, but your contacts, ect are gone.
posted by IronLizard at 10:26 AM on February 15, 2007

IronLizard: Verizon phones use CDMA and have no SIM card. All the stuff that normally goes on a SIM card is stored on internal non-volatile-memory (the NVM that SC.DB mentions).
posted by aubilenon at 11:03 AM on February 15, 2007

My fault, please ignore my previous answer. (Really? They still use that? I thought even AT&T wireless, in whatever permutation they were at the time, dropped that fairly soon after GSM was introduced here)

Perhaps someone on the will have the firmware backup to fix this? Though it may require a special cable, ect and not be worth it. That's all I can think of besides what SCDB has already suggested.
posted by IronLizard at 11:34 AM on February 15, 2007

You can also try the old standby of *228 send for the initial set up of a Verizon phone.
posted by routergirl at 11:42 AM on February 15, 2007

My phone buzzed just like that after it got wet. I had to get a new phone, mine was shot.
posted by Elaisa at 11:58 AM on February 15, 2007

If you're going to try to send it in for repair under warranty, pop out the battery and look for a red dot about the size of the dots that come out of a standard 3-hole paper punch.

These dots are normally white, but they turn red when exposed to water. For Verizon, this automatically voids your warranty and you will have to pay for the repairs or replacement costs out-of-pocket. My Verizon RAZR phone has two, one under the battery and one on the battery itself.

If the dot is red, you might consider just buying a new phone as, from my experience, the cost of repairs is usually pretty obnoxious. You can get good deals on eBay.

This is assuming that you haven't' signed up for their insurance program which covers accidental damage.
posted by ZoomX2 at 3:24 PM on February 15, 2007

Not an answer, but to avoid losing your contacts again, sign up for "My Account" on, and they have this thing called Backup Assistant. It'll store all your contacts for you and allow you to transfer them to a new phone (whether you upgrade or replace a phone). Its free if you sign up for the "My Account" thing.

(I do not work for Verizon, and to be honest, I'm not a huge fan or Verizon, even though I use them. But Backup Assistant is a very good thing.)
posted by AlisonM at 4:25 PM on February 15, 2007

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