Charging/USB doesn't work except when turned off, phone reacts to USB-cable but crashes seconds after charging begins

EDIT: Some short info: Bought phone June 2018 (new camera module), installed Fairphone Open and upgraded to Android 7 when offer came in November.

This is what happens. I went to charge my phone like I always do and the battery did not get the lightning bolt that shows that it’s in charging mode. This is what I tried and what happened. Tried to…

  • insert the micro USB cable to charge phone
  • change the charger
  • change the cable
  • make sure charger and cable works with other devices
  • test to connect phone to computer with cable but computer no longer recognizes phone
  • EDIT: Wiggle the cable when it’s connected to the phone to see if it’s a loose usb contact in the phone. Nope.

At this point I started suspecting that something might be wrong with the USB-port on the phone so I turned off my phone and tried to charge it while the power was off. To my surprise, the phone woke up to charging mode but the power off charging display just flashes by before the phone crashes (I assume) and the loop starts again. Like this:

  • Phone is beginning to startup with the bootscreen (about 14 seconds) when I connect the USB-charger
  • LED on phone lights up (for about 1.5 seconds)
  • Charging screen lights up (for about 0.2 seconds)
  • Phone dies and goes dark
  • Wait a few seconds and it reboots and repeats the same over and over again

So it does not seem to be a problem with the port but rather some software problem. I can still turn on my phone but the battery won’t charge.

After all this I tried to turn off the phone but it immediately rebooted. Tried again and got the same result. In case to phone crashes it reboots by default but when I started it again and explicitly told it to power off it rebooted instead.

I’ve seen that Android 7 (which I have) on FP2 have a problem if you have the new camera module. I have not bought a new module but I bought my phone in June 2018 so I tried the quick fix where you turn on the flashlight and power off but it didn’t work.

EDIT: Apparently, I have the new camera module and the flashlight trick worked the second time I did it.


I might add some info that might help somebody who tries to solve my problem. Right before the charging problem began, I had turned on my Bluetooth headset in the middle of a call and right before I heard the “connection sound” in my headset I accidentally clicked to disable Bluetooth and the phone promptly crashed.

You do have the “new” camera model in a phone bought in June 2018. You will be able to see that as this model has a white “line” between the lense and the flash.
Try again the workaround with the flash. It may not have worked on the first attempt.
And sorry, your charging problem doesn’t sound familiar to me. I’ve no advice here :frowning:

Thanks for the quick answer.

Yeah, I see the line. I tried to do the flashlight trick again and this time it worked.

I might add some info that might help somebody who tries to solve my problem. Right before the charging problem began, I had turned on my Bluetooth headset in the middle of a call and right before I heard the “connection sound” in my headset I accidentally clicked to disable Bluetooth and the phone promptly crashed.

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Are you using FPOS or FP Open (I’ve just found you’re using Android seven…)? Did you recently update?
EDIT: I’m just afraid your battery will soon be empty if you can’t load it anymore :hushed:
Have you ever done a manual OS installation?
And even more important: have you ever done a backup? If not, it’s now time…!

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I’m using Fairphone Open. I made the update more than a month ago with no problems at all. Every thing in my phone has continued to work as it should.

I turned off my phone and last I saw it, it was at 30% so I have some wiggle room. Does install Fairphone Open count? I used my Linux terminal with an image to install everything.

No. I have never done a backup on my phone. Can you recommend a tool (phone is not rooted)? I can probably still transfer files to my computer via SSH (USB doesn’t work).

Well, 30% is not much. I’m not sure it’s enough for a backup…

You might try MyPhoneExplorer to copy some personal data.
Or you could do a backup using fastboot

You also could have a look at the support pages:

But in any case you should open a ticket with support as your phone is still under warranty (if bought new in summer).

Be aware though:

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Fortunately, I have a Nextcloud instance that backs up all photos and I don’t have other things of value on my phone. I copied all my valuable data to my Nextcloud instance so right now I haven’t got anything really important left there.

And, oh yeah: The phone just suddenly started to allow charging again!… Gonna let it charge to 100% and see what happens. Just going to keep my old phone with me as backup for a while.

I’m suspicious…

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Aaaand it has stopped working again. Pulled out the charger at 97% and put it in again. Wont charge.

It’s perhaps time for an option independent from the phone as a makeshift measure …

Yeah, I have a backup phone (my old phone with a shattered screen) so I won’t be stranded without communication.

If I remember correctly, there should be a person with a Fairphone in my local Hackerspace. Not sure if it’s a FP 2 but it’s worth checking out.

I was thinking about buying an extra battery (for some long trips I have into the wilderness) anyway so maybe I should get one and a separate charger.

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I do have the same issue as you.
The only way that seems to allow my phone to charge, is to turn it off (with the flashlight on) then it seems to charge, although it’s still the red LED on so not sure how much it’s actually charging.

Regarding the extra battery, I’ve got three (one from 2016 and two from 2018), and it doesn’t matter which one I put in, the phone still won’t charge.

Will watch the replies here to see if any miracle solution comes up. This is my only phone so quite desperate.

I was about where you are right now. I contacted support and went through troubleshooting (I borrowed some components from my friend) and they concluded that my phone was faulty. I’m in the process of getting it switched out.

It sounds like you have tried a lot of things; Contact support and go through their troubleshooting. It might be that your phone is faulty as well.

EDIT: Assuming it’s still under warranty!

Thanks, yes I will go through troubleshooting… However I got my phone in January 2016 so not under warranty anymore…
BUT a software upgrade shouldn’t stop my phone to charge! so warranty or not, they should fix this!


not sure whether the problem is related to the camera module at all. I also suspect that it’s some sort of nasty - rare and hard to track down - problem with the software. My phone just worked fine for the past three years, and now it suddenly started to show problems similar to the ones you describe here.

note: I didn’t change cable/charger that were known to be working in the past. And now also tried to exclude possible faulty hardware with different cable/charger combinations. No luck.

I also have two batteries, and they both behave the same. I had a problem in the past were I thought the problem was due to an exhausted battery, but it was not. [off-topic, that problem was due to the second SIM drowning battery life for still-to-be-undersood issues]

Chances that via USB or power bank the phone will charge are slightly higher, but still very frequently since two weeks or so, the phone will stop charging (signs of flashing battery indicator and the on-device LED switching on-off randomly).

I also ordered a new USB module now, waiting for it to be shipped next week.

Sadly, if this doesn’t solve the problem, I think it will be the end of my Fairphone journey…
With lots of downs, and a few ups.

The product doesn’t seem to mature as the company wishes to. Community efforts are sparse and not well organized. It is an understandable challenge, as a smartphone is a very complex device to develop, but most of all to maintain.

Good luck.

I would not consider this as a solution to this problem, so the “solution” flag is inappropriate in my opinion.

Yeah, good point. I removed the tag. Best of luck.

This seems to have been the cause of the problem for my beloved Fairphy.:slight_smile:
Now I guess it could be related to: (i) oxidized contacts on the USB connector (although I had tried to clean them with contact cleaner already), (ii) broken/flaky mechanical contact somewhere along the line (the phone is not “drop free” since it’s 3 years old).

What I could still do now is to open the FP-SPK01 module and try to diagnose the issue further…
but I don’t really have the time to do so… @Fairphone should you want to do this, I am willing to ship back the module at my own expenses.:slight_smile: [such that you can also recycle it if you will. :eyeglasses: ]

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I’m happy to hear that your problem has been solved!

As this is a user forum you can probably not expect a response to that offer.