Gibberish contacts

For some months now, I have got a very curious problem with my contacts. I was not able to find anything related on the internet yet.

When I create a new contact, it is saved under a seemingly random “gibberish” name, which makes it very difficult to find and handle.

Some examples:
“test” becomes “nwwj”
“Test” also becomes “nwwj”
“tests” becomes “vkjim”
“new test” becomes “hpv nwwj”
“test new” becomes “nwwy hpv”

“test 0” becomes “nwwj 8”
“test 1” becomes “nwwj 4”
“test0” becomes “zaix0”
“test1” becomes “yitj0”

I fail to see a pattern except for:
* the number of letters and numerals remains the same
* uppercase is ignored

Things become even more curious:

  • When using a different keyboard (literatim or an external bluetooth keyboard) instead of AOSP), I am getting different patterns (“test” becoming “komz”)
  • When searching the contacts app for “test”, my contacts containing “nwwj”, “vkjim”, “zaix0”, “komz” etc. are listed. There are no findings when searching for “nwwj”.
  • Opening such a contact shows a contact with a different (!) gibberish name (for example “izgg” for “nwwj”) and no contact info (no phone number etc.)
  • In the phone app, when using the number dial, the contacts are only found when their gibberish code is dialled (“6995” for “nwwj”). They can’t be called from here.
  • When using the top search bar, entering “test” again lists “nwwj”, “vkjim”, etc. Contacts can be called and show the proper name during the call.
  • Before I deleted the contacts database, contacts sometimes behaved “normal”. They could usually be edited, but only when finding them from the search bar in the phone app.
  • Also before deleting the database, calling a contact from the number dial would call a completely unrelated contact.

Some more facts:

  • Existing contacts are showed correctly, but are not editable anymore.
  • Renaming existing (until now well-behaving) contacts causes the same problems.
  • Deleting the contact database didn’t help. Even when creating new contacts in an empty (reset) contact database, the gibberish occurs.
  • Contact editing works from external apps like WhatsApp and Threema.
  • I am running FP Open 17.12.1.

Any hints or ideas are welcome.

Just a question: on which language is your keyboard

AOSP is usually English (UK), German (Swiss), Italian or Alphabet (QWERTY), although I have others installed. They don’t make any difference. With a Welsh (org.troi.literatim) or an IPA keyboard (com.edwardgreve.ipakeyboard) I get different gibberish (interestingly, the same for both).

What happens if you use the google keyboard?

I never had any gapps installed on my phone, but I was curious myself and installed it. Turns out it gives me the exact same results as the aosp keyboard.

I don’t think it has anything to do with the keyboard directly, and neither seems a corrupt database to be a problem (otherwise deleting it should solve the issue, or shouldn’t it?). It has to be an encoding problem, but where would that go wrong? How could e.g. installing a non-latin keyboard without root access (the ipa keyboard was installed shortly before the problem first occurred, though uninstalling didn’t help) change the way the contacts database is encoded?

Is clearing the cache of the phone an option? You have to make a backup first.

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I think this is officially the strangest issue ever encountered on a Fairphone.
Please try the #troubleshooting guide’s chapter 3: “Troubleshooting unknown issues”, especially 3.1 “Wiping away software issues”.


Well, I’m slightly proud to hear that from an expert, even though I have no idea how I managed to catch it :slight_smile:

No, seriously, thank you both for your inputs. I will try a system cache reset when I’m having the time and will report back to you about the result.

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Well, after a system cache wipe, I reimported my contacts before doing anything else. Creating new contacts made no problem, but there were four gibberish contacts in my backup. Strangely, they showed the same (gibberish) name in the list and when opened, but when I tried to edit them, they showed the real names. So the behaviour is still there, but at the moment only for these for contacts.

That leaves me insecure whether it would be advised to do a full factory reset. (Last time the problem also occurred only occasionally at first but became more and more severe over time.) I think I want to search the vcf file for those four contacts and see whether I can find anything suspicious. I will keep you updated!

What if you recreate these for contacts?

Happy new year!:fireworks:

Looks like I’m fine now.

The four remaining gibberish contacts were easy to fix. They looked like

FN:Test Neu

and changing the FN-name adjusted the N-Name. The more time-consuming issue was that about 50 of my contacts had a copy of a random other contact’s phone number in them, which would explain why sometimes a random contact was being dialled instead of the one I wanted to call. Deleting the additional numbers took some time, but now it looks all nice and clean again.

Thank you both again for your help and patience with my wordy attempts to describe a pretty unpredictable phenomenon.

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