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Phone extremely slow upon reception of images via Signal

Hi all,

When receiving images via Signal my FP2 (LOS 18.1) often (not always) won’t respond properly anymore. The vibration can be heard, then I turn on the screen to see the message. However, no notification is shown on the lock screen and the phone won’t respond to the swipe from the bottom to the top to get to the unlock screen. The screen usually switches off again after the timeout period as if I hadn’t touched the screen at all. When I want to turn on the screen again it sometimes lights up but stays black before it just turns off again. Sometimes I resolve the issue by restarting the phone (by pressing the power button I might get to the selection for shutdown/restart) or by switching it off by holding the power button very long. Sometimes I just need to wait for some minutes, then the message is displayed on the lock screen and the phone responds again. I have had the exact same behavior in LOS 17.1 already but didn’t use Signal on FPOS before, so I cannot say anything about that. In LOS 18.1 something new appeared when I turned the display on for the first time: On the lock screen I have all the symbols on top duplicated but with some offset. It looks like the lock screen and the top bar of the unlocked screen are shown at the same time.
I have searched for this behavior in the search engine of my choice but didn’t find anything about this. Other messengers, mail apps etc. have no issues showing their notifications, my phone has plenty of memory left and when I installed LOS 18.1 I wiped the internal memory, so Signal was reinstalled afterwards again.
Does anyone have such a behavior, too? Any settings that I could try?

Thanks,
Martin

I would assume that your FP2 is too busy with other tasks, or (a) storage volume(s) do not respond in time. Should you have an SD card installed, try to withdraw it and see if that helps…

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I def do not have such issues with Signal messages on on my daily driver LOS 17.1. I have 18.1 only installed in a test FP2 (i.e. not mich Apps installed) , but Signal seems to have no issues to receive messages with pictures, also I see notifications in my lock screen. I also think there is something else keeping your FP2 busy somehow.

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Thank you both for your ideas. I pretty much think that it is Signal itself that keeps my phone busy as I don’t have this behavior with any other app.
Things I’m going to check: I get most pictures in a particular group chat. I’ll watch if the issue can be isolated to that group or not. Then I’ll check if the phone drains its battery while it fights the new pictures by having an eye on the battery percentage as far as I can and of course I’ll check if it gets warm which would be a good indicator for heavy load. Signal also tells me that it is in the group of energy optimized apps which it doesn’t like. I’ll check if that makes a difference. And If the issue doesn’t get lost on that way I’ll of course check the SD card. But knowing that this issue is not a default issue on the FP2 already helps, so there must be a solution.

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Similar issue, but on Lineage OS 17.1:

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Wow, this description sounds pretty much like what I see on my phone. Thanks for sharing this.
After my last post in this thread I received new photos, so I could watch a little bit better what is going on:
-Time on the lockscreen was frozen for at least 15 minutes.
-Phone remained cool, thus no high load.
-Battery percentage didn’t decrease more than usually when idle.
But: In the same group I received another photo a few minutes later. No issues, that just worked.
I’ll watch both my phone and the issue on GitHub.

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Hi Martin
I don`t have exactly the same issues but incoming messages via Signal, if they contain photos or videos, almost always make problems on my FP2, too. Always have to wait some time till everything gets back to normal and phone is reacting again. Never happens with telegram, for example.
Greetings
Verena

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I’m not quite sure what the differences between the apk from their website and the playstore version is, but I had Signal installed and updated via Aurora Store, and I had some battery draining issues because of Signal, and I’m thinking it may be due to the fact it’s from the playstore. Wild guess probably, but worth testing their website’s apk perhaps?

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I was thinking about getting a different version of Signal, too. So I checked F-Droid without success and after your hint I checked the Signal website, too. Unfortunately all links to Signal for Android there lead me to the Play Store.
When I had the issue again recently I checked what happens when I’m called. That was very interesting because my phone still rang but it used a ringtone that I have never heard before. And the screen didn’t turn on, either, so I couldn’t accept the call, either. So it really seems like Signal has the power to completely block my phone. I should try removing the memory card just to be on the safe side there…

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Unfortunately all links to Signal for Android there lead me to the Play Store.

Here is the link: Signal >> Signal Android APK
At the bottom (“Danger zone”).

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Thanks for the link. I didn’t find that one via the website. But I have downloaded the APK and just tried to install it. The phone recognized it as an update to the existing Signal installation (so the package name seems to be identical) but refused to install in the end most likely because this version of this package name already is installed. Therefore I assume it is the same APK as in the Play Store unfortunately.
Still need to run my phone without memory card, but since I can hardly control when someone sends photos to me it’s also hard to leave the memory card away at the right time…

No, it isn’t the same apk, but it just has the same package name and same version name. But if you install it from the website, it should come without the google stuff IIRC, and maybe auto-updates. But for this you would need to uninstall Signal and download it again from the website.

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I have seen other apps that had a different package name for Play Store and non-Play Store, therefore I assumed that the same name implies that it’s the same package.
But okay, then let’s try it. The first message with picture attached was received without any issues but let’s still wait for some more to evaluate if this makes the important difference.
Edit: It doesn’t :frowning:

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Do you use microg?
Signal can work with GCM (by default) or use websocket. It depends on if the app sees GCM on your phone when you open it for the first time.
If you use microg (and everything is configured as it should), then Signal works with GCM.
I would suggest to change the mode from GCM to Websocket (or opposite) to test if there is a difference. To do so, you need to reinstall Signal. I have read (but not tried myself) that you can change the advanced settings in Signal after having changed the GCM option with microg: switch off and on again “Signal messages and calls”.

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No, I don’t. Therefore I assume that this option is out of the game?

Currently I’m testing without memory card. I had my wife sending me several photos and until now everything is fine. Still I wouldn’t trust that result yet.

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Also this option is out of the game after my phone was blocked by a picture a few minutes ago without the card. I’m not too sad about this somehow as it means that I can leave the memory card in the phone without having limitations from this.

Well, you could try the opposite. You could install microg to check if the problem still occurs when Signal uses GCM. If not, either you stick with it or at least you will have more info to submit to the bug-tracker.

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But does this make sense when GApps are installed, what I would guess is the case, as the Google Play Store is mentioned above?

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Aha, I thought Play store was only mentioned as opposite to the website’s APK, and that @Martin_Anderseck had used Aurora store.
If @Martin_Anderseck used the Play Store, then I guess that they would have GApps, you’re right, which means that the phone would use GCM.
If so, then you still could try to deactivate GCM and install the APK from Signal’s website.

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To be honest I don’t know how to disable GCM on my phone. But today I’ve learnt that this problem might be wider spread than I originally thought because my wife’s unfair Japanese phone got locked up by some photos received via Signal, too. For the same photos in the same group my phone didn’t have any problems this time btw.

I think it’s time to wrap up all findings and write them down in the issue on GitHub. Thank you all for the hints and ideas what to check!

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