Bringing back a dead Nokia N8

Oh noooo…!

So…there I was this morning…looking in disbelief at a pitch black screen. Where only the evening before brilliant colours had shined into the living room, keeping me up to date with the latest mails, tweets, weather and gossip, there was now nothingness. My loved Nokia N8 cell phone (we call them GSM over here) had gone were apparently those of many other early owners had gone before: completely dead.

The symptoms: nothing peculiar the night before really, the battery must have been nearly full before I switched the external power off and let the N8 doze through the night on it’s battery, waiting for its Master to wake up again the following morning. Sometime during that night the Gremlins must have gotten hold of it and did their nasty things. They killed it. No way it could be turned on again, and with the charger plugged into the 2mm  charging port the tiny light next to the USB port didn’t even light up, so it wasn’t even charging.

Help…what to do next? Sinking into despair and letting go of all hope seemed appropriate and tempting, but I decided that wouldn’t do any good either. So I started planning to bring this N8 corpse to the nearest Nokia Care Centre and have them replace it. Very inconvenient, to put it mildly. I had so hoped to take my N8 and its 12mp HD camera to Sri Lanka and India in a couple of weeks time.

While Googling the problem did give me some comfort in knowing I’m not the only N8 owner on this neat little planet with a dead phone, it did not yield much even resembling a solution. One remark though, something about the charging port being the culprit, got me thinking. Hail to you who made that remark! So….if the bottom charging port is not good any more, does the same count for the USB port? That port charges the battery too when connected to, say, my laptop. can’t hurt to give it a try, it’s dead anyway. So I connected the ex-N8 with the small USB cable to my laptop..and Lo! and Behold, after a couple of seconds the little white light next to the USB port woke up. It’s not dead, there’s still some life in the old…well young really, girl!

It only took a couple of seconds charging over the USB port before I disconnected the USB cable again, and tried the 2mm charging port again. That now worked too. Excitement galore! The screen too came to life again with a bright white light. I felt like a wonder doctor, my fingers must be magic! Self confidence restored I immediately tried to switch the N8 back on…and it did. Relief…

That’s when I noticed the battery was actually flat empty. Or not, but the phone certainly *thought* it was! While charging a while the battery status kept saying it was nearly empty, only after I disconnected the charger did it show its real percentage.

And here’s what I *think* has happened to the unfortunate N8. Mind you, I’m not saying it’s the same with all dead N8’s around the world, I even doubt it because despite me being a clever fellow I can’t imagine no one else has been able to bring their N8 back to live like this. If yours is dead, at least give this a try. Maybe you’re lucky. And if not, please don’t shoot me for giving you any false hope… Anyway, what the ^%$#@&% happened to my N8 for it to die on me? I *think* this sums it up nicely:

  • There’s a hardware issue with the N8, certainly the early production models, we all know that. Nokia has acknowledged this, although they have sort of downplayed the magnitude of the problem. For what I understand is that the problem lies somewhere with the 2mm charging port.
  • This port somehow “freezes”, it gets into a state where it will no longer charge the phone. At first this sound like a software problem to me but it must be more hardware related, otherwise Nokia would have surely patched it with a firmware update instead of having to take back all those dead N8’s.
  • When or after it freezes, either the battery quickly drains empty or it tricks the phone into thinking there is 0 power. It certainly can’t be a normal power drain, my N8 couldn’t have fully gone flat while idling for a single night. Anyway, tricked or not, it could explain why the phone is totally dead in the morning: no battery power and no external power because the charging port is freezed up.
  • Plugging in USB power kicks the piece of hardware controlling the 2mm charger port back to life again. It sort of gets reset I guess. After that you can either continue charging with the USB cable, or go back to external charger.
  • The battery, really empty or not, takes its time before showing 100% again.

So there you go. Problem fixed? I keep my fingers crossed! Hoping that it never happens again, and when it does that the reanimation works the same. And I’ll take an older phone with me to Sri Lanka as a spare. And the USB cable so I can jump-start my N8 back to live with someone else’s laptop, should the need arise…

Hoping…this is a case closed. If not…well…it got me through the day 😉

Cheers,
Marco