Nexus 4: Red light of death

On Thursday night I used my Nexus 4 as GPS (as I always do — it’s my main navigation device, so Google, please bring back a usable navigation app pretty plx!) to drive from Brussels to Antwerp (~40 minutes).

I had about 60% of battery left when I turned on the GPS. I tend to recharge my battery every night. It’s times like these I usually just use the GPS without using the car charger. I don’t mind my phone being at 10 or 20% when I arrive home, late at night, as it will be charged overnight anyway.

Almost home, the notification of 14% battery left popped up; I dismissed it as I had 10 more minutes to go. About 5 minutes after that, my phone suddenly switched off. Like, just, suddenly black. No shutdown or anything. It caught my attention, but I left it at that.

Finally home, I quickly unpacked some stuff, checks some mails, etc, and about an hour later I headed to bed.

That’s when I took my phone and plugged it into the charger and a red led popped up. I had never seen this one before.

From there on, I was unable to turn on my phone (my entirely drained Nexus 7 has the same behaviour, it requires being plugged in for 10ish minutes before booting up). I decided to let it charge 10 minutes. Nothing. Hitting power button didn’t change a thing.

As my Roomba seemed to have had a fight with the charger cables under the bed, I thought it might have half ripped the cable or something, so I tried a USB cable and a PC: same. Another charge: same.

Fair enough, I left it charging for the right. Waking up (yes, these things kind of keep me awake — or rather, wake me up) several times during the night, I tried turning it on… but alas. And still a constant red light turned on.

I just had the latest 4.3 bis update (the 7 or 9 Mb update) like 24 or 48 hours before. And I don’t think I had rebooted the device since. Was this causing it?

I started Googling, got in touch with my seller (as it’s ridiculously expensive in Belgium, and I think when I got it, it wasn’t officially for sale here yet) and bought Skype credit (yep, didn’t have a backup phone) to call Google Play support.

Amazon told me to try to do it via Google, or it will take a “very long time” to RMA it.

Google told me to do it via Amazon as it wasn’t bought via the Play store (and send me a troubleshooter to try to “get it out of deep sleep” — but that didn’t work).

I tried several steps, including the hard reset (volume up + power for 60 seconds), but nothing helped.

As it was still under warranty, I didn’t want to really mess up too much, but I couldn’t imagine having to miss this device for another day, let alone weeks…

Drove to my parents to get a backup phone, and there we opened the device (with those odd you-are-not-supposed-to-open-this screws) and, as one post stated on XDA-dev, to unplug the battery.

The multimeter showed 0 volt on the battery (but the connector was so small we weren’t sure it quite touched the copper.

However, reconnected the battery cable and inserted the USB charger… And the screen lit up, a charging icon popped up, and no red light of death. Yay.

Let it charge for ~3 hours (the battery felt warm, but not sure if it was anomalous) and so far so good. We’ll see tomorrow whether it drains faster than usual.

Some people pointed out a product issue, either causing the battery to overdrain (which is bad) or to be too strict on it (and refusing to recharge when it’s quite safe to do so). But the battery itself could also be dying.

I have a phone mount on my dashboard, and during the summer, in full sunlight, using my GPS, and the phone being black, I noticed the back side got quite … hot… So did this cause any permanent damage?


After being fully charged, I noticed a drop of about ~10% per 60 minutes. Which seemed a lot. I let it discharge overnight, and when I woke up it was indeed entirely dead again.

Attempting to recharged caused the red light of death again. Unplugging the battery (for 5 minutes) didn’t solve the problem anymore. It seems like it’s really dead.

We managed to read the voltage with a multimeter, stating 3,15V (instead of 3.8). Unsure whether it’s the battery or the charger of the phone… Unplugging the battery and attempting to charge also causes a red light of death.

I’ll get a new battery on Monday, and do my best to swap it (apparently they glued in the battery… sigh).



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