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Android OS problems and how to fix them

These common problems have easy workarounds and fixes.
July 5, 2021
Google Pixel 5 Google logo macro
David Imel / Android Authority

If the name Android Authority isn’t enough of a giveaway, we are obviously huge fans of the Android operating system here. Fanboying aside, we have to admit that Android smartphones are far from perfect, and various issues pop up from time to time. While some are device-specific, some problems are caused by the OS itself. Here are some general problems that Android users face and potential solutions on how to fix them!

Editor’s note – We will be looking at some specific problems users face with Android 11. However, all general troubleshooting tips will work for other versions as well. The steps below may also be different and depend on your phone’s UI.

Android problem #1 — Extremely rapid battery drain

battery drain issues - Android OS problems
You’ll find users complaining about rapid battery drain with almost every smartphone. This can range from battery drain when the phone is in standby, to when certain apps are proving to be a battery hog. Keep in mind that you can expect a faster than normal battery drain in some situations. These include when using the phone for navigation, taking a lot of pictures or shooting videos, while playing games, or when setting up a phone for the first time.

Potential solutions:

  • For quite a few users, a third-party app ended up being the cause. To see if that’s the case for you, boot the device in Safe Mode (you can find the instructions on how to do so below). Charge the phone to a point above the discharge percentage. Wait for the battery to drain until it gets below that number again. If the phone works as expected with no early shutdown, an app is behind the issue. Remove recently installed apps until the problem goes away. If you can’t figure it out manually, you may need to perform a complete factory reset.
  • It could also be a hardware issue for some due to the degradation of Li-ion batteries. This is more common if the phone is more than a year old or refurbished. The only option here is to contact the device manufacturer and try and get the phone repaired or replaced.

Android problem #2 — The device doesn’t wake up when the power button is pressed

android os problems 2

The “forced sleep” bug is quite common and has been a problem for numerous devices. When the screen is off, it doesn’t wake up when the power button is pressed. Instead, users have to press and hold the power button for ten seconds and force a restart.

Potential solutions:

  • The forced restart will fix the problem, at least temporarily. However, this isn’t a long-term solution and only an upcoming software update will permanently fix this issue. There are some workarounds, though.
  • Some users have found that a screen protector, particularly of the tempered glass variety, causes the problem. Removing the screen protector helps but obviously isn’t an ideal option.
  • On some phones with this feature, enabling “Always On Display” helps fix it.
  • On Pixel phones, de-activating the Active Edge feature has proven to be a useful workaround.
  • This could also be an issue with the settings. Some phones let you change what the power button is used for and adds extra functionality, like launching the Google Assistant. Go into the device settings and make sure that everything is how it should be.

Android problem #3 — SIM card isn’t detected

File photo of SIM cards.

The SIM card isn’t being detected by the phone. Getting a replacement SIM card doesn’t help fix the problem.

Potential solutions:

  • Simply rebooting the phone has worked for some users. In most cases, though, the issue seems to go away only for a few minutes.
  • Some users have found that activating mobile data even when on a Wi-Fi connection helps fix the problem. Of course, this solution is great only for those with a good data plan, and you will have to stay on top of data usage in case the Wi-Fi connection drops. You get charged for using data, so using this workaround without a data package isn’t recommended.
  • There’s another workaround if you have a phone with an eSIM. Dial *#*#4636#*#* to open network settings. It might take a couple of attempts. Tap on Phone Information. In the network settings section, change the setting to one that works. Instead of trial and error, you can also find out what the correct option is by contacting your network carrier.

Android problem #4 — Google app causing a lot of battery drain

Google Pixel 3a Purple-ish Assistant

Some users have found that the Google app is responsible for the bulk of battery usage on their devices. This is an issue that shows up quite frequently and across a variety of phones. It seems to be an increasingly common problem with Android in recent years.

Potential solutions:

  • Go to Settings > Apps & notifications and open the list of apps. Scroll down to the Google app and tap on it. Tap on “Storage & cache” and clear both.
  • In the previous menu, tap on “Mobile data & Wi-Fi.” You can disable “background data usage” and “unrestricted data usage,” and enable “Disabled Wi-Fi” and “Disabled data usage.” This will affect app behavior, though, and the Google app and its features (like the Assistant) will not work as expected. Do these steps only if the battery drain makes the phone unusable.
  • This problem seems to come and go with software updates. So if you are facing this issue, an upcoming app update will likely fix it.

Android problem #5 — Charging cable issues

android os problems - charging cable issues
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

People face a lot of problems when it comes to the charging cables that come with a phone. This can range from slow charging speeds to not being able to transfer files from a PC and more.

Potential solutions:

  • This might just be a problem with the charging cable itself. Make sure it works by charging other phones or devices. If the cable doesn’t work with anything, you will have to get a new cable.
  • These issues are particularly prevalent with USB-C to USB-C cables. Some have found that using a USB-C to USB-A cable instead solves the problem. Of course, if you’re charger uses the former, you’ll need to get an alternate to use the latter type of cable with.
  • For quite a few users, cleaning the USB-C port seems to do the trick. Fold a business card and gently clean out the port with a sharp edge. You can also use compressed air as long as the pressure intensity isn’t too high.
  • An app could also be causing these issues. Boot the device in Safe Mode and see if the problem persists. If not, an app is creating the problem.
  • If nothing seems to work, the USB port of the phone might be damaged. The only option then is to get the device repaired or replaced.

See also: The best wall chargers – A buyer’s guide

Android problem #6 — Performance and battery issues

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Google Pixel 5 1
Adam Molina / Android Authority

If you find your phone running slowly, is laggy, or takes a long time to respond, there are a few general troubleshooting steps you can go through. A lot of the steps mentioned below can often help with battery drain issues as well. Performance and battery problems are seemingly always going to be a part of Android OS.

  • Simply restarting your phone often does the trick.
  • Make sure that the software is up to date. Go to Settings > System > Advanced > System update. Also, update all the apps you’ve downloaded from the Google Play Store.
  • Check your phone’s storage. You might start seeing some slowdown when the amount of free storage is less than 10%.
  • Check and ensure that third-party apps aren’t causing a problem by booting in Safe Mode and seeing if the problem persists.
  • If you find a lot of apps running in the background and causing problems with battery life and performance, you might need to force stop them. Go to Settings > Apps & notifications and open the list of apps. Find the app and then tap on “Force Stop.”
  • If nothing else works, performing a complete factory reset might be the only way to go.

Android problem #7 — Connectivity issues

RyFi WiFi icon next to ethernet cable

You may occasionally come across connectivity problems with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. While some devices have specific Android problems when it comes to connectivity, below are a few general steps you can try out first.

Potential solutions:

Wi-Fi issues

  • Turn the device and the router off for at least ten seconds, then turn them back on and retry the connection.
  • Go to Settings > Power saving and ensure that this option is turned off.
  • Redo the Wi-Fi connection. Go to Settings > Wi-Fi, long press on the connection name, and tap on “Forget.” Now re-enter the details and try again.
  • Make sure the Wi-Fi router firmware is up to date.
  • Make sure the applications and software on the device are up to date.
  • Go into Wi-Fi > Settings > Advanced and make a note of your device’s MAC address, then make sure that it is allowed access in the router’s MAC filter.

Bluetooth issues

  • With issues when connecting to the car, check the manufacturer’s manual for the device and the car and reset your connections.
  • Ensure that you are not missing a vital part of the connection process. Some Bluetooth devices have unique instructions.
  • Go to Settings > Bluetooth and ensure nothing needs changing.
  • Go into Settings > Bluetooth and delete all prior pairings and try setting them up again from scratch. Don’t forget to also delete any devices on this list that you no longer connect to.
  • When it comes to issues with multiple device connections, only a future update will be able to address this problem.

Guide — Rebooting to Safe Mode

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Google Pixel 5 1
Adam Molina / Android Authority

Third-party apps cause quite a few problems with the Android OS. Booting into Safe Mode is often the best way to check if this is the case. If the issue goes away, an app is causing it.

If the phone is on

  • Press and hold the device’s power button.
  • Touch and hold the power off icon. A pop-up message will ask for confirmation to reboot to Safe Mode. Tap “OK.”

If the phone is off

  • Press and hold the phone’s power button.
  • When the animation starts, press and hold the volume down button. Keep holding it until the animation ends and the phone should start in Safe Mode.

Exit Safe Mode

  • Press the phone’s power button.
  • Tap on “Restart” and the phone should automatically reboot to its regular mode.
  • You can also simply press and hold the power button for 30 seconds until the phone restarts.

That’s it for some of the most common problems Android users come across. While these solutions are somewhat generic, we have device-specific issues lists here on Android Authority as well.