Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blackberry: White Screen of Death

As you know, I got my Blackberry Pearl at the beginning of the New Year. I have come to live with the memory leak, just pulling the battery every few days, and all in all, really love the phone.

Imagine my dismay when Saturday night, while minding my own business, I look down, and the phone has a white screen and the hourglass is turning round and round, as it does when it boots up. Fascinating, as I had not powered the phone down or up, nor had I removed the battery. It had done this trick all by itself. The problem was, it was never booting. It was just continuously showing the hourglass. So, I did what Bill Gates has taught us all to do, and figured I would pull the battery to reboot. Unfortunately, the white screen with the hourglass turning round and round never yielded to the familiar wallpaper background of a picture of Ben and me.

So, I called T-Mobile customer service. I was extremely impressed by first-level Blackberry customer support. I didn't have to wait till support tier 4 until I spoke to someone with a technical clue. The rep told me my phone was basically in an infinite reboot loop. The only fix was to reinstall the Blackberry operating system which would wipe the phone completely. Had I done a backup? Silly question, of course I hadn't done a backup. It's a cell phone. I've had it for 3 months. Anyway... he told me what software to download and install on the Blackberry. Unfortunately, the install failed 3/4 of the way through. We tried 6 more times, and then got the hint that it wasn't going to work. They would have to send me a new phone.

I was extremely bummed, because we all know what a pain it is to go through new phone setup. My new phone came and it already knew what Gmail account I had setup. That was promising. Everything else had to be done from scratch. Contacts could be synced from Outlook. I re-downloaded Google talk, Gmail, Google Maps and tried to put all my bells and whistles back to how I liked them.

The only problem was that IM took me to the Blackberry browser and gave me a 404 error instead of taking me to the IM client. So, I called T-Mobile support again. They told me they were having a known issue with this, but there was a work-around. She sent me an email with a link that I could click on right from my Blackberry to download software. We installed it and I was in business. That is two helpful first-tier T-Mobile Blackberry support folks. I am impressed!

The phone is almost back to how I like it. I will tell you what I have already done... that's right. I have used Blackberry Desktop Manager, and performed the first of many backups to come!


  1. I'm sorry to hear about your trouble, call it bad luck I guess.

    I've bought my Pearl about 2 months ago (thanks in part to your review) and I really like it so far. I do miss the full QWERTY keyboard from my old tank-sized Blackberry, but I don't really type enough to make it a problem.

    I had my Blackberry for about 2 weeks, was away on a business trip and dropped it in a tub of water my first day away. It was fully submersed for about 2 seconds. I immediately turned it off and fumbled to remove the battery. After letting it dry out for a few hours (probably not long enough) I was surprised and elated to find that it actually still worked! The screen was a little tie-dyed looking for a few days, but now it's back to normal.

    I have found that the smooth surface of the phone makes it especially prone to slipping out of pockets, especially that front shirt pocket. I ordered the RIM soft holster, so hopefully after that I'll stop dropping it so much.

    Mine came "preinstalled" with Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Search, but not Google Talk (I've never even used Google Talk).

  2. I've done the drop a phone in body of water thing! It was a Motorola v60 and I didn't know you were supposed to take the battery out. Boy did that thing get hot! Good to know the Pearl survived the immersion and came back to life.

  3. Ahh, the white screen thing sounds like something I skimmed past when browsing HTC Hermes/Cingular 8525 forums recently. I didn't read any of those threads, but I wonder if it's the exact same issue. You mentioned a Blackberry OS, does that mean it does not run Windows Mobile?

    Also, I dropped a cell phone in a toilet one time, several years back. I reluctantly reached in and grabbed the phone out, then proceeded to wash it in the sink with soap and water, because *eww*!

    Then I took the battery out, and when I got home that night, I took the whole thing apart, and dried every single little component.

    The next day, I googled for instructions on how to put it back together--assuming that somebody, somewhere had posted diagrams and/or instructions for [dis]assembling that phone model--and managed to get it back together with no extra parts. After giving the battery a full charge, (it was completely drained), it worked fine!

  4. You'd think with all the cell phones that we all drop in various forms of water (Dave, I would have just flushed the toilet and cut my losses), the phone manufacturers would go the way of the watchmakers and make our phones "water resistant to depths of up to 1000 ft."

  5. Shira:
    Yeah, well I didn't want to "cut my losses" for the same reason cell phone companies wouldn't want to make them water resistant. One way or another, it costs me money to replace my phone. If I damage it in water, I either have to pay to have it repaired, pay to buy a new one, or add 2 years to my service agreement to get a subsidized phone. None of those options sounded good to me. Soap and water made me feel better in the short term. And you better believe that when I put the dried-out pieces back together, I clorox-wiped the heck out of it. :)