Resetting Android and Windows handheld devices

We’ve all had handheld device problems. Glitches, ads popping up when you don’t even have a browser open, apps continually crashing, error messages, and turning off and not turning back on are just a few. On more than one occasion, I have been going somewhere new using Waze, Google Maps or my All Trails app and my handheld device’s screen has gone black, and the device is unresponsive. Almost all handheld devices have sealed batteries, so you can’t physically remove them to reset the handheld device. So, how do you reset something that never truly shuts down?

Soft Reset

One of the scarier issues is when a cellphone or handheld device goes completely dark and the screen will not turn back on, or the device will not power up at all. Most of us keep a close eye on battery life and know that this is not the issue, and assume the handheld device has gone  to “Electronics Heaven”. Most of the time your handheld device can recover from this, until the day that it doesn’t. This phenomena is known as the “Black Screen of Death”. The handheld device will not turn on, there is no sound, and will sometimes not even show it is plugged in or charging.

The fix for this issue is the same for Android and Apple. Hold down the power button until the handheld device starts up.

Easy, right?

Make sure to hold the button for an extra long time. It always takes longer than you expect. If you are timing it, a minute should be good. If the handheld device still does not start up, you can send it to us for repair if it is a model we support. Possible causes are usually a bad main board or power button.

Windows 10

Bluebird Mobile Data Terminals

To perform a soft reset, your handheld device needs to be turned on. Press and hold the volume down and power button until your handheld device vibrates and restarts. Do not touch the screen while you are doing this, even if the slide dialog shows on the screen.

Instances when you may need to soft reset a Windows handheld device:.

  • Apps fail to start
  • The camera will not activate
  • The unit starts to act strangely
  • The device is running down the battery or getting warmer than normal

This forces the machine to reboot, which can resolve many software related issues.

Hard reset back to factory specs.

Before doing a hard reset, be aware that this will wipe all of the data off of your handheld device except what is stored in an external card. Pictures are usually the most important things to back up on your handheld device. There are many services to backup photos that enable you to save these. Google Photos, Amazon Photos, and Microsoft OneDrive are just a few. If you have an unlimited data plan I suggest turning on the option to use cellular networks to make sure you do not lose any memories due to losing your handheld device, or a catastrophic event, like running it over with a truck. If you are using an Android device, there is a way to backup all your data to an external SD card, if your device has one.

Hard resets revert the unit back to factory defaults. This is useful to free up space, take out most viruses, reset the screen lock password, and will occasionally fix boot issues, among other things. I suggest that you check for any software updates before doing a factory reset, if the device boots up. The update could fix the problem you are having, without losing your settings and data. The software fixes can always be viewed in the changelog.

Windows 10 handheld device hard reset

The best way to reset the handheld device is through the menus, but if you cannot get the unit to boot, it is frozen on the boot screen, or is looping on the boot screen, there is a key combination you can enter to activate the reset. This key combination is the same on all Windows 10 handheld devices.

  1. Switch off the handheld device.
  2. Press and hold the Volume Down button and either connect your charger, or hold the power button. When you see activity, release the power button, if it is being held. When the exclamation mark appears release the button Volume down button.
  3. Now press the keys in the following sequence, there is a small window of time to input the key combination, so if it does not work you will need to power down the handheld device and try again: Volume Up, Volume Down, Power, Volume Down.
  4. The handheld device will reset immediately and  a picture of two gears will show up. After this completes, the handheld device will reset and you will be able to use it again.

If the handheld device is unable to get to the “!” screen or still will not start properly it can be sent to us for repairs, if it is a model we support.

Android handheld devices

If you cannot get into the menus on the handheld device to perform a factory reset, you will need to go into recovery mode . Please note, Android OS 5 (Lollipop) uses Factory Reset Protection (FRP) to lock your handheld device and data if the device is stolen. If you are going through the apps/menus, you do not need to worry about the FRP, and this is also the proper way to wipe the device, if you are giving it to someone else or selling it.. In order to reset the handheld device you will need the user’s Gmail address and password to complete the process, or the handheld device will be unusable. There are ways around this but they are difficult and not always effective.

There are many different variations of Android handheld devices with many different key combinations to get into the recovery menu. For the Bluebird EF5000s, hold down “volume down” and “left scan” when starting the unit. To find the key combination for your specific handheld device, do a web search for “recovery mode” and your handheld device model (e.g. “Pixel 2 recovery mode”). Once you get into recovery mode, the handheld devices are almost all the same. Volume keys always move the selection to the next or previous item, and the power key selects what has been selected.

  1. Enter recovery mode using the key combination for your handheld device.
  2. Turn off the handled device and use the key combination required to put it in recovery mode. (See below for common key combos)
  3. Use the Volume down button to select Factory Reset/Wipe Data and press power to select.
  4. The device will ask you to confirm.
  5. Once you have confirmed your choice, the device will reset, and the time this takes varies greatly between units.

Common handheld device key combinations:

  • Samsung Galaxy S8, S9, S10,  &Note: Power, Volume Up, Bixby key(this key on the left below the Volume Down) or on older models Home key at the bottom, if there is no Bixby key.
  • Nexus and Pixel: Power, Volume Up, Volume Down
  • LG G Series: Power, Volume Down

If a hard reset fails to fix the issue please contact us so we can provide information on how to send us your device for repair.

Thank you for reading,  Check back soon!