Category Archives: Phones & Tablets

Smartphones and home cordless phones


Google will replace your Broken Nexus 5, free of charge!

I recently heard that Google has begun replacing broken Nexus 5s, completely free of charge.  Believe it or not, they will even replace one with a smashed screen.  Apparently, this isn’t an official policy, but the Google Play Store representatives can do this for you under their own discretion.  So be nice and respectful :-).

I’ve had good luck with my Nexus 5, except that it developed a significant GPS problem a few months ago.  The GPS has been inaccurate, and losing connection often.  It’s been frustrating and dangerous to use it for navigation.

So I called for a replacement.  Note:  this only works if you are the original owner, and you bought the phone directly from Google (via the Google Play Store) within the one year warranty period.  And this is a US replacement policy, I’m not sure if it applies to other countries.

Here’s how it works:

  • Google will send a refurbished replacement phone,  “reconditioned to strict factory standards and like-new condition”
  • Once you receive the replacement phone, you have 7 days to return the broken device.   Google provides a UPS shipping label that you print and attach to the box.
  • You keep your original charger, and other accessories.  The only thing Google sends is a bare phone, and the only thing you return to them is the bare phone.
  • This is completely free, Google covers everything, including shipping the new device to you, and the old phone back to Google
  • Your credit card will be authorized for the full price of the phone and shipping, but it will not be charged as long as you return your old device.

I requested my replacement, and it was very simple and painless.  My replacement Nexus 5 is on the way.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Call Google Play support at (855) 836-3987.  Go through the phone options for Android devices, warranty issues.
  2. The representative asked for the phone’s IMEI number.  You find this under Settings –> About Phone –> Status –> IMEI
  3. The representative looked up my IMEI number, and after a minute or so they asked to verify my address.  After that, they explained the return process.
  4. After finishing this conversation (~5 minutes), I got an email from googleplay-support, with a a custom link to  order an exact replacement for my phone – which happens to be a 32GB black model.
  5. I clicked on the order link, chose my address and payment method (remember it’s only authorizing, not charging you), and that was it.

I’m now waiting for the replacement to arrive.  This is outstanding customer support.  Great job Google.

Migrate everything (apps and data) from one Android phone to another using TWRP Recovery

Here I describe a method to migrate an Android phone ROM from one phone to another phone of exactly the same model.  Don’t try this unless you have two phones of the same exact model.

One common reason to do this – if your phone is damaged (screen cracked), and you want to transfer all of your apps, settings, history, etc. to a new phone.  This is an easy way to pick up right where you left off with a new phone.


  • Teamwork Recovery (TWRP).  If you have this, you probably have a rooted phone with a custom ROM, and you know what you’re doing.  If you don’t have this, then this tutorial isn’t for you.

Here are the process steps in a nutshell:

  1. you create a backup of the ROM from your old phone
  2. copy the ROM backup from your old phone to your PC
  3. then copy it from your PC to your new phone
  4. flash the backup onto your new phone

The process isn’t quite as straightforward as it sounds though.  Details below.

Step 1: Back up the old phone

First, you make a copy of the ROM from the original phone.  You will be using this copy to flash onto your new phone.   It is very easy to create a backup using TWRP.  Unfortunately, by default, TWRP sets restrictive permissions on the backup files so that you can’t easily copy them to your PC.  So

  1. Reboot into Recovery.   The process varies for each phone.  One way to do this for the Samsung Galaxy S3 is to power down, then press the home , volume-up and power buttons at the same time to turn the phone on.  From the main TWRP screen, select Backup.
  2. On the next screen, you will see that Boot, System and Data are checked by default.  Leave these defaults as-is, and Swipe to Back Up.  This will take several minutes, as ALL the files on your phone are backed up.  When it’s done, you will have a button that says “Reboot System”.  Don’t press this yet.
  3. Press the soft home button (bottom left of your screen).  Choose Advanced, then File Manager.  Inside File Manager, navigate to the /data/media/TWRP/BACKUPS directory.   You will find another directory here with 8 alphanumeric characters.  Select it.
  4. Now you will see one or more directories.  If you only have one backup, there will be only one directory.  If you have multiple directories try to figure out which one you just made based on the date and time in the directory name.   TWRP typically doesn’t know the real date and time, so if you look at the current time that TWRP thinks it is, you can figure out which directory corresponds to the backup you just made.  Select it.
  5. Now, you need to change the permissions of every file in this directory.  there are probably between 7-9 files you need to do this for.  Select each file one by one, and then select chmod 755, then Swipe to Confirm.
  6. After changing permissions on all files in your backup directory, select the soft Home button (bottom left) and then select Reboot, then System.

Now you have a backup ready to copy to your PC.

Step 2:  Copy your Backup to your PC

This step is simple.  Connect your phone to your PC via a USB cable.  Browse to the \Phone\TWRP\BACKUPS directory, find your backup folder, and copy the entire folder to a location on your PC.   Browse to the \Phone\TWRP\BACKUPS directory from your PC, and copy the “old phone” backup you made in step 1 from your PC to the phone.

Step 3:  Copy the Backup from PC to your new phone

This step is a bit more complicated than you would think.  First, you need to make a simple backup with the new phone.  This ensures the directory you will be copying to is set up properly.   So here are the steps:

  1. Boot your new phone into recovery.
  2. Select Backup, then check only Boot (uncheck System and Data), then Swipe to Back Up.   This creates sets up your BACKUPS directory, and creates a small ~10MB backup.
  3. Select the soft Home button and then Reboot, then System.
  4. After the new phone fully boots, connect it to your PC via USB.  Browse to \Phone\TWRP\BACKUPS and copy “old phone” backup files to the backup directory that you just created.

Step 4:  Restore the backup to your new phone

  1. Reboot the new phone into Recovery.
  2. Select Wipe from the main menu.
  3. Swipe to Factory Reset.  This doesn’t take long.
  4. Hi the Back Button twice to get to the main menu.
  5. Select Restore.
  6. Find the directory you copied from your PC.   Select it and leave everything checked (Boot, Data and System).  Swipe to Restore.    This will take several minutes, as all of the phone’s files are restored.
  7. Once restore finishes, do not reboot yet.  Select the soft Home button (lower left) to return to the main screen.
  8. Select Wipe, then Advanced Wipe, then select Dalvik Cache and cache, then Swipe to Wipe.
  9. Select the soft Home button (lower left), then Reboot, then System.  Your phone will reboot, and after an initialization process, it should work exactly like your old phone.

Install ADB, fastboot, and other Android tools for Windows without installing the SDK

imageDownloading and installing the entire Android SDK is overkill if all you want to do is run ADB, fastboot, or other SDK tools.  You can download the attached ZIP file, unzip it to an easy to remember location, and just run the tools from your command prompt – no installation needed.

Android SDK tools (11.4MB)

Note:  This is a directory snapshot from the 4.2.2 SDK.  It includes the latest security enhanced ADB, which is required if you want to use ADB with a 4.2.2 device or later.  So you will need this latest version if you have an older version of the SDK installed.

If you don’t see your device after typing “adb devices”, then you’re probably lacking the proper USB ADB driver for your device.  You could Google to find the proper USB driver for your device.  But a much better solution is to use a Universal ADB (Android Debug Bridge) Driver for Windows, developed by Koushik Dutta in April 2013.  Just click here to download and install the driver – it will work for most all reasonably popular Android devices.