The Inevitable

My humblest apologies for the lateness of this post. Sadly, my beloved smartphone passed away last night, and I’m in the throes of grief. Ah, Nexus 5X, we hardly knew you.

Well, okay, considering that I’d had the phone since April of 2016, I’d say I knew it pretty darn well. So did you all, for that matter, since 99% of the photos I post are taken with my phone. And I wasn’t spending (much) time weeping and wailing; I was trying to revive it.

The fatal disease in this case is the so-called “boot loop,” in which the device gets partway through booting, then starts over or shuts down–mine fell into the latter group. It’s a known hardware problem with the 5X. Apparently some component unsolders itself from its circuit board. And in retrospect, I probably should have seen this coming. The phone has been having increasing difficulty connecting to Wi-Fi for the past few months–which some websites suggest is a related issue–and the constant attempts to reconnect raise the phone’s temperature, which hastens the major component failure.

I have to give kudos to both Google and LG (the actual makers of the phone) for their handling of the situation. The Project Fi customer service representative had me do one simple test to confirm the problem, then told me that LG had extended warranty coverage to all devices that fail this way, so there would be no cost for a repair, not even shipping.

He then conferenced in an LG customer service representative and introduced us before dropping off the call. She was equally polite and efficient, confirming that the repair would be done under warranty and would take about two weeks. It took her longer to get my address into the computer than everything else combined*.

* To be fair, the address problem was not the rep’s fault, nor, really, was it LG’s. Blame the US Post Service. My zip code is shared between two cities. Companies that auto-populate the city based on the zip code using the official USPS database always get it wrong, and usually have to fight to override the default.

I’m currently waiting for LG to email me the FedEx shipping label; that should come today, I was told, but may take a little longer than usual because of the address override. Fine. What’s a day or so in a two-week process?

Because, really, two weeks without a phone? Inconceivable!

The Google rep suggested that if I have an old phone, I could temporarily activate it with Fi, but I’m not sure that’s feasible, since my previous phone was with Sprint, which didn’t use SIMs at the time. But I’ll try, because why not?

But I’m not counting on it working, so I’ve ordered a new phone. Yeah, I know. Bad timing: Google is widely expected to introduce the Pixel 3 series in October. But let’s face it, about 95% of my phone time is either listening to baseball games, sending email, or taking pictures of cats. And the Pixel 2 camera are still widely regarded as among the best phone cameras available. It’ll be a major upgrade over the 5X camera, certainly. And spreading the payments across two years makes it more or less affordable.

In the worst case scenario, if the Pixel 3 series renders the 2 series totally obsolete, well, I’ve got a phone that’s a major step up for what I do. By the time it’s paid off, I can trade it in for a Pixel 5 (which obsoleted the Pixel 4 that made the Pixel 3 look like trash).

If you believe Google’s estimate, the new phone could arrive as soon as tomorrow or as late as Monday. Four days is a hell of a lot easier to face than two weeks. With a bit of luck, next Friday’s cat post will feature photos taken with the new phone.

So why am I getting the phone repaired if I’m buying a new one? That Google rep again. He pointed out that the trade-in value of a working 5X is almost double that of a dead one and that I’ve got thirty days–four weeks, twice as long as the repair should require–to send in the old phone. Logical and helpful. Thank you, Google Support Guy!

Or, heck, I may keep it around as an emergency backup. Maggie has a 5X, after all. It probably won’t drop dead–it seems to be from a newer production run which may not have the same unsoldering issue–but keeping the old phone would provide a little peace of mind.

Rest in peace, Nexus 5X, secure in the knowledge that your resurrection is pending.

4 thoughts on “The Inevitable

  1. Hi Casey

    My Nexus 5X passed away on the same day as yours suffering from boot loop symptom as well after faithfully serving me for 2.5 years. Perhaps, we can have a joint wake for them.

    At its last moment, I was reading on Google News app. Everything went slow & unresponsive, so I decided to reboot. Unfortunately, it never came back again.

    It too experienced wi-fi connection issue lately, and I often had to reboot for wi-fi to work again. I thought reboot would help again with its sluggishness this time, but alas, I supposed that was its last breath.

    BTW, I wasn’t aware of Nexus 5X boot loop issue until mine suffered the same which I then googled, and found out there was even a class action lawsuit against LG about the issue months ago.

    After failing to resuscitate mine for a day with the various tips from Internet I googled, I mourned and bought a refurbished Nexus 5X online, which will arrive next week.

    Smart phone is no longer an optional accessory – it’s a life necessity nowadays. Sadly, life without phone is filled with anxiety.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I will too contact Google support as you did. Hopefully, LG will resurrect it soon, so that I at least have a backup phone while I’m overseas in a month.

    P.S. I plan to wait & see what Pixel 3 will be before commit to Pixel 2, hence I went for the refurbished Nexus 5X as stopgap.

    H

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    • Though they never met, clearly our Nexii were soulmates.

      Did yours have the persistent failure to connect to wi-fi when Nougat came out in August ’16? Mine did, and I’m wondering if that was related to the bootloop failures. Maggie’s 5X didn’t have that problem, so maybe she’s bootloop-immune.

      I thought about getting another 5X, but I’m always suspicious of refurb gear. Doesn’t mean I won’t get it or use it–my Nexus 9 is a refurb, and I suppose my 5X will be as well once LG is done with it–but it just didn’t seem like the right approach here. As you say, a phone is a necessity these days, and I couldn’t bring myself to put that much trust in a device that had already failed once.

      Good luck with Google and LG! I shipped my 5X off yesterday. And my Pixel 2 (actually 2 XL) is supposed to arrive today. Should be a fun weekend, getting it set up the way I want it–and getting used to the new form factor.

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      • My Nexus 5X wi-fi connection problem was more recent, in the past 6 months or so. I didn’t pay attention if it occurred right after a particular OS upgrade or security patch update.

        FYI, not sure if this is related, just something crossed my mind.

        I encountered SMS send problem while roaming internationally with my Nexus 5X more than a year ago. I’m on T-Mobile network, so I got free roaming SMS texting in most Europe & Asia countries. I typically set my Nexus 5X to airplane mode after boarding and reverted when I landed.

        After switching out of airplane mode in one of my trips more a year ago, I could receive SMS texts on my Nexus 5X but couldn’t send. I found out later I needed to restart my Nexus 5X. Same happened to a few more trips albeit not all trips, and restart always solved SMS send problem.

        I think each Nexus 5X has different life span before succumb to boot loop. Other owners reported theirs had the problem shortly after a year or so.

        Yet, mine blissfully lasted for 2.5 years before suffering from the same fate. Maggie’s is certainly luckier than ours. Perhaps it depends on the phone usage, recharge, drop, abuse, etc. Perhaps, we didn’t tell our Nexuses how much we loved them often enough like Maggie has done.

        I prefer new phone too. I bought my retired Nexus S & Nexus 4 as well as my departed Nexus 5X brand new. Nexus phones had always been priced in the affordable range, unlike Pixel phones due to them packed with high-end specs.

        I probably would have gone for new Pixel 2 (not 2XL as I need one that can fit in my pocket) if my Nexus 5X demise were much earlier. Since Pixel 3 will likely be available in a few more months assuming Google keeps the tradition, I just need a refurbished one as stopgap until then.

        A refurbished can be a trade-in instead of repaired. Given boot loop is due to hardware problem, if the refurbished one I just bought had previously suffered from boot loop, the hardware problem might have been fixed as part of refurbishing, and freed it from any future boot loop.

        Anyway, I would be happy as long as it lasts till I got my hand on a spanking new Pixel 3, or a price-drop new Pixel 2.

        I know I’m treating my 2nd Nexus 5X like a step-phone, but I’ll love it equally. Nevertheless, it knows it is no longer the hot new one on the block and it will eventually be replaced by something hot & new.

        BTW, did LG provide you a paid shipping label, or did you ship at your own expense?

        H

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        • The big problem with refurbs is that there’s no good way to be sure why it was turned in. Sure, if it’s gotten the fix for the bootloop problem, you’re probably good. But if not, it could drop dead the day after it arrives.

          Though, realistically, it should hold up until the Pixel 3s come out. If Google sticks to their usual pattern, that should be in October. The odds are in your favor.

          Hopefully the rumors about a low-end Pixel 3 are correct. The 5X was–and is–such a nice balance between power and price. It would be nice to see Google get back to that vibe, if only in part.

          And yes, LG paid for the shipping. I got an email with a printable label, an authorization to access the phone that had to be signed and included in the box, and instructions for what else to throw in there.

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