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Here's what to do if the power button on your Android phone breaks

Posted: , by Nick T.

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Here's what to do if the power button on your Android phone breaks
Gadgets break. They all do sooner or later, and smartphones are no exception. As a matter of fact, phones can be exceptionally fragile – often a drop or two onto something harder than a carpet are enough to render them useless or severely damaged. But even if a phone is never dropped, it might still fail at some point. You know, like when its power button stops functioning – when your phone is fine, but you just can't wake it up from standby. 

Clearly, the case isn't as bad with phones that have a physical home button, such as the great majority of Samsung's Android handsets. The home key can also be used to wake up the phone. Phones that can be turned on with a double tap on the screen are also fine. But Android handsets that lack the latter feature and have capacitive or on-screen navigation keys become as functional as a potato once their power button stops working. Still, there are a few things that can be done to remedy the situation.

Step 1: Wake up your phone


There are several ways to wake up an Android phone from standby without relying on its power key. One is to have someone call you – in most cases, this will turn on the screen and give you control over your handset. Once the phone is on, you can proceed to step two. Alternatively, plug your phone into a charger. This will turn the screen on and let you access your phone. If your phone has a physical camera button, hold it down. This should launch your camera app, which you can simply close in order to use the other features of your phone. 

NOTE: If your power key is stuck as if it is constantly pressed down, give your phone a nice shake without banging it against anything hard and hope that it becomes unstuck. Avoid having your phone shut down completely for whatever reason because you won't be able to turn it back on without a working power button.

Okay! Now that your phone is on and working, you can substitute the power key's function with one of these apps.

Step 2: The apps


Power Button to Volume Button is an app that does exactly what its name implies – it allows your volume button to turn your screen on. It does not require root access and it should be compatible with most Android smartphones. 

To use the app, you must first enable it and give it administrator privileges when asked to do so. These take effect after the phone is rebooted so allow it to reset. The app should start working within a minute or so. From now on, when the volume button is pressed, it will turn your screen on. To turn it back off, you press the "Turn off screen" button, which should now be present in your notification panel. Your volume buttons should work normally, controlling your phone's volume, while its screen is on. 

Power Button to Volume Button is free and has no annoying ads so you can use it as much as you want to. It has one huge downside, however – your phone may experience a serious battery drain if it is running a newer Android version. There's no workaround for the issue, according to the developer. 


Gravity Unlock is another app that might help in the case of a broken power button. It uses the phone's sensors to determine its orientation, and when it detects that you're holding your phone, it turns its screen on automatically. If the phone is placed on a flat surface or put back in a pocket, its screen gets turned off. Almost like magic!

While Gravity Unlock works fine most of the time, its accuracy may vary from one phone to another. Some handsets have very precise orientation and proximity sensors, others might not be as accurate. It is advisable to do some tweaking with the app's settings in order to get better results. You may increase or decrease the sensors' sensitivity levels. The angles at which the screen gets turned off or on can be modified as well. 

According to the developer, you should not be experiencing any serious battery drains with Gravity Unlock enabled, but it will still have some impact on your battery life. The app's configuration may also affect the amount of power it consumes. 


Proximity Actions is an app that uses your phone's proximity sensor to trigger specific actions. For those not familiar, the proximity sensor is located next to your phone's earpiece. It is what tells a phone to turn its screen off when it is against your cheek during a call. 

To use Proximity Actions, open it and go to Hold Actions > When screen is off. This will give you a list of commands that can be performed, including waking up your phone. Choose it in the "Hold 1" slot. From now on, if you hold your finger over your proximity sensor, your phone will vibrate in a second or two. This is your cue to remove your finger. Your screen should now turn itself on. If you want to turn your screen off the same way, enable the same command in the "When screen is on" setting.

Keep in mind that most lower-end phones don't have a proximity sensor, which makes them incompatible with this app. Also, Proximity Sensors displays advertisements every once in a while, but that's more or less a given with free apps nowadays.


And if all else fails, here's Shake Screen On Off. It is easy to figure out that the apps turns your screen on or off when you give your phone a nice shake. The software reads data from the proximity sensor as well in order to prevent accidental unlocks – when your phone is in your pocket, for example. 

Shake Screen On Off is free, and the developer promises that it won't take a toll on your device's battery life. It displays advertisements, however, but hey, devs need to make money too, don't they? The paid version of the app removes the ads and allows the application to run at startup, sparing you from the effort of turning it on manually.






Step 3: Seek a permanent fix


The solutions we just went over are temporary fixes, not permanent ones. You should consult with your carrier or with the store where you purchased your phone from and find out what your options are – whether you can get a replacement or have your unit serviced. Or if you're a DIY kind of person, feel free to check if Ifixit has a teardown of your model and if repairing it is easy. A power button spare part should cost no more than a few bucks on eBay. Just don't forget that opening your phone will void its warranty, if it has one. 

So, do you have any alternative solutions to recommend? What would you do if your phone's power button stops working? Let us know down in the comments!

More of our Android How-To posts:


21 Comments
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posted on 31 Aug 2014, 06:25 10

1. Anshulonweb (Posts: 368; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)


Hmmm.... interesting and useful....

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:35

13. techperson211 (Posts: 711; Member since: 27 Feb 2014)


Very helpful . Thumbs up!

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 06:34 2

2. vipervoid123 (Posts: 138; Member since: 27 Aug 2013)


2nd solution will work ~

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 06:50

3. Astoni (Posts: 573; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)


seen on on iphone 3gs and 4 but never ever on any other phone strangely :p

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 06:52 1

4. josephnero (Posts: 325; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)


Anything similar for Windowsphone? i have power button problem on my Lumia 520.
any help would be greatly appreciated

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 07:04 1

6. NokiaFTW (Posts: 2058; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)


You can enable tap to unlock feature to remedy that problem.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 07:38 1

8. josephnero (Posts: 325; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)


How can i enable it?do i need latest update?thanks

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 07:47 1

9. NokiaFTW (Posts: 2058; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)


If you have Lumia Black update or anything above that, you can enable it. You need to just enter Settings and then go to Touch and enable the feature. :)

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 07:52 1

11. LetsBeHonest (Posts: 1029; Member since: 04 Jun 2013)


You'll need at least Nokia Black update to enable this feature. Then you'll find 'double tap to wake' option under touch settings. If you didn't find touch option under settings menu then just manually download it from store . Here is the link,
http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/touch/bbc57c87-46af-4c2c-824e-ac8104cceb38

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 06:55 2

5. LetsBeHonest (Posts: 1029; Member since: 04 Jun 2013)


Very useful indeed. Do the same article w WP too. Right now I'm having some issues with r of my Lumia, sometimes i had to press so hard to turn on the device. So i changed lock screen time out to 30sec and 'Double tap to wake' function will wake the phone up.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 07:08 1

7. techspace (Posts: 779; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


I Always use the proximity sensor to unlock the phone (via gravity unlock) but I am not sure if it's okay to have it on all the time for months(Or years).

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 07:47 1

10. Dee79 (Posts: 94; Member since: 19 Jun 2014)


Or buy a new button from ebay and replace it :/

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 08:14

12. ishan.heru (Posts: 57; Member since: 31 Aug 2014)


For windows phone it is double tap to wake up and if u want to lock the phone download the software "One Touch LockScreen" from the store for windows phone. !!

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 09:34

14. Planterz (Posts: 1110; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


Best "Sunday How To" article in a while.

Another option, for those that root and install custom ROMs (and have a popular enough device that there's enough development), is to flash a custom kernel that allows dt2w and/or s2w. Dt2w is double-tap-to-wake, just like on some LG and Sony and some other flagships, and s2w is sweep-to-wake, where you just slide your thumb/finger from left to right across the screen and it wakes up. Then you double tap the status bar sweep right to left across the nav buttons to sleep. The benefit of these options is since they're kernel based, battery drain is less than with the other options (but still probably 1-2%/hr).

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:22

15. sip1995 (Posts: 958; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)


I'll download them when I get the Asus memo pad 7...

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:47

16. master-mkk (Posts: 23; Member since: 27 Aug 2014)


or just fix the dam thing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:54 1

18. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5955; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


If there are no repair options that are worthwhile, it is time to get a new phone. Especially when carriers are closing out last years flagship for $1.

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 10:50

17. fzacek (Posts: 2233; Member since: 26 Jan 2014)


I disassembled my Nexus 5 to make the power button stiffer a while ago. The power button was rattling and it was really annoying, but opening up the phone and getting to the power button wasn't too hard...

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 14:25 1

19. kubbur (Posts: 1; Member since: 31 Aug 2014)


But how do you turn on a phone with a broken power button

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 22:16

20. a_tumiwa (Posts: 301; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)


some phones is automatically ON when u charge (for example BB10 and Nokia Lumia and some Android) , but otherwise u cannot do anything :(

posted on 31 Aug 2014, 22:40

21. a_tumiwa (Posts: 301; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)


Just tried Gravity Unlock, love it!!
screen off when put on table, screen off when put inside pocket, screen on when put up phone from table, screen on when move 10 degree on table ... etc

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