Sunday, 4 January 2015

Having Problem with Your Phone's GPS? Follow These Steps!

[If you are unable to access this site in the past weeks, it is because I have closed it in mourning of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, departed on 23rd March 2015.]

[Note: Kindle version of my book: "Basis of Singaporean Spirit - People Power" is now available here. I am setting it at a very low price of $2.99. Get it early as I will increase the price along the way. I have also enabled "Lending". For those who have purchased the book, I have set this to be free for you.]

[Updates: The book is also available in Google Play / Google Books. Follow the link given or you can simply search for "Basis Of Singaporean Spirit".]

I was having problem with my phone's GPS for the past few months. Felt like throwing my phone away. Well, lucky for me, finally got it resolved!

Therefore, this post is a compilation of what I did and my suggestions to you to avoid all the troubles!

There are various methods that people employed, so I am going to list them here, from the least invasive to the most, summarised as 3 simple steps.

Note that the phone mentioned here is Samsung Galaxy Note 3. What really worked for me is fixing the connection to the GPS Antenna, which is the last step.

1) Rebuild the Code - Using NV Rebuild
This method basically instructs the phone to recompile the code. The steps are:

Access The Menu (for Samsung Note 3)
if doesn't work, enter *#197328640#

Activate the Menu
Menu Key, select Key Input, enter Q
Menu Key, select Key Input, enter 0000
wait some seconds...

Select the Rebuild Menu Item
click UMTS > Common > NV Rebuild > NV Rebuild > System, Protocol, GPS, IMS

Restart Phone

The following is the full video.

Well, it worked for some people, but it didn't work for me.

There are also talks about doing a factory reset, well, I would avoid that because it doesn't seem to work well for most people, worst, as the name implies, it reset your phone!

If you think doing a backup and restore would be enough, well, too bad, it doesn't restore your phone to the original state, i.e. some of your application status and configurations will be lost, worst, some of your game status will be lost too! My Bluetooth profile was also lost too. (This is at least true when you are using Samsung Kies 3 to backup and restore).

2) Tighten All the Screws Behind the Phone
The basis of this step is that your screws might be loose, which resulted in the components losing contacts.

For me, at least, it allowed my phone to be able to detect a few GPS satellites and occasionally getting a Location Fix. However, the signal was unstable and it kept dropping. I was not able to use any navigation software at all.

Be careful when tightening the screws. You need to make sure you have the right screw driver in order not the destroy the screwthreads.

3) Improve the Connection of GPS Antenna to the Motherboard
The basis of this method is to make sure that your phone's motherboard is connected securely to the GPS Antenna.

In most phones (at least for most Samsung's), all the antennas are embedded in the phone back cover and the connections to those are using components that looks like a "7". The problem with this component is that it is not as 'springy' as a spring and it tends to stay in its shape after being depressed for a long time. Of course, if you have dropped your phone, it might have been depressed even further, thus losing contact with the GPS antenna.

This is how that connector looks like.

Notice the 2 metal pieces, with gold colour on one end? These are the connectors located on the motherboard to connect to your GPS antenna that is located on the back cover of your phone.

Therefore, sometimes tightening the screws at the back of your phone improves the GPS because it increases the contact.

On Samsung Note 3, those 2 connectors for the GPS antenna are located on the top right corner of the phone (on the right of the camera).

To improve the connection, all you need to do is to use your screwdriver and slightly bend the connectors upwards (be gentle and careful).

The following video shows you the details.

Of course, if you are a curious person like me, you will noticed that there are many other such connectors on the motherboard. Those correspond to WIFI, bluetooth, etc. So which is which? Well, who cares?

If you are a Kiasu* person, then do what I did, bend all those connectors upwards, which means all your antenna signals will all be improved! I used to have only 1 signal bar for WIFI when using my phone in the toilet, after doing this, I now have 2 bars! [100% increased! Ha!]

If you are interested to know more on the antennas, take a look at this video.

What really worked for me is this last step. Now, I can get a GPS lock within 5 seconds. Signal level can go as high as 35 and accuracy as good as 10 feet (Using GPS Test tool). Many of my GPS satellites are now in green colour.

[Screenshot of GPS Test, Captured on Note 3]

I hope you have enjoyed this post. Good luck!

Lastly, thanks to the Internet and all the great people for sharing the info. BTW, I was being quoted 300 bucks to fix the GPS by replacing the motherboard! The sales person was simply too greedy, if he had told me to replace the GPS antenna and charge lesser than 100, I would have accepted it. What really pissed me off was that one of the screws was deliberately left loose!

Well, what can I expect of service people and their company? At least this incident highlights that the basis of service centre is to earn money, not to service you.

Anyway, lucky for me, I ended up fixing it myself for only 4.95 - the price to get a set of mobile phone screw drivers.

* Kiasu - A Singapore term which literally means: "Afraid to Lose out". Therefore, in order not to lose out and to play safe, the person will tend to do more that necessary - just in case. 


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  2. Thank you so much. It's work for me.