I'm considering unlocking the bootloader on my Verizon Galaxy S3 (SCH-I535). However, a guide I was reading made this statement:

Once you have unlocked your phone’s bootloader using this app, you must not receive any over-the-air (OTA) updates or via Samsung Kies. Doing so will result in bricking your phone.

I understand that bricking a phone means rendering it unusable, but does this also mean unrecoverable? When a phone is "bricked", does that mean it is virtually impossible to restore it to a working state?

I'm a little concerned about the risk if that is the case.


2 Answers 2


The term "brick" usually refers to the stone, which means: "device can only be used as paper-weight". Taken literally, there's no way to "unbrick".


However, you also find terms like "hard-brick" and "soft-brick" used, which makes the term "brick" less absolute: A soft-brick is something you easily can recover from (count it as a "temporary paper-weight"), mostly by software-based solutions (e.g. re-flash your phone) -- while a "hard-brick" is rather meant in the way the original term points to.

Still, technically spoken, even a "hard-bricked" device could be "unbricked" -- but mostly this is more expensive then getting a new device.

As for the warranty declaration you quoted: For a normal user, it's almost impossible to (hard-) brick his device. Even when flashing a custom ROM, this can rarely happen, as there are many security-layers involved. Almost always you can boot your device into some fall-back mode where it is at least recognized by some "flashing software", so you could simply flash another/the original firmware back. Which means, the risk you are taking is to "soft-brick" your device1. A "hard-brick" is quite unlikely with "normal operations" like rooting or flashing custom ROMs.

See also:

1 I just learned: "Unless you've got a Samsung device and used the software recommended by Samsung". So better don't use Kies etc., but rather Odin, just to give an example.

  • 1
    Upvoted for the info. Wished I could upvote another time for the pic of the brick. :-D
    – Sparx
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 14:56
  • Great answer. @Sparx I upvoted for you on the brick.
    – Lorraine W
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 15:52
  • Ultimate answer.. Ha..Ha..
    – iOS
    Commented Apr 21, 2013 at 11:37
  • My xperia c is not giving any response on pressing any combinations of keys. I installed Z2 rom in it. After successful installation, it hasn't reboot. It is showing a response only when connected to charger or PC via usb cable and that is the display of a RED LIGHT and nothing else. Does it means it is hard bricked? Suggest me what to do..
    – Choxx
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 19:02
  • @choxx if it were "hard bricked", it would show no response at all usually. For deeper insight and solving your issue, I however recommend asking a separate issue – and give a few more details (what you did that might have led to the issue). If it is detected by your PC, you could e.g. flash a different ROM (the ROM might be unfit for your device). You could also check whether it's possible to boot into recovery/bootloader/safe-mode (include results with your question then). // Ah, I see you've already done that :)
    – Izzy
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 9:10

Brick is a much-hyped word that gets bandied about without understanding what it is.

There's two types of brick, hard and soft. Let's go through this to make the distinction clearer.

  • Hard - this is where the handset will absolutely refuse to boot at the press of the power button.
    Diagnostics: Dead screen, no power. That is the symptom of a hard brick.
    Reason: This can happen by inadvertently pulling the cable when flashing a ROM or even an update via the handset's supporting software such as Samsung Kies, Sony's PC Companion Suite etc. That is the worst case, that is why in this scenario, always, make, sure that no cable gets pulled unless told so by the supporting software in question. The other way is this, flashing in that manner when the battery power is low. Hence for that reason, it is recommended to have at least 75% of battery power in place prior to doing the update in that fashion. It's known as hard-brick, and requires specialist cables and stripping the device down to the circuitry board to revive it via JTAG cables.
  • Soft - this can happen through a bad flashing of the ROM in which yields the following.
    Diagnostics: it has power when the power button is pressed, and/or, the screen comes on.
    Reason: It can be a user error on this part. For example, failing to clear/wipe the data/cache, can cause Android to go into a bootloop because of the mismatches with the Android's virtual machine and the apps installed, or more than likely, a corrupted dalvik cache. The other, is flashing a ROM that is not designated for the handset which can cause the kernel to go into a bootloop. This is generally easier to fix, but hangs, that is known as a soft-brick.

With those two separate forms of brick, it is generally speaking, a scaremongering tactic.

The one pure simple reason why carriers do not recommend unlocking the boot-loader, is not just for the warranty. It's more down to the fact, if the handset ever gets stolen, then unlocking the bootloader will wipe everything, and reinitialize the handset to factory state, thereby all your contacts, call logs, messages and apps gets wiped cleanly. Also, this is to reduce the amount of support in the carriers, with people calling in or ringing up the technical support, "What happened with my handset - I did something and lost my contacts?"

Just to finish off this answer, you can revert it back, by relocking the bootloader at a later stage if you wish, that is in the event the hardware got damaged and hand it back in for repairs.

  • Great information, and I'm glad to hear that I can relock my bootloader if need be.
    – Eric
    Commented Sep 21, 2012 at 21:18
  • That said, you also can un-root (even easier as relock I'd say). But I doubt you'll ever feel like it -- unless in a case of warranty, of course :)
    – Izzy
    Commented Sep 21, 2012 at 21:37
  • My xperia c is not giving any response on pressing any combinations of keys. I installed Z2 rom in it. After successful installation, it hasn't reboot. It is showing a response only when connected to charger or PC via usb cable and that is the display of a RED LIGHT and nothing else. Does it means it is hard bricked?
    – Choxx
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 19:01
  • @choxx oh dear, you flashed a Z2 rom ( for Sony Xperia Z2 ) on a Xperia C, that rom is not compatible right? You have checked and confirmed this? In any case, sounds like a soft brick, try reverting back, but this time, USE a specific rom designated for Xperia C in your case.
    – t0mm13b
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 23:23

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