To visit a smartphone repair centre is to receive an object lesson in technological expertise.
These repair centres are populated by (often depressingly youthful) people who can conduct advanced system checks within seconds being handed a device.
These Android diagnostic checks are often used to identify technical faults, such as motherboard decay or worn port sockets.
Yet these procedures don’t involve oaths of secrecy, or a four-year university degree.
With a little technical knowledge, we can all run Android diagnostic checks on our smartphones from the comfort of our armchairs.
These are some of the tricks you might want to know about…
Identifying your phone
Every handset has a unique International Mobile Equipment Identity number, abbreviated to IMEI.
It’s used by police forces to identify stolen-recovered devices, as well as by third-party platforms to perform warranty checks and provide data about the carrier or country of origin.
Find your IMEI number by typing *#06# into the keypad, and note down the resulting 15-digit number for future reference.
Conducting manufacturer device checks
Many manufacturers offer built-in diagnostic programs, which test features like the microphone, accelerometer, touchscreen responsiveness and online ping tests.
Each manufacturer has a different access code, again entered using the phone’s dial pad. The screen will display a graphics-free menu where different functionalities can be tested.
On Samsung Galaxy phones, the magic character string is *#0*#. On Motorola phones, it’s the rather less intuitive *#*#4636#*#*.
Built-in diagnostic equipment
The bowels of the Android operating system contain a variety of utilities and information, which can be accessed through Settings.
The Device Maintenance menu tests everything from the battery to security levels, before making recommendations about ways to free up space or optimise performance.
Adjusting Performance Mode performs a similar role to overclocking the CPU for smoother gameplay, while cleaning the device memory hibernates unproductive background apps.
Install third-party diagnostic software
The Google Play store contains a number of useful programs which support interactive tests and possible resolutions to particular problems.
For instance, the TestM app is free to install. It performs Android diagnostic checks on everything from a phone’s screen and cameras to its sensors and network connectivity.
Other apps include Phone Doctor Plus, Phone Check (and Test) and Repair System Android.
And if none of the above works…
If you believe your Android smartphone has an issue that hasn’t been uncovered with diagnostic testing, we’d recommend handing it over to a specialist.
Before doing so, ensure your personal data is backed up onto the cloud or saved onto SIM/SD cards, since diagnostic testing often begins with a full factory reset.
This effectively restores your phone to as-new condition, deleting everything on it.
Some manufacturers offer Smart Restore functionality, saving everything from cookies to bookmarks to the cloud, ready to be reinstalled later.
Logging into your Google account should also restore certain settings and apps, providing you’ve retained the same phone number.