AT&T, Samsung And The “Sleep Of Death”

Updated with AT&T’s response

I have been an AT&T wireless customer for a long time. We have three phones on a family plan, two with data. We shell out a few thousand dollars a year to AT&T.

My phone is a Samsung Galaxy S2. It is a phone I’ve written about and really enjoy having.

Not now. Now I’m pissed.

Before Christmas AT&T sent out a software update. These are normally bug fixes and upgrades. It’s a way to make the phone better.

AT&T’s implementation of Android 4.0.4 broke the phone! I now suffer from a problem dubbed the “Sleep of Death.” Here’s the conversation from other unhappy campers on AT&T’s forum. It currently has 381 messages spread across 13 pages!

Randomly, while the screen is off and the phone ‘resting’, my AT&T Galaxy S2 locks up. Something very CPU intensive is taking place while the phone is incommunicado, because when you discover the problem the case is hot, the battery greatly depleted.

For me it happens four or five times a week. Some folks claim it happens three or four times a day.

There is no way to know you’ve suffered this fate until you go to use the phone and find it dead to-the-world. There’s no notice anyone’s sent a text or called! Texts will be received after a a reboot, but incoming call details are lost.

If you’re someone who calls a number and doesn’t leave voicemail, I might never know you contacted me.

AT&T’s update caused this problem. They know about it and acknowledge it. In fact JamieH posted this in AT&T’s customer forum:

Hey guys…

Great news

We worked with Samsung to research this issue and a fix will be available in the coming weeks. I don’t have any specific dates just yet but as soon as I do, I’ll post them here.

I want to note that this is a direct result of you discussing this issue in the forums and telling us what you are seeing. Great job.

That was January 23rd, 44 days ago. Six weeks plus is too long for a problem like this to fester! A later post from an AT&T Community Manager changed “coming weeks” to “soon.”

Because of coverage where I live, AT&T is my only totally viable option.

AT&T gets deservedly bad marks on many customer related concerns. Add this to the list of unacceptable behavior.

I thought you’d want to know.


AT&T responded via Twitter

@attcustomercare: @geofffox Waiting for Samsung to release update for us to release to our cust. No exact ETA. Check link periodically:

I responded to them

@geofffox: @ATTCustomerCare AT&T could pressure Samsung on its customers behalf or roll back this upgrade. Instead, it’s my problem, not yours.

12 thoughts on “AT&T, Samsung And The “Sleep Of Death””

  1. Geoff,

    I have a Galaxy III and it pushed an update for Jelly Bean to my phone. It killed my phone! DOA. Samsung acknowledged it was their fault not mine. I had to send it back and get another. I had insurance on it so I was lucky. Problem is these pushes to the phones are not reliable and when your without a phone for a few days it affects your life. I will be upgrading next time back to a reliable new iPhone. I had the iphone for 3 years and it is still working. Update after update never affected it. I like my android phone but they are cheap plastic made devices and they just break to often. AT&T owns me.

  2. Have you given Net 10 a try? Yeah, it’s a pre-paid, but they do have Android phones and the unlimited monthly price is right. I get full service most places and at least some service just about everywhere else. I even have a bar or two in the “boonies” of the NW corner of the state, where there is “no or limited service,” according to the coverage map.

    1. Switching carriers right now isn’t a good option. It would seem AT&T should step up to correct this, not me.

  3. My 1st 2 years on a smartphone (as opposed to plain cell) were with Android. I just started a new 2-year stint and decided to try IPhone (I haven’t used ANY Apple product since my IIe some 25 years ago). The IPhone software is way, way more stable than Android. You feel the difference right away, and that difference doesn’t change as updates come and go, and you install, and uninstall apps. I now see why over 3/4 of the planet use IPhone.

    1. Android software has come a long way in 2 years. In addition to the software you have to take into account the quality of the android device you buy. If you buy a cheap android device you can expect it to be unstable. Manufacturers overlay their own software which changes the look and operation of the phone. This can cause the phones to be slow and buggy. If you are going to compare android to ios you should at least compare it using a pure google device like the nexus 4. Any nexus device is pure google software with no manufacturer’s skin on it. The software updates come directly from google similar to apple’s ios software pushes.

  4. Hi Geoff

    I was on AT&T for roughly a year and had nothing but problems with their customer service so I switch back to Sprint which I’ve had for 12 years. Some of the plans are not the best but they make up of for it in customer service. I got the IPhone this past year and so far had no problems. What you experienced with AT&T is no different then mine which is why I left earlier then the contract expire. My husband demand them to release us from the contract because of poor service which they did. I don’t know he did it but let’s say when he wants something he asks nice at first then the pit bull comes out if they give him a hard time.

  5. I don’t have a cell phone but I had ATT for my landline until a couple of years ago. By the end I detested them (and if there was a stronger word to use that isn’t banned on television I’d use any number in various combinations to describe my feelings more accurately). I get regular mailings from them with new promotions but I will NEVER go back to AT&T phone service (or any OTHER service). I don’t care how big you get, bad customer service will kill you in the end. You need customers to drive your business. They seem to have forgotten that.
    Sorry you’re having trouble. Have you thought of contacting Samsung directly? They might be more helpful.

    1. Please consider posting a link to this on your Facebook wall or Tweeting the link. AT&T probably responds to publicity.

  6. Geoff, have you considered installing a custom ROM? Not sure if you are rooted but you may want to consider doing that until they issue an update. It will most likely eliminate your issue until the issue is addressed.

  7. David is correct. At this point w/ the s2 (old gen hardware) your best bet is to unlock/root and flash a new rom. Phone companies have a horrible tendency to disregard their prior years phones after they release their newest model.

    After using every iphone iteration I decided to try out androids the last and a half. The lack of updates on my galaxy s3 and htc one x was a deal breaker for me. I actually preferred my galaxy nexus which was not as top of the line as the newest phone but had great support directly from google. As soon as the nexus 4 came out I switched to it and have been happy ever since. Not to mention you can buy it directly from unlocked/no contract for $299/$349 depending on storage.

    Just my 2 cents. If you have any questions feel free to email me , id be glad to help.

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