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Published: 2014-01-22 - 02:10:58
Home Theater : Ask The Expert

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Won't Charge or Turn On - How to Fix?

By Chris Boylan

We get a fair amount of questions from readers about how to solve perplexing problems with electronic gear: HDTV set-up issues, Netflix error messages, cable and configuration problems, you name it, we've seen it. But this time our question came from an unlikely source: my eight-year-old daughter:

"Daddy, why won't the new tablet you bought me for Christmas turn on?" Uh, oh!

The tablet in question was a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, 7-inch version.  Overall, it's a great tablet: responsive, quick, nice image quality, full access to the Google Play Store (unlike Kindles), Bluetooth keyboard *and* Bluetooth mouse support and expandable storage via the microSD slot. This last bit is important if you want to keep local copies of music or movies (e.g., not rely on the Cloud) for mobile media entertainment.

Also, the inclusion of an IR (InfraRed) port on the Galaxy Tab 3, and the remote app allows you to turn your tablet into a full-fledged touch screen home theater controller at no additional cost. For a gadget freak, this is pretty cool. Overall, the fast processor, expandable storage, relatively low price, and wide breadth of application support make the Tab 3 an excellent choice for a 7-inch tablet. But try telling that to an eight-year-old who can't get her shiny new tablet to power up after only a day of use, and a full night on the charger.

THE PROBLEM

Although this manifests in different ways for different people, the symptom we saw was that the Galaxy Tab 3 just stayed dark: black screen, no LED lights, nothing.  Attempting to charge it from the wall charger or from the PC USB cable had no effect at all. Pressing the power button or home button also had no effect.

After verifying the problem, I used the mighty Google to find all kinds of helpful suggestions, all of which I dutifully tried:

  • Hold the power button for 10 seconds, 30 seconds or 60 seconds (no joy)
  • Hold the power button and volume up button down together for 10 to 30 seconds (again, nope)
  • Hold the power button, home button and volume up button. Still, NOPE!
  • Try a trickle charge - plug the Tab 3 into a computer via the USB cable instead of the wall charger hoping that the lower amp charge from the computer would fool the tablet into charging its (apparently) dead battery. Again (at least for me) - FAIL!
UPDATE: One of our readers (Chad Kent) suggested the following non-invasive solution which worked for him and some others as well (Thanks, Chad):
  • Remove microSD card from its slot and then hold the power and volume up buttons for 20 seconds. Release and press power button again.

Also, several users have reported that aftermarket OEM USB cables and chargers do not always work with the Samsung tablets.  We'd recommend always using the original Samsung factory charger and cable, particularly if you are having charging problems.

Feel free to try any or all of the above as they are completely non-invasive and they might work for you.

None of thse worked for me so I gave up, sent the unit back to Samsung and (about two weeks later), received a replacement, this one the yellow kids' version of the Tab 3. All was well in the world. My daughter had her tablet back, with "Dragon City," "Plants vs. Zombies 2," "Minecraft" and all that other "educational" fare. Until... about a week later... it happened again. "Daddy, I can't turn my tablet on again." Doh!

I tried the above solutions again, and again, no luck. Would I have to send this one back to Samsung again, or just ditch it and go with an iPad mini? Maybe I should dig a little deeper...

HOW TO REALLY FIX THE POWER UP PROBLEM

What did work for me, I found deep in one of the Android user discussion forums and it's consistent with how I solve the problem of the occasional runaway application on my Samsung Galaxy phone. Apparently if you disconnect and reconnect the battery, then plug the unit back into its factory wall charger, you'll convince the tablet to wake up and try charging the battery again. Less than a minute after doing this and reconnecting the charger, I saw the battery icon appear on the screen, and the unit began charging normally. Success! The only bad news about this is that it's not as simple as removing the back of a Galaxy phone. In fact, it's possible that attempting this will void your warranty, so proceed with caution!

Getting the back off the Galaxy Tab 3 requires gently prying the edges away from the screen in the little crack between the screen and the case all around the perimeter of the screen. Doing this properly requires a thin plastic pry tool and some patience. I used a small jack knife, but would not recommend it as the metal can scratch the case or even potentially cause a short inside the unit if you're not careful. We have had readers write in to say guitar picks and old credit cards also can be used. By all means, be careful and DON'T FORCE IT! Work the pry tool around the edges until the screen separates from the back casing by itself without any force.

samsung-galaxy-tab-3-batter.jpg
Gently pry the battery connector away from its port and reconnect it by pushing it back into place (photo courtesy of YouTube user "JerryRigEverything" - view linked video for details).

Once you've removed the back, gently separate the battery connector from its port by prying it toward you, then push it back down into place. Since originally writing this article, I've had to do this trick a few more times, and in some cases, I've had to leave the battery disconnected for over a minutes in order for this to work. If a quick disconnect/reconnect of the battery does not work, then try leaving the battery disconnected for a full two minutes before reconnecting it. Replace the cover by gently placing the tablet back down into its shell and pushing along the perimeter, snapping all the pressure tabs back into place.

There's an excellent video of this on YouTube by a user called, "JerryRigEverything" - it's embedded below so you can see how to do this. The only part you need to watch is the first one minute and 15 seconds to see how the cover comes off and how to separate the battery leads from the motherboard. You do not need to physically remove the battery or remove the screws that hold it in place to detach the battery connector from the motherboard.

Once you've put it all back together, plug the tablet into the factory wall charger and USB cable. Within about a minute you should see the battery icon appear and normal charging should begin. Be sure to use the original Samsung charging cable and wall charger. We've heard many reports of aftermarket USB cables and chargers not working as well, particularly in the case of charging problems like this.

Hopefully Samsung will figure out what's causing this as I've seen many discussions from people having this exact same problem and I'm sure it has led to a significant number of irate customers and returned products. Depleting a battery all the way down to where it shuts down the device is never a good idea, but it shouldn't effectively "brick" the unit and require minor surgery to get yourself (or your 8-year-old daughter) back in business.

If this helps you get your Galaxy Tab 3 back up and running (or doesn't!), please let us know in the comments.

Keep those cards and letters coming! if you have a question for one of our home theater experts, shoot us an e-mail to "Ask The Expert." We'll select among these for future installments in this column. Due to the volume of requests we receive, we cannot reply to each question personally.

What do you think?

View all articles by Chris Boylan