The frozen compass problem on my Droid Razr Maxx is been resolved!
(NOTE: This known compass problem is documented in other threads in this forum, such as: My Compass is Frozen, but I wanted to make sure that this potential compass solution was documented at the highest level).
My call to Verizon - After a lengthy discussion with Verizon Level 2 Tech support yesterday, and his subsequent call to Motorola Tech support, I learned that Motorola is claiming that they are completely unaware of any compass problems with the Razr or Razr Maxx smartphones. The Verizon engineer was initially also unaware of any compass issues, but after he did some research understood that there is a whole population of Razr and Razr Maxx users afflicted with this problem. Bottom line: Verizon tech authorized a warranty replacement for my Razr Maxx. I thanked him, but told him that I wanted to do some more testing before I requested my replacement phone.
Testing Hypothesis - To confirm that it is a magnetic field sensor problem, and not a firmware or app problem.
Facts - Using the Phone Tester app, my Magnetic Field Sensor values were: X=-1159.9 uT (Never changes...same value ALL THE TIME), Y=30.5 uT (constantly changing slightly); and Z=-640.8 UT (constantly changing all the time). The fact that the X coordinate was constant after forced reboot indicated there was a problem with the sensor. The other values, Y and Z were also highly suspected of being wrong, but they were at least changing.
(WARNING: What I’m about to describe is a process using a magnet that can potentially be destructive to any electronic device, especially smartphones. Continue at your own risk.)
Testing Methodology - Since my belief was that my magnetic sensor was frozen, my plan was to introduce a high magnetic field around my phone to see if I could change my frozen Magnetic Field Sensor X coordinate and possibly cause enough magnitism to unfreeze the Magnetic Field Sensor. To do this, I used a small high-power neodymium magnet. (http://www.magnet4less.com/product_info.php?cPath=1_11&products_id=1032)(magnet BrMax: 14200 gauss)
Testing Procedure -
- Power off the phone. Remove the External microSD Card. Power on phone and open the Phone Tester app. Click on the sensor status. At this point, the status of the Accelerometer, Compass, Magnetic Field Sensor, Proximity Sensor, and Light Sensor values are present. We are interested in the Magnetic Field Sensor X coordinate (mine was fixed at: X= -1159.9 uT).
- Lay the phone flat on the counter. Using my cylindrical neodymium magnet (1/8 in. x 1/2 in.), I slowly moved the magnet towards the left side of the phone trying to change the value of the X coordinate. Then I reversed the magnet poles and repeated. Some fluctuation of the X Coordinate was noted. Then I repeated it again, this time slowing moving the magnet toward the top of the phone. This is where I started seeing the X Coordinate values really start to change. I did the same exercise on the right side and bottom of the phone. The magnet was never moved any closer than 2 in. from the phone.
- At this point, the Magnetic Field Sensor X, Y and Z values were all fluctuating. The X Coordinate was now responding. The magnet successfully made the magnetic field sensor start to work again. Now my magnetic field sensor values are functioning normally: X= 19.2 uT; Y=6.5 uT; and Z=-43.2 uT. To me, this validated that this was indeed a sensor problem and not an OS or app issue.
- To verify my success, I opened my Compass app and the compass was pointing to North. In the Google Maps and Navigation apps, the blue pointer arrow was again functioning pointing to the direction that the phone was facing. Google Maps and Star Chart were working again. All GPS apps (GPS Status, c:geo, etc. were now working again. Every app that is mentioned in the Motorola Forum that depends on a functioning compass should now work.
- Turn off phone, reinstall external SDCard, and reboot. Reverify that compass works - IT DOES...Success!
For me, this was a huge success as it meant that I didn’t have to replace my Droid Razr Maxx phone. Hopefully, there are others that can fix their phone, but as I mentioned before, this procedure is potentially very, very risky, so if you decide to do this, have a warranty replacement approved, just in case things don’t work out as planned. Good Luck! BTW, this same procedure may also apply to the DROID RAZR smartphones.