Google Nexus S Search Button Bug Still Plaguing Canadians

Some customers are facing issues with their Nexus S and many users, as well as I, have experienced it since the beginning.

Continue after the break to find out more.

The collaboration of Samsung and Google has fathered some great products such as the Nexus series of smartphones. However this division of production can also cause a split between responsibility, where Google’s lies on the software side and Samsung’s on the hardware.

Ever since the initial release of the Nexus S here in Canada, on April 14, 2011, it seems there has been an underlying issue that has been overshadowed by all the media buzz and consumer focus on what’s to come next. Thus resulting in neglect for prior devices and without an initial investigation there cannot be a clear understanding of the total amount of affected users.

The issue in question is the Nexus S’ search button firing off on its own discretion, virtually rendering the device unusable until either the device locks up, or the user takes some action. This *bug* has been plaguing my personal Nexus S device for quite some time now. There has been a lot of buzz on this subject over on the Google forums, but a resolution has yet to be provided and many customers are now giving up hope.

The initial incident was reported by a disgruntled customer on April 20, 2011 (take a look below).

Mlackie (4/20/2011):

“I have a nexus s running 2.3.3 and I will be using it normally and all of a sudden it will start a voice search without reason but, it opens and closes it really fast for as long as it wants. It only stops when I lock the phone and it does it in all my apps.” The user goes further to ask for help from the Google team. Soon after many users join in his despair depicting the same symptoms and sharing their tribulations.

A Google employee named Paul was slow to respond to these issues and has yet since provided a fix to the ever growing list of affected users.

 Paul Google Employee (5/6/2011):

Sorry Mlackie, I should have posted back sooner. Thanks everyone for these continuing details on your reports. They’ll be helpful to our investigation.

At this point many customers have flooded in reporting the exact same issue and even taking measures into their own hands in contacting Samsung for repairs or returning the device to their respective dealers. This may be a difficult bug to prove, as the issue is frequently experienced in areas with low signal. Whether it is close to the subway stations, on the subway cars, on or near elevators, and any place where you could potentially see a drop in cell signal, the search button is sure to execute its ‘death loop’.

Paul Google Employee (6/20/2011):

Hi everyone,

Despite madness123′s speculation that I’m on vacation using an iPhone, I can assure you that I’m still here and using a Nexus S. :-)

As far as the Voice Actions (or other softkey buttons) firing on their own, I don’t have an update yet for when it will be sent out. I know those of you experiencing this problem are hoping for a fix soon. We have to finish testing the fix and coordinate sending it out; I’ll post another update when I know more.

Paul Google Employee (7/6/2011):

Hi everyone,

I’m sorry I don’t have another update for you yet, but we are still working on this. madness123 I saw your questions a page or so back and wanted to address them:

Are you telling us that every 3g Nexus S phone out there is affected by this issue? And there is only one hardware configuration? So even if we were to return the phone for a new one, or buy a new one, or send for repair, we would still be affected? As far as I know, not all Nexus S 3G phones are affected by this. I’m not a hardware guy so I don’t know the technical reasons why.

Do you think 1 month since identifying the cause of this issue, is a reasonable time frame to get a fix? considering Google does have some of the best, and arguably *the best* engineers in the world? We’d prefer it if the bug wasn’t there in the first place. It does take some time to identify the problem, design a fix, test that design, and then deploy the fix and the time it takes to do that varies from problem to problem. We’re sorry this is taking a while and we wish it was faster.

If we are not to return the phones to Samsung for hardware repair, do you have a ‘higher up’ contact at Google, or a complaint process to follow other than this blog, since clearly you are the only one at Google on this blog who seems to give a crap? We all care about this problem. I’m a Community Manager for Google’s mobile products so that’s why you’re seeing me comment here in this forum, but plenty of other people at Google are in the loop and working on this.

It has yet to be determined whether the issue can be corrected through a mere software update or an issue is caused by a hardware malfunction. Until this can be identified, the correct parties cannot be held accountable and engaged. One user has provided an interesting fix but this requires you to root the Nexus S device (we do not recommend this if you wish to have a valid warranty).

tumorboy76 (7/25/11):

This is an update to my earlier posts…

I have flashed CM7 and disabled the search button altogether which works splendidly. I then did some research and finding instructions (on xda) on how to flash my radio from from the UCKD1 to the KB3 version and reset my search button to the “normal” function.

My search button hadn’t ghost fired for over a week…until last night. It acted all wonky for about 5 mins, and now hasn’t done anything in the past 24 hours.

So in conclusion, CM7 definitely improved my “Google Experience” by allowing me to turn off the search button. Turning on my search button and flashing radio version.

While rooting and flashing ROMs may be one solution to this issue it is definitely not the best solution. I have gathered possible solutions from the forums and other sites may help some users’ search button bug.

  1. The easiest temporary ‘fix’ is the tried and true engaging of the lock screen. If your device begins starting up with the search button, throw the lock screen on for a moment and this should stop the seemingly endless loop. Once you turn it back on it should have stopped if not rinse and repeat.
  1. Get out of the low signal area you are currently in. It’s simple, for me especially, my Nexus S only begins the ‘search button death loop’ when I enter low signal areas.
  1. Tighten the screws found on the back of the Nexus S device. There are 6 screws which can be found under the cover of your device. Tightening these screws has helped some people but has not helped mine. 
  1. Send your Nexus S in for replacement as soon as the issue is apparent to you. Try sourcing the forum link here: Google Forum-Nexus S 
  1. Root the device (you may brick your device if done incorrectly), install a custom ROM, and flash the radio to KB3. ***YOU WILL VOID YOUR WARRANTY IF YOU TAKE THIS STEP***

When looking for your device online, note that the Nexus S devices found at Rogers, Telus, and Bell are the I920a model.

The issue seems to be only affecting a certain few consumers, however there may be more that haven’t expressed their issues. It is sad to see such a great phone devalued by an annoying bug such as this and I do hope we will see a fix to come soon.

Additional Links:

xda developers forum

Google forum

About Serge Ohanian

My interests have always included gaming, computers, and keeping up with innovations of all technologies. So I started a blog with my close friends who share the same interests. Techfibe.
This entry was posted in Devices, Industry News, Smartphones and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Google Nexus S Search Button Bug Still Plaguing Canadians

  1. Matt says:

    There is an app in the market called nexus s search bug that helps with the symptoms of this bug

    • But.... says:

      …but it costs a dollar. too bad the dev thought it would be fun to collect a dollar from everyone already having nexus s pains. Especially for an app that will not be needed once the problem is solved.

  2. Senk says:

    I have not noticed any correlation between signal strength and the search bug occuring on my Nexus S.

    • sulfobus says:

      Neither have I. I’ve the same problem but with the Home-button (exactly the same symptoms: sudden bursts of short and long press of the button) and I sometimes get it while on 2G only and in flight mode.

      I rooted my device and tried ButtonRemapper (free on xda forums) but it didn’t work for me. I have a US version Nexus S with 2.3.4 stock.

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