Samsung confirms screen-rotation problem with some Galaxy S6 Edge phones

Users urged to call Samsung support line; problem cropped up on first day of sales April 10

01 samsung galaxy s6 edge2

Samsung acknowledged late Tuesday a screen rotation problem on a "very limited" number of Galaxy S6 Edge devices, which went on sale April 10.

The company said a solution is already available, but didn't disclose whether it is related to the device's hardware or software or both.

In a statement issued by email to Computerworld, a Samsung spokeswoman said: "Samsung is aware of an issue affecting screen rotation on a very limited number of Galaxy S6 Edge devices and a solution is already available. Owners who believe their device may be affected should call 1-800-SAMSUNG for support."

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge onboard diagnostic screen in landscape mode Matt Hamblen

This shows how the onboard diagnostic screen should rotate into landscape mode -- unlike the faulty units.

The problem cropped up on the first day that Edge sales began 12 days ago. Dozens of users reported last week and this week on various online forums that photos they had taken with the phone and many apps would not rotate into landscape (horizontal) mode and were stuck in portrait (vertical) mode.

Some users said they returned the faulty Edge devices to the wireless carrier retail stores to get another Edge device, then found the auto-rotate problem cropped up, again, on the new phone.

The issue has also been reported on Edge devices on carriers outside the U.S., including New Zealand and Hong Kong. One user, Leon Chan, claimed on Android Forums on April 17 to have exchanged his Edge device three times due to the auto-rotation issue, but planned to get the cousin device, the regular Galaxy S6, the fourth time around. "I called Hong Kong Samsung and they seem to be unaware," he wrote several days before Samsung issued its statement acknowledging the problem.

AT&T and Sprint both referred Computerworld to Samsung for comment on the concern. T-Mobile said it hasn’t seen any auto-rotate problems with Edge devices. Verizon didn't respond to a request for comment.

Some Edge users have raised various theories about what causes the problem. One theory is that Samsung's fast-charging cord fried the chip that controls the accelerometer sensor, which affects rotation of images on the display. Another theory is that certain apps on the Edge — either third-party or pre-installed apps — have not been updated sufficiently to be compatible with recent minor Android OS updates. That lack of compatibility could somehow restrict the software controlling auto-rotation.

A Samsung technician on the 800-support line told Computerworld that users affected by the auto-rotate problem are being asked to test the faulty device by first going to "safe mode" to allow the phone to operate without third-party apps loaded by the user. If the problem persists after that test, the users are then asked to try a "hard key re-set" of the phone, which basically wipes all personal data and contacts and initiates a factory reset upon a reboot of the phone. The technician said personal data can first be stored to a remote backup location through the Samsung Kies or Samsung Smart Switch applications.

The technician didn't indicate what Samsung might do if the hard key re-set fails to fix the auto-rotate problem. A Samsung tech will walk users through the various steps required to perform the tests or Samsung can do the tests remotely.

The Samsung technician's course of action seems to indicate the problem is related to incompatible software, not hardware, but Samsung is not saying officially what the cause or the solution may be.

An Edge user named "IDOG" reported early Wednesday at Android Forums that he may have found the culprit. He said the rotation problem occurred when using the third-party Nova Launcher, but not when using TouchWiz, which is Samsung's own front-end touch interface. Nova Launcher, a third-party Android app by TeslaCoil Software, replaces a user's home screen with one that is customizable.

IDOG said Nova Launcher has so far worked fine after he uninstalled it and then re-installed it without borrowing any of the settings from his prior install of the launcher.

As a result of IDOG's field work, in theory, something as seemingly insignificant as user settings inside a third-party app could be part of Samsung's problem with some Edge screens not rotating properly.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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