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How to fix Galaxy S9 “Unfortunately, phone has stopped” error [exhaustive troubleshooting guide]

There’s a slowly growing number of #GalaxyS9 users who are reporting another common bug at this time, the “Unfortunately, phone has stopped” error. To give you examples of these issues, here are two specific cases so far:

I keep getting the message “Unfortunately phone has stopped”  when i receive an incoming call the only way to clear it is to restart my phone.  If the message appears I can’t answer calls or do anything else with my phone but restart it and even that is hard to do.  The phone appears to be working fine until i get a phone call. Please help. — Lisa

Cannot accept incoming calls. When I receive an incoming call I get an error message that says “Unfortunately phone has stopped ” and when I click on ok just comes right back and it won’t allow me to do anything. Won’t even let me power my phone down. —  Shawna

Before we proceed, we want to remind you that if you are looking for solutions to your own #Android issue, you can contact us by using the link provided at the bottom of this page. When describing your issue, please be as detailed as possible so we can easily pinpoint a relevant solution. If you can, kindly include the exact error messages you are getting to give us an idea where to start. If you have already tried some troubleshooting steps before emailing us, make sure to mention them so we can skip them in our answers.

How to fix S9 “Unfortunately, phone has stopped” error

If you’re one of the unlucky ones to also experience this issue on your S9, make sure to follow our suggestions below. There’s a long list of possible reasons for “Unfortunately, phone has stopped” bug so this guide is a bit long as we try to address all potential causes.

Fix #1: Force reboot your S9

In the two cases above, both users mentioned that they find it hard to even power down their S9 once the “Unfortunately, phone has stopped” bug pops up. If you have a similar situation, we suggest that you restart the phone by simulating a “battery pull.” In older devices with removable battery packs, forcing the device to restart can be done relatively easily by taking out the battery. This is not an easily available option for the S9 so Samsung has to come up with a hardware button combination to achieve the same result. To simulate a battery pull on your S9, follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold the Power + Volume Down buttons for approximately 10 seconds or until the device power cycles. Note: Allow several seconds for the Maintenance Boot Mode screen to appear.
  2. From the Maintenance Boot Mode screen, select Normal Boot. Note: Utilize the volume buttons to cycle through the available options and the lower left button (below the volume buttons) to select. Also, allow up to 90 seconds for the reset to complete.

Fix #2: Restart Phone app

“Unfortunately, phone has stopped” error almost always has something to do with the Phone app so the next logical step to do is to deal with the app directly. You can do that by force stopping the Phone app. Restarting an app is sometimes an effective way to stop a bug from running continously. If you haven’t tried it yet, follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap Apps.
  3. Tap More settings (three-dot icon) at the upper-right.
  4. Select Show system apps.
  5. Find Phone app and tap it.
  6. Tap FORCE STOP button..
  7. Restart the phone.

Fix #3: Clear the cache of Phone and Contacts apps

Every app uses its own set of temporary files to work efficiently. This temporary files or cache gets bloated over time and may become corrupted even. To ensure that both Phone and Contacts apps (they work almost always together) are using a clean set of cache every time they operate, make sure that you do the following:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap Apps.
  3. Tap More settings (three-dot icon) at the upper-right.
  4. Tap Show system apps.
  5. Find the app and tap it.
  6. Tap Storage.
  7. Tap CLEAR CACHE button.
  8. Restart your S9.
  9. Check if the problem still exists.

Make sure that you clear the cache of both Contacts and Phone apps. This procedure won’t delete any of your personal data or contacts.

Fix #4: Clear the data of Phone and Contacts apps

Aside from using cache, each app also maintain certain set of information or data in order to work. In the case of Phone apps, data means your call logs or history, while for Contacts app, this is the list of your numbers or contacts. Deleting these data may clear the “Unfortunately, phone has stopped” bug so be sure to do it if nothing works after clearing the cache. Since clearing the data of both Phone and Contacts apps will result to deletion of pertinent information, make sure to create a backup first.

And speaking of backups, there are a couple of things that you can use. One is by using your free Samsung cloud account. You can access it under Settings > Cloud and accounts. The other is by using Samsung Smart Switch app, which you can install to your PC or Mac.

Once your backup is safe, follow the steps below to clear the data of both apps:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap Apps.
  3. Tap More settings (three-dot icon) at the upper-right.
  4. Tap Show system apps.
  5. Find the app and tap it.
  6. Tap Storage.
  7. Tap CLEAR DATA button.
  8. Restart your S9.
  9. Check if the problem still exists.

Fix #5: Refresh the system cache

When dealing with any network issue on the S9, one of the first things that you need to do is to clear the cache partition. Many network bugs are caused by a corrupted system cache so in order to minimize the chance of a system cache issue, make sure that you refresh the current one. This means that your S9 will delete the current system cache and rebuild it later one as you continue to use it. Here’s how to clear the cache partition:

  1. Turn off the device.
  2. Press and hold the Volume Up key and the Bixby key, then press and hold the Power key.
  3. When the Android logo displays, release all keys (‘Installing system update’ will show for about 30 – 60 seconds before showing the Android system recovery menu options).
  4. Press the Volume down key to highlight wipe cache partition.
  5. Press the Power key to select.
  6. Press the Volume down key to highlight “yes” and press the Power key to select.
  7. When the wipe cache partition is complete, “Reboot system now” is highlighted.
  8. Press the Power key to restart the device.

Fix #6: Reseat the SIM card

Some Android users were able to fix “Unfortunately, phone has stopped” error by removing the SIM card and re-inserting it later on. Make sure that you try it as well to see if it applies to your case.

Reseating a SIM card forces the phone to configure the network settings again so hopefully that will help clear out the bug. Here’s what you need to do exactly:

  1. Turn off the phone.
  2. Carefully remove the SIM card tray. Refer to the documentation of your device if you don’t know how to do this.
  3. Remove the SIM card and turn on the phone without the card.
  4. Check for the issue.
  5. Turn the phone back off.
  6. Reinsert the SIM card.
  7. Check for the problem again.

Fix #7: Clear some storage space

“Unfortunately, phone has stopped” bug can sometimes occur if a device is running out of storage space so if the issue still persists at this time, make sure that you have at least 500MB of storage space. Ideally, you must always have at least 1GB of free space to allow of caching, updates, and new app updates but if you are hard pressed for space, 500MB may be enough. The best way to save space on your device is to move photos and videos to the cloud or to your computer. Again, Samsung cloud and Smart Switch can be your handy tools to back them up.

Fix #8: Force stop SIM toolkit app

Another app you want to deal with directly in this case is the SIM toolkit app. This is the app responsible for managing all SIM-related activities of your device. If it doesn’t work properly, it may lead to network issues or to the error we’re trying to address in this post. Make sure that you follow the steps below to restart it:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap Apps.
  3. Tap More settings (three-dot icon) at the upper-right.
  4. Select Show system apps.
  5. Find Phone app and tap it.
  6. Tap FORCE STOP button..
  7. Restart the phone.

Fix #9: Reset network settings

If you have a CDMA phone, reseating the SIM card (even if you have one for LTE), won’t reset the device’s network settings at all. In order to accomplish the same result as reseating the SIM card, you need to go under Settings. Here’s how to do that exactly:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap General management.
  3. Tap Reset.
  4. Tap Reset network settings.
  5. Tap RESET SETTINGS button.
  6. Restart the device and check for the problem.

Fix #10: Boot to safe mode and observe

“Unfortunately, phone has stopped” bug can sometimes be caused by a bad third party app. To check if one of your downloaded apps is interfering with Android, try restarting it to safe mode. Safe mode is a software environment that’s similar to normal mode. The only difference is that it prevents third party apps and services from launching. In other words, only pre-installed apps will work. So, if the “Unfortunately, phone has stopped” error won’t occur while your S9 is on safe mode, that’s a clear sign that one of added apps is to blame.

To run safe mode on your device:

  1. Turn the device off.
  2. Press and hold the Power key past the model name screen.
  3. When “SAMSUNG” appears on the screen, release the Power key.
  4. Immediately after releasing the Power key, press and hold the Volume down key.
  5. Continue to hold the Volume down key until the device finishes restarting.
  6. Safe mode will display in the bottom left corner of the screen.
  7. Release the Volume down key when you see Safe Mode.
  8. Let your S9 run in this mode for several hours and check for the problem.

Fix #11: Reset all settings

Should the issue continue even on safe mode, it’s possible that the cause may lie on the software. To check, you want to reset all software settings back to their defaults without actually doing a full factory reset. Here’s how:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap General management.
  3. Tap Reset.
  4. Tap Reset all settings.
  5. Tap RESET SETTINGS button.
  6. Restart the phone and check for the problem.

Fix #12: Wipe the phone

Unfortunately, if the issue is still active up to this point, the final solution option for you is to factory reset your S9. Such action will erase all non-system critical apps, services, and data from the phone. It also will revert all software settings back to their factory state, which is free of “Unfortunately, phone has stopped” error. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Back up data on the internal memory. If you have signed into a Google account on the device, you have activated Anti-theft and will need your Google credentials to finish the Master reset.
  2. Turn off the device.
  3. Press and hold the Volume Up key and the Bixby key, then press and hold the Power key.
  4. When the Android logo displays, release all keys (‘Installing system update’ will show for about 30 – 60 seconds before showing the Android system recovery menu options).
  5. Press the Volume down key several times to highlight “wipe data / factory reset.
  6. Press Power button to select.
  7. Press the Volume down key until ‘Yes — delete all user data’ is highlighted.
  8. Press Power button to select and start the master reset.
  9. When the master reset is complete, “Reboot system now” is highlighted.
  10. Press the Power key to restart the device.

 


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