Compass on Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra not working

Mar 20, 2020 6:14PM PDT

Has anyone else noticed this on their S20 phones? If you go into Google maps, will the blue dot actually show you which direction you're facing?
Mine won't, and it appears my magnetometer (the compass device inside the phone) seems to be completely unresponsive.

Discussion is locked

Reply to: Compass on Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra not working
PLEASE NOTE: Do not post advertisements, offensive materials, profanity, or personal attacks. Please remember to be considerate of other members. If you are new to the CNET Forums, please read our CNET Forums FAQ. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Reporting: Compass on Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra not working
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
- Collapse -
Time to use that warranty.
Mar 20, 2020 6:48PM PDT

Defects should be acted on fast.

- Collapse -
Agreed... if its actually a hardware issue
Mar 21, 2020 7:52AM PDT

Its so strange. If I restart my phone, the compass works perfectly! Its just, at some point in time after (anywhere from 20-mins to 1 Hour), it just goes completely unresponsive. As if the phone can't even "see" the compass anymore.

I've done this several times to test, and each time the compass works again. Then stops working at some point.

To me, this indicates a software issue (e.g. a driver issue, perhaps?), since the sensor itself consistently works properly if the phone is freshly restarted.

- Collapse -
So, just to provide an update in case anyone is interested
Mar 22, 2020 6:02AM PDT

I am beginning to trace the problem. I decided to reboot my phone in Safe Mode (thank you Samsung support for NOT recommending I do this after talking to 4 agents), just to see if that affected the functionality.

I left the phone plugged in overnight, remaining in safe mode the entire time. And wouldn't you know, the compass is still working perfectly this morning! Much longer than it has gone before. SO this all is starting to suggest a software conflict with the compass. And specifically, a piece of software I must have loaded onto the phone. This would also kind of make sense based on what I was seeing, since the compass always works for a certain time after restart. An app must be loading up in the background sometime after restart that interferes with the comms of the compass??

Since the compass is still working nearly 12 Hrs later, I am going to assume its another app I am using that is interfering.
But now my issue is... how can I determine which app, short of uninstalling each one, one at a time!? (this is no small task, since I copied over ALL apps from my previous S8, so there are quite a few).

Question to the community: is there an app which can monitor the usage and background processed of other apps over time?

If I could closely watch when the compass stops working, and then trace the background activity of the phone at the same time, that should tell me which app is interfering.

- Collapse -
Wish it was easier.
Mar 22, 2020 9:33AM PDT

For years I've had to factory reset a phone when the client said something wasn't working to show if or not it's the phone. Apps? Well that's not covered by anyone's warranty or by "free support." This can upset those that thought there was support for a phone, PC or such as they loaded it up.

As to tracing background activity that would be, as of today, you as a programmer to find and install apps to trace what is going on. The rest of us factory reset and install an app or two, test and then repeat till we find Waldo.

- Collapse -
Hahaha, and that's what I did!
Mar 23, 2020 4:19AM PDT

Thanks! You're right. That is what it came down to. I will post a full reply to my solution. Thanks for the feedback!

- Collapse -
SO! Another quick update. *knock on wood* I think I found th
Mar 23, 2020 4:20AM PDT

Short of finding an app that tracks the activity of all Android apps and processes, I decided to start disabling things one by one. Checking after each "Force Stop" to see if the compass started working.

It is looking like it may have been caused by a live background app called "BETTA" (a cool animated Beta Fish for your Home Page). Turning off the live background immediately allowed the sensor to start working again. It has been working steadily since yesterday!

Not a CLUE as to why the live background would interfere with the compass. Probably the darn ads in the background. I am testing the same app on my Galaxy S8, but it doesn't seem to affect this phone. Something about the S20 and this app appears to interfere.

I don;t think its the live wallpaper function itself either. As I have another one loaded to test functionality, and all is working fine. Seems to be this app called "BETTA" specifically.

Hope it keeps working!! I will update accordingly with what I find if anything changes.
Many thanks to the input from everyone!

- Collapse -
Mar 24, 2020 11:47AM PDT

App is called "Betta Fish Live Wallpaper FREE" and it is made by a group called "Maxelus".
I have reviewed the app with my findings. And additionally have emailed the company. Hoping that it gets resolved, as its a very cool app!

CNET Forums

Forum Info