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Bricking definition

Bricking defines a state where an electronic device becomes completely unresponsive and can’t function or be easily repaired. When a device is bricked, it's comparable to being as useful as a brick. This informal term is commonly used in gadget communities with electronics like smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices, especially when talking about firmware updates or modifications that go wrong, making the device non-functional.

See also: firmware, jailbreaking

Bricking types

  • Soft brick. The device malfunctions but can be recovered. For example, a phone might get stuck in a boot loop but can be restored using specialized software or a firmware flash.
  • Hard brick. The device is completely unresponsive and can’t be easily repaired. It might not show any signs of life whatsoever.

Why bricking occurs

  • Firmware or software updates. If an update to the device's firmware or operating system is interrupted (due to power loss, for example), it might not complete correctly and leave the machine unbootable.
  • Rooting or jailbreaking. Trying to gain superuser access on devices (rooting for Android, jailbreaking for iOS) can sometimes go awry and cause the device to brick.
  • Hardware failures. In rare cases, a hardware malfunction can cause a device to become unresponsive or brick. This malfunction could happen due to manufacturing defects or damage, like water exposure.
  • Malware or viruses. Malicious software can sometimes corrupt essential system files or firmware, leading to a bricked device.
  • Failed modding or hacking. Some users try to modify or hack their devices to enable additional features or performance enhancements. If these modifications are not correct, they can brick the device.