November 26, 2014

I Was Wrong: the "Android SMS Bug" is Real

Looks like I was wrong in my previous post: the Android SMS bug appears to be real, but dependent on a very specific condition that does not exist for most users. That’s why most people cannot reproduce it.

Specifically, there is something about certain email-to-SMS messages that corrupts Android’s SQLite database, causing unpredictable results thereafter. The most commonly cited offender is alerts sent by Bank of America, though SMS alerts sent by LinkedIn and T-Mobile are also cited. It’s possible that any SMS where the sender is an email address will do the trick, or it’s possible there’s something else these specific senders’ messages have in common.

To be clear: if you’ve never received one of these corrupting messages, you will never be able to reproduce the bug. That’s why it’s only affecting a small group of Android users.

If you have fallen prey to the issue, you should be able to fix it by performing a hard reset (wiping all data) and then blocking the offending sender(s) from sending you texts in the future.

This information all comes from another bug report on the Android section of Google Code, Issue 1233. I encourage you to contribute to the thread only if you have useful information to add. Letting the useful info get buried in a mountain of “fix it now!!!” does not help anything.



  • The_Omega_Man

    This is good information…I’m glad that the original post was done, right or wrong, as it has brought some useful information to the forefront.

  • caz

    I don’t care that your last post was wrong, not one bit, as long as you updated us with the truth, that was the important thing.

  • Cristian

    Chuck, you’re a stand up guy, thanks for being a man and admitting when you’re wrong, wish other blogs *cough* AndroidandMe *cough* would do the same.

  • authorwjf

    I agree with @Cristian. Took some guts to post a blog titled I was wrong.

  • BrianC

    Well, I had read the bug reports and kind of saw that coming.

    Apparently, a mountain of “fix it now” *has* gotten this moved to critical, but yeah, further whining is probably not going to help.

  • Norwegian guy

    I do have the problem on my Galaxy S, and to the best of my knowledge I haven’t received messages like the ones described here.

    I send messages to one of my kids, and another of my kids get it (fortunately so far I hope it has stayed within the family), but none of these have ever sent me anything with an ‘@’ in it, the only thing I can think of is an automated SMS from Shell offering me a discount of some sort.

    What strikes me here, could this problem occur to us with a different character set? I mean – we have æøå in our alphabet, and may that as well corrupt the SQLite database?

    It’s a very serious problem to me though, I can’t trust my beloved Galaxy S anymore, and in my work I do send messages that could lead to serious consequences if they got into the wrong hands. Fortunately, Gmail works perfectly, so I stick to that on my Galaxy S.

    But please, this removes trust in the Android, and needs to be fixed quickly. Resetting the device is OK, but I will always have that uncertainty when sending SMS’es until it’s fixed.

    Another piece of information that might be useful, when I got the answer ‘? This wasn’t intended for me’ all the text messages were jumbled up under the wrong names, so the database was truly corrupt. My quick fix at the time was to restart the phone, and it looked great for a while, but it has happened three times to me in all.

    And I would like to join the others here, admitting you’re wrong only shows maturity and responsibility. Good job. And I love my Android…

  • Stewart

    I manage 25 servers and I have the monitoring sending me notifications through an email to sms gateway. Unfortunately I receive several such sms everyday and I have never been affected by this bug on any of my android devices. Also have never received a text intended for someone else.

    Thanks for admitting you were wrong, but I’m sure you are correct in your prediction that this affects very few people.

  • Daniel Greer

    In journalism there is nothing wrong with saying you are wrong. You present the facts as you find them. If the facts of a given matter change, then that’s what you report. Good to know that you can be trusted to keep us up to date with the most current information!

  • Che

    As you see here: http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=9392
    they probably fixed this problem…

    wow… it’s kinda ridiculous, such a bug could be devastating nowadays for us :D
    imagine you send texts to your boss instead to your wife or whatever… haha.

  • Scott

    Have we really sunk so low as a society that admitting you’re wrong is something to be praised rather than just the right thing to do when you’re wrong?

    I don’t know where you guys work, but at my job if everyone sat around waiting to be praised when they realized they were on the right track instead of just getting on with doing it right instead, they’d have might short careers.

  • Scott

    “on the right track” should be “on the wrong track,” of course… you see? I was wrong. Not stop praising me for admitting it, you pansies.

  • Jeoneewoultat
  • Vivers28

    the glitch of my droid is when i open a message it opens an entirely different thread, not the one i have chosen. also the frequent reboot or freezes once in a while. i think it all started when i updated the software…actually, it updated itself one day when i was connected to a wifi source. i have searched online and they always say the same thing, that i should as tech support to revert to my previous settings. i love my droid. been using it for a year. no matter how enticing the iphone 4 looks like, i can’t seem to let go of my droid. i just wish someone would help my with this problem :l thanks!