Definition of Bricking

Bricking refers to a situation where an electronic device, such as a smartphone or computer, becomes completely unusable and nonfunctional due to a hardware or software issue. This term is derived from the fact that the device becomes as unresponsive and useless as a brick. The cause of bricking may include failed updates, corrupted firmware, or hardware damage.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Bricking” is: /ˈbrɪkɪŋ/

Key Takeaways

  1. Bricking refers to the malfunction of a device, rendering it non-functioning and generally unresponsive.
  2. It can occur due to hardware failures, firmware updates gone wrong, or the installation of unsupported software modifications.
  3. While sometimes irreversible, bricking can often be fixed or avoided with proper precautions, such as researching compatibility and following proper installation instructions for updates or modifications.

Importance of Bricking

The term “bricking” is important in technology because it refers to the state where an electronic device has become completely unusable, often as a result of a software or firmware update going wrong.

This colloquialism likens the device to a brick, as it is rendered non-functional, unresponsive, and incapable of being repaired by the average user.

Understanding the concept of bricking is crucial because it highlights the potential risks and consequences associated with modifying or updating technology, as well as emphasizing the need for proper testing, maintenance procedures, and preventive measures to ensure the continued functionality and reliability of electronic devices.


Bricking is a term primarily used in the technology industry to describe a device that has become inoperable or useless, essentially reducing it to a state similar to that of a “brick.” This situation typically arises when a device’s firmware or software experiences an irreparable issue, or when an unauthorized modification is attempted, causing the device to malfunction or fail to boot. For instance, bricking can occur while installing custom software, updating a device’s firmware, or attempting to “jailbreak” a device to bypass its original limitations.

When a device becomes bricked, it is unable to perform its intended functions and, in many cases, requires specific technical expertise to restore it to a working state. While the term “bricking” might imply that a device is permanently damaged or beyond repair, this is not always the case.

Often, devices can be “unbricked” through various tools, software, or by seeking professional assistance. Bricking serves as a deterrent against unauthorized modification and helps protect a device’s integrity, ensuring that it operates as intended by the manufacturer.

In some instances, bricking may be employed by manufacturers as a security measure to prevent users from installing unauthorized software or gaining unauthorized access to a device’s system, thus preserving both the device’s functionality and the manufacturer’s intellectual property. Understanding the risks associated with bricking can protect users from inadvertently damaging their devices and educate them about the importance of adhering to the manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations.

Examples of Bricking

Smart Home Devices: In 2016, the smart home technology company Wink faced a crisis when its devices suddenly stopped functioning due to a security certificate update issue. Thousands of customers found their devices, including light bulbs, door locks, and thermostats, were rendered useless or “bricked.” Wink managed to resolve the issue by providing a firmware update to unbrick the devices, but it remains an example of how an oversight can plunge technology into a bricked state, impacting users worldwide.

Mobile Phones: In 2016, Apple faced a controversy known as “Error 53” affecting iPhone users who had replaced their touchscreens or home buttons with third-party components. Whenever users updated their iOS, it detected such replacements and bricked the device. Apple cited security concerns for the implementation, but after facing backlash from affected users, they released an iOS update to unbrick the devices and reinstated functionality.

Gaming Consoles: The Sony PlayStation 4 has faced instances of bricking due to software updates. In 2017, some users reported that their gaming consoles were bricked after installing a new system software update. The consoles became non-functional with users unable to turn them on or use them. Sony acknowledged the issue and provided tips on how to resolve it, but it highlighted the potential of bricking even in popular gaming consoles.

FAQs on Bricking

What is bricking?

Bricking is a term used to describe an electronic device that has become unusable due to corrupted software, hardware failure, or other reasons. It means the device is no longer functional and has become as useful as a brick.

What causes a device to become bricked?

Bricking can occur for a variety of reasons, such as interrupted firmware updates, malware or viruses, hardware failure, or the installation of custom software that is incompatible with the device. In some cases, bricking may happen due to user error while trying to modify the device’s software or firmware.

Are there different types of bricking?

Yes, there are two main types of bricking: Hard bricking and soft bricking. Hard bricking renders the device completely inoperable, with no signs of life, whereas soft bricking may still allow access to certain functions, such as the device’s bootloader or recovery mode. Soft bricking is generally easier to fix than hard bricking.

Can a bricked device be fixed or unbricked?

In some cases, a bricked device can be fixed or unbricked. The possibility of fixing a bricked device largely depends on the cause of the issue and whether it is a hard brick or a soft brick. Soft bricks are usually easier to fix, and there are various guides and tools available online that can help users unbrick their devices. Hard bricks, on the other hand, are more challenging to fix and may require professional assistance or replacement of the device.

How can I prevent my device from becoming bricked?

To prevent your device from becoming bricked, follow these general guidelines: always ensure your device is fully charged before updating firmware or software, never interrupt a firmware update, use reliable and verified sources for software or firmware files, avoid installing incompatible software or firmware, and exercise caution when modifying your device’s software or firmware.

Related Technology Terms

  • Firmware Update
  • Bootloader
  • Soft Brick
  • Hard Brick
  • Recovery Mode

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents