How to fix Windows 10 doesn’t recognize Android phone

Android phones are plug & play as far as a Windows 10 system is concerned. When you connect an Android device (phone or tablet), Windows 10 will automatically install drivers for it. Once the drivers are installed, you can access the phone’s storage from File Explorer.

 Windows 10 doesn’t recognise Android phone

Fix Windows 10 doesn’t recognize Android phone

Connecting an Android phone to a Windows 10 system, and accessing its storage is easy however, you will sometimes run into problems. One common problem that users face is that the Android phone isn’t recognized by Windows 10. This problem manifests in one of two ways;

The phone does not appear in This PC when you connect it.
When you connect the phone to your computer, Windows 10 shows a message the USB device was not recognized or has malfunctioned.

These problems are fairly easy to fix though if you have older Android device (Android 6 or older), or you have a rooted device, you [month] have to install a few things manually to connect the phone to a Windows 10 PC.

Before you try any of the fixes, go through these checks;

Make sure the phone is unlocked when you connect it to your system and that it remains unlocked for at least five minutes.
Make sure you’re using an original data cable, or a certified data cable to connect the device.
Try changing the port that you connect the phone to. Try a USB 2.0 port if your device is old.

1. Enable file transfer connection

When you connect an Android phone to a Windows 10 system, it can connect with different connection types;

Charging connection (no data can be read or written)
File transfer (read and write data).
Media transfer protocol (MTP) (access audio and video files, and some images).
Photo transfer protocol (access photos).

In order to read and write files to the Android device, you need to set it to the File Transfer protocol.

Connect the Android phone to the Windows 10 PC.
Wait until it you hear the sound of hardware connecting or you see the phone is charging.
Swipe down to open the notifications panel.
Tap Android connection option twice.
On the screen that opens, select File Transfer.
Wait one minute (Windows 10 [month] install additional drivers) and then open File Explorer.
Go to This PC.
The device will appear with the internal drives.

2. Enable USB debugging

USB debugging is generally used by developers however, when you enable it and connect your device to a Windows 10 system, it installs additional drivers. Those drivers [month] be necessary in order to establish a connection.

Open the Settings app on your Android device.
Go to System or About Phone (it depends on the device).
Look for Build.
Tap the build number seven times to enable Developer Options.
Go to Developer Options (it will appear in the Settings app on your Android device).
Turn on USB debugging.
Disconnect the Android phone from the Windows 10 system and connect it again.
Allow USB debugging on the phone (you will see a prompt).
Wait for Windows 10 to install drivers and then access the device from File Explorer.

3. Uninstall and reinstall device

Windows 10 sometimes fails to install drivers. This means your device isn’t installed correctly. Try uninstalling and reinstalling it.

Connect the Android phone to your Windows 10 PC.
Open Device Manager.
Expand Portable Devices and look for your phone.
Right-click the device and select Uninstall device from the context menu.
Allow the device to uninstall.
Disconnect the phone from the PC.
Connect the phone again and allow drivers to install.

Note: If you do not see your phone under portable devices, check under Other Devices and USB devices.

4. Power cycle the phone and PC

Android phones can run into problems that prevent them from connecting to a computer. 

Disconnect the Android phone from the Windows 10 PC.
Restart the Windows 10 system.
Press the power/wake/sleep button on the Android phone.
Select Restart from the menu.
Unlock the phone when it restarts and wait 5 minutes so that the phone is ready.
Connect the phone to the Windows 10 system. 

5. Boot to ODIN/Fastboot mode

Much like a Windows 10 system has a BIOS, Android phones have an ODIN mode (Samsung devices) or a Fastboot mode. Booting your device in this mode, and then connecting it to your Windows 10 system [month] install the drivers necessary for it to connect.

Caution: pay close attention to your phone’s screen. Your phone’s wake/sleep button will act as a selector key so be careful you do not press it and select an option that can erase your phone. 

Turn the phone off.
Hold down the Volume Up, Volume Down, and Home button on the device (or Bixby button on Samsung device).
When you see the device logo appear, release all three buttons and press the Volume up button.
Connect the phone to the Windows 10 PC.
Wait 5 minutes.
Press the power button until the phone powers off.
Press the power button again to turn it On.

6. Install Samsung Smart Switch

This fix is for Android devices manufactured by Samsung.

Download Samsung Smart Switch.
Install the app on your Windows 10 system.
Connect the Android phone to your system.
The phone will be detected.

7. Manually install drivers from Google

Windows 10 [month] be consistently failing to install drivers for the device. Uninstalling and reinstalling will do no good in this case. You can manually install drivers from Google.

Open Device Manager.
Look for Android Composite ADB Interface. It [month] be under USB controllers or Portable devices.
Right-click the device and select Uninstall.
Download USB drivers from Google here.
Extract the folder
Disconnect and reconnect the Android device.
Open Device Manager.
Locate the phone (look under Portable or USB devices).
Right-click the phone and select Update driver.
Select Browse my computer for software. 
Select the extracted folder.
Click Next and allow the drivers to install.
Disconnect the phone, and connect it again.

8. Connect in Airplane mode

Try putting your phone in Airplane mode before you connect it to your system. It is known to work in some cases.

Disconnect the phone from the computer.
Swipe down and tap the Airplane mode toggle.
Connect the phone to the system.
Once the phone appears in File Explorer, you can turn Airplane mode off.

Conclusion

Android phones do not require special apps to connect to a Windows 10 system. It is generally very easy to access the internal storage of an Android device without special file managers. It only gets tricky because Android remains fairly fragmented and Windows 10 isn’t able to recognize devices from certain device manufacturers.