Samsung Flashing/Recovery Guide

  • 26 February 2019
  • 13 replies
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With all of the different mentions of the various different ways to flash the S9/S9 Plus, and Note 9's to Pie.  This is how I personally flash Samsung devices to ensure there are no issues.  This little guide will touch on full upgrades and roll back to a previous firmware.  Unfortunately, this guide will be a little lengthy. 

Most important!  I do not work for or speak for T-Mobile or Samsung and T-Mobile, Samsung, and myself take no responsibility for you messing up your device.  Corrupt downloads, interrupting the flashing process, and improperly cross-flashing a different carrier firmware can leave you with a bootloop, which in most cases is recoverable unless you flash a non-North American firmware to your North American device.  This tutorial assumes you have some knowledge of what you are doing.  I have personally flashed more recently, Note 8's, S9's, S9 Plus, and Note 9 devices for myself as well as others, and am an active member over on various XDA-Developers sup-forums.

Getting Started:

Download what you plan on flashing.  If it is an OTA update you want to sideload, you can copy that to your SD card, boot into recovery, and flash it.  Yes, that is vague but I also don't recommend that method, especially when using an OTA from another carrier firmware. You should also make sure your device is fully charged when flashing.

What You Need:

ODIN 3.13.3, the firmware you are trying to flash (example: 1ARL1), 7-Zip or WinRAR (do not use the Windows built in ZIP folder to extract or to copy the files out of the ZIP file), the factory USB cable that came with your device, a USB 3 or USB 2 port that isn't sharing with other ports, some patience, and making sure the drivers are installed when your device is in Download Mode before opening ODIN.

Before you do anything else, go into the Windows Power Options, Advanced Power Plan select High Performance, Change Plan Settings, Change Advanced Settings, scroll down to USB Settings, click the +, click the + next to USB Selective Suspend Setting, and set that to Disable!  Hit Apply and Ok, and close the rest of the windows you opened to get there.

Getting Started:

You will need to go to Settings, About Phone, Software Information, and tap on the Build Number 7 times.  Back out to the main Settings area and go into the Developer Options menu.  Enable USB Debugging.  This needs to be enabled in order to flash a full factory image successfully.

In the ODIN compatible factory image, there will be 5 files (4 if you are using the U1 XAA firmware).  The T-Moible factory images are usually labelled TMB U with the build version of them in the file name.  Personally, I grab the files I flash from Updato but there are a few decent sites around the internet that host these files.  The site isn't fast, it has lots of ads, but it also has a lot of firmware versions.  There are no carrier specific U1 builds that are legitimate firmware!  These files pop up from time to time on sites.  They are combination ROM's that do work, but they are not stock firmware.  They will not permit OTA's and are essentially the U1 base firmware with components from a U or W firmware added and replacing what should have been included.

The important parts of the firmware name are fairly simple.  You more than likely want TMB U because you are flashing a T-Mobile firmware and want to flash an updated firmware or roll back to a previous firmware.  The 5 characters at the end of the Build Number (in the file name) are also important.  The last 4 are the build specifically (example (ARL1).  The fifth number (example: 1) though is also very important.  The number before the last 4 characters is the firmware bootloader version.  A device can be flashed with the same bootloader version or newer, but you can  not flash to a previous version of the bootloader.  A Samsung device with 3ARG7 can not be flashed back to 2ARG4 but you could flash 2ARG4 to 3ARG7.

Extract the factory image with WinRAR or 7-Zip to ensure the files are not corrupted, which Windows likes to do.  The files it will extract start with AP, BL, CP, CSC, and Userdata.  In some ZIP's, there will be a HOME_CSC as well.  Delete this file!

Flashing Time:

Boot your device into Download Mode!  Power off your device, wait 10 seconds after the screen goes blank, hold down Volume Down, Bixby (if your device has that annoyance), and Power On until you are greeted with a blue screen with a warning.  Press the Volume Up key to continue.  Connect the device with the USB cable that came with your device to your PC.  Give Windows time to install the drivers for the device, which might take a couple of minutes.  Open ODIN 3.13.3.  Nothing needs to be changed from the default options so do not change anything!  Load up each file in their respective slots and wait for them to fully scan in and load.  Some files do take longer than others.  Once you have the AP, BL,CP, CSC, and Userdata loaded.  You can then hit the Start button in the ODIN window.  Wait for the device to fully flash before disconnecting it!  If the device fails right away.  You either have an incorrect image, ODIN does not like your USB port you are using, or you are trying to flash a firmware with an earlier version of the bootloader that the device currently has.

When flashing completes, your device will boot to the setup screen.  Proceed to setup your device just like you did before.

Cross-Flashing:

Cross-flashing a device will not SIM unlock the device!  The SIM lock / unlock is stored within a part of the device that is not flashable!  If you flash your TMB U device to another firmware, the T-Mobile unlocking app will be removed from your device and leave the device unable to be unlocked by T-Mobile unless you flash back to the TMB U firmware.  However, you can use a third party unlocking service to unlock your device at whatever rates they charge to do so.

All of the hardware for a particular model for a region have different firmware but the hardware is exactly the same!  My Note 9, as one example, is an XAC (purchased in Canada) and originally came with the W Canadian firmware.  It currently is on the TMB U 1ARL1 firmware, which I upgraded to via OTA after flashing the latest firmware from August 2018.  The process to convert your device from one firmware version to another is simple enough but more involved.  The flashing instructions are similar enough to not have to repeat them.  This conversion process, when done correctly, will give you the LTE bands that firmware has access to, adds and removes bloat based on what the firmware contains, includes carrier aggregation for the carrier specific firmware versions, and will receive OTA's for that specific firmware.

When converting from one U firmware to another U firmware of a different carrier, you can not directly flash from one to the other.  You need Modded or Patched ODIN 3.13.3, which bypasses the firmware version check.  You need to flash with the modded or patched ODIN directly to the U1 XAA non-carrier firmware first, which does not contain a Userdata file.  Always delete the HOME_CSC to ensure you don't use it.  It will bork the conversion.  Modded and Patched ODIN look exactly the same and work exactly the same outside of skipping the firmware check.  You do not need to change any of the default options when cross-flashing!  Flash your W or U firmware to the U1 XAA firmware.

Once you have successfully flashed to the U1, skip through the setup, not entering your Google information or anything, head back into the Settings to enable Developer Options and USB Debugging so you can start the process again.  From the U1, use the modded or patched ODIN 3.13.3 the same way to flash to the U or W firmware of your choice.  U firmware does include a Userdata that must be flashed with the rest of the factory image!  Once the flash finishes with PASS, you will have that version of the device

Dirty Carriers:

AT&T and Verizon use your devices IMEI to verify that you bought your device from them.  Even with the correct firmware on your device, they will lock you out of carrier specific features by reading your devices IMEI and disabling those features on your account.  Sprint and T-Mobile do not participate in this despicable practice, thankfully!

Purpose:

The main reason I have provided these instructions is for those who have corrupt firmware plaguing their device or those who ideally own their devices and are looking to leave T-Mobile or brought their own device from another carrier and want the full T-Mobile experience.  If you paid for your device, you have the right to take that device and use it fully on any carrier of your choice in my opinion.


13 replies

Thanks for the info. Im new to the flashing of androids but am not new to programming and tech work. Is there any additional info you can provide like link for versions of the tools you used, or maybe where I can find the verisons of the firmware needed as im coming from verizon to tmobile? Thanks again

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Providing links here would be a level of support that T-Mobile does not encourage or condone.  However, XDA-Developers has links, how to's, walk throughs, and thousands of helpful people that can provide you with the links to firmware, tools, and so on.  Each sub-forum there is specific to the model of the device, keeping everytjijg in sections that make it easy to find and follow. 

Thanks. I tried looking there and I've had a tough time. Seems like

Everytime I type firmware flash it wants to point to Samsung. Myself am no

fan of them anymore as they have been performing bad ethic practices like

apple for a while now. Throttling older devices after updates etc. On my

second lg ever and am really happy. Camera is crazy good with amazing

manual functions. Just trying to get off Verizon garbage as they remove all

kinds of features and bands and lock down phones. I only was on Verizon

because old employer paid for it. Well thanks again for the info.

I did manage to find a site called lg-firmware.com

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The main sites for Samsung firmware are called Updato, SamFirm, and SamFrew. 

Userlevel 6

The is also a great tool that gets it right from Samsung called frija.

Is there any for LG?

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LGUp is for flashing LG devices.  It is very difficult to cross-flash LG devices though in comparison to Samsung devices but LGUp is a very good recovery tool for reflashing stock firmware.

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How do i go back to 2.0??????

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How do i go back to 2.0??????


on what device exactly?

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SM-N960U

Thanks syaoran for the guide.

Is the USERDATA file from the firmware really required?  I thought it was only needed if you want to have the carrier’s apps preloaded (T-Mobile apps and affiliate apps, like Spotify). When moving from U1 stock firmware to carrier U firmware, what would happen if you used AP, BL, CP, CSC, but left out the USERDATA file?  Would the new firmware still have any T-Mobile network customizations/band settings, and just not have the T-Mobile and affiliate apps, like Spotifiy, etc?

Thanks.

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@syaoran -fantastic post, sir.

The cost of our high-tech requires us to really dig deep into the details…..and as the tech becomes increasingly more technical (and diverse), it will mean fewer and fewer folks will be able to negotiate the complexity.

I use android and linux and have delved into some of the “jailbreaking and modding”, but it gets deep quickly.  I think what we need is a little more standardization, but that does not look likely to happen.

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@syaoran-fantastic post, sir.

The cost of our high-tech requires us to really dig deep into the details…..and as the tech becomes increasingly more technical (and diverse), it will mean fewer and fewer folks will be able to negotiate the complexity.

I use android and linux and have delved into some of the “jailbreaking and modding”, but it gets deep quickly.  I think what we need is a little more standardization, but that does not look likely to happen.

Samsung and OnePlus are somewhat standardized.  All US and Canadian modems for each nation and carrier are pretty much identical and cross-flash able.  OnePlus takes that even further in terms of all the hardware for a model being the same globally, which can also be cross-flashed.  Both companies are actively trying to deter users from doing this though.  Samsung is still pretty easy but the OnePlus 8, 8 Pro, and 8T have gotten more complicated.  Still fairly easy to do once SIM unlocked and the bootloader is unlocked, but the bootloader can be relocked after flashing and taking a full OS update.

I would love manufacturers to have one single model for each device globally, which Apple comes the closest to.  If Android manufacturers had firmware similar to the U1, which adapts to the US carriers SIM in the device.  That on a global scale would be fantastic.  However, I think that would also promote theft and exportation of blacklisted devices overseas and to Mexico and South America where they can be sold because they don't recognize the blacklists of Canadian and US carriers.  The price variation from nation to nation would also be an issue for manufacturers.  Phones in the UK as one example, cost almost double after the currency conversion. 

We can dream though!  

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