December 25, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Once again, all of us here at XDA would like to wish you a Happy Holiday Season! Undoubtedly, many of our happy readers are waking up to some extra Holiday cheer in the form of shiny new tech acquisitions. Luckily, XDA is here and has your back in helping you make the most of your new, Android-powered tech toy(s).
You may remember that a little while ago, we shared with you our Best of 2013 Holiday Gift Guide. Now, we’re going to take some of these “Best” devices that you all voted for, and help you make the most of them. Obviously, we’re going to start with gaining root access and installing a custom recovery. But on some devices, this will even include installing an aftermarket ROM or even enabling multiboot!
Let’s start the day with your top pick as best tablet of 2013, the Google Nexus 7 (2013). With its high end specs and budget-friendly price, we think it’s safe to assume that quite a few Android fans are waking up to a brand new N7.
Since the Nexus 7 is a Nexus device, unlocking and rooting is incredibly simple. You will want to start by installing ADB and Fastboot by downloading the Android SDK (or installing minimal Fastboot and ADB installer, and the associated drivers). Then after you have ADB and Fastboot installed, the real fun can begin!
If all you want is root access, the easiest way to accomplish this is by running CF-Auto-Root for the Nexus 7 (2013). CF-Auto-Root will get you rooted and install the latest version of SuperSU in practically no time and with virtually no effort or hassle.
Not everyone likes it simple, though. For those who’d rather get a bit more hands on, you can unlock your device by turning on USB debugging in developer settings and rebooting your tablet to bootloader by issuing the adb reboot-bootloader command. From there, you can unlock your new device by entering fastboot oem unlock. Then, simply reboot your device with fastboot reboot, reenter your bootloader with adb reboot-bootloader, and flash a custom recovery using fastboot flash recovery <recovery image filename.img>.
After you have your custom recovery installed, your doors are now open to installing some of the more popular custom ROMs, or perhaps you can even give Multiboot a try! All of this and more can be found in our Google Nexus 7 (2013) forum, here at XDA.
Now let’s shift our attention to your top pick as best smartphone of 2013. Surprise, surprise. It was the highly anticipated Google Nexus 5. Just like the Nexus 7, it also offers a wallet-friendly price. But unlike its tablet sibling, it also offers bleeding edge specs like a quad-core 2.26 GHz Snapdragon 800 processor.
Just like the Nexus 7, unlocking and rooting the Nexus 5 is a cakewalk. Just like what we covered above, you will want to start by installing ADB and Fastboot by downloading the Android SDK (or installing minimal Fastboot and ADB installer, and the associated drivers).
Once again, if all you want is root access, the easiest way to accomplish this is by running CF-Auto-Root for the Nexus 5. CF-Auto-Root will get you rooted and install the latest version of SuperSU in practically no time and with virtually no effort or hassle.
For those who’d rather get a bit more hands on, you can unlock your device by turning on USB debugging in developer settings and rebooting your tablet to bootloader by issuing the adb reboot-bootloader command. From there, you can unlock your new device by entering fastboot oem unlock. Then, simply reboot your device with fastboot reboot, reenter your bootloader with adb reboot-bootloader, and flash a custom recovery using fastboot flash recovery <recovery image filename.img>.
Once you’ve got your recovery installed, you can now begin flashing any number of custom ROMs and kernels. And for those willing to try something a bit more ambitious, you can even play around with multiboot. Obviously, all this and more can be found in our Google Nexus 5 forum.
Next up, we have the HTC One. Although the device is no longer on the bleeding edge in the specs department, it offers build quality and a design aesthetic simply unparalleled in the Android OEM world.
While the process is a bit more involved than it is on the Nexus devices listed above, it is fully possible to unlock, root, install a custom recovery, and do much more on the HTC One. Thanks to the hard work by ieftm and his team, the device can be unlocked. There are also several custom recovery options available, as well as Official OmniROM and CyanogenMod installations, though you will want to make sure you are installing the appropriate version for your particular variant.
In addition to the custom ROM fun, those who are feeling a bit more ambitious can give Multiboot a try, as well as a Google Play editions conversion. Just like the previous two devices, all this and more can be found in the HTC One forum.
Please note, however, that the above links are intended for the INTERNATIONAL version of the device. If you’ve got yourself a shiny new carrier-branded variant, make sure you find your appropriate XDA forum before getting to work.
Let’s turn our attention over to the popular and powerful Sony Xperia Z1. Unlocking the device is a breeze. From there, you will want to gain root access, as well as flash a custom recovery. Once you’ve gotten that done, Official OmniROM and CyanogenMod builds await. And like the devices above, all of this and more can be found in the Sony Xperia Z1 forum here at XDA.
Now, we will talk about the wallet-friendly Moto G. Although it’s not the fastest device available, it offers a fantastic value that is simply unmatched in other budget devices.
Luckily, it is quite easy to unlock the Moto G directly through Motorola. From there, you can easily achieve root access and install a custom recovery. There’s not much in the aftermarket development world beyond the above, but you can rest assured that this is only a matter of time, thanks to the device’s popularity. And of course, keep your eyes peeled on the Moto G forums to keep apprised of any and all development activity for the device.
This innovative Moto X proves that raw hardware specs aren’t everything and that an innovative feature set can make for a great user experience, even on non-bleeding edge hardware.
Let’s start with rooting and unlocking, which is now possible thanks to jcase’s RockMyMoto exploit. From there, you will want to install a custom recovery. Then, you can try out any one of the source-built custom ROMs and kernels available in the Moto X forum.
Now we have the largest phone on this list, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Packing bleeding edge specs, a mammoth sized screen, and the fantastic Wacom-based S Pen, the Note 3 is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Luckily, rooting the device and installing a custom recovery are quite easy on the Note 3. Development support is also quite widespread on the Note 3, so be sure to check out the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 forum here at XDA. Please note, however, that the above links are intended for the INTERNATIONAL version of the device. If you’ve got yourself a shiny new carrier-branded variant, make sure you find your appropriate XDA forum before getting to work.
Rounding out this article, we have the Samsung Galaxy S 4. Much like the highly acclaimed HTC One, the SGS4 is no longer the king of all of the hardware specs battles. That said, it’s still a great phone, jam packed with plenty of great features.
Thanks to the device’s age and vast popularity, root access and custom recoveries are both possible, with much more available in the Samsung Galaxy S 4 forum. But just like the HTC One and Note 3, be sure to visit the appropriate forum for you carrier-branded variant if you’re not running the international version of the device.
We wish you much Android-powered joy for this Holiday Season! See you in the XDA forums!
December 18, 2013 By: eagleeyetom
A custom recovery is where most of the aftermarket magic happens in Android. Using one, you can backup your ROM, wipe your data, and of course flash a new ROM. In contrast to fastboot, recoveries can flash ROMs even on locked devices. There are some workarounds required, but it can be done.
Owners of AT&T variant of Samsung Galaxy Note 3 now have a working recovery thanks to XDA Recognized Developer Hashcode, who used a bootstrap method in order to make his fully working recovery. The method used by Hashcode differs from the standard method used in, for example, the Nexus 5. This type of bootstrap recovery preserves the /system partition and creates up to 2 “ROM slots” located on the internal eMMC area: /sdcard. Basically, the custom ROM acts like a second /system partition on the device. Once the second slot is activated, a standard TWRP-based recovery flashes all necessary files.
The size of the second partition is adjustable, but you need to remember that more slots mean less space for other ROMs. The recovery can be installed as an application and doesn’t require messing with the /system partition. The development is still in alpha stage, and some bugs may be present, but it’s still a great start!
[Big thanks to XDA Forum Member dirtydroidx for the news tip!]
December 10, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Frustrated Verizon Samsung Galaxy Note 3 users, you’re about to receive a rather significant OTA if you haven’t already. Verizon has now begun rolling out an OTA update that promises major bugfixes for some of the most pesky issues plaguing the device so far. Unfortunately, the update also comes with a catch: It brings four new pieces of Verizon special issue bloatware.
The OTA takes the form of a “mandatory” update. Luckily it doesn’t update itself without your consent, but if you choose to not install the update when prompted, it will reappear every 30 minutes thereafter until the update is installed.
According to the release PDF, the update brings the following changes:
KEY DEVICE ENHANCEMENTS
The following apps/widgets/services are now preloaded:
• MyInfoZone widget
• Verizon Support & Protection (VSP) version 2.0.0
• Verizon Cloud
The following issues have been resolved:
• Incoming call displays Picture Me on screen when using Call Waiting
• Handwriting data entry issue for email and SMS messages has been resolved
• Email sync issue has been fixed and connectivity has been improved
• BT audio continues after a call is missed • Mobile Hotspot reliability has
• Samsung keyboard crash issue has been resolved
• Notification Panel responsiveness has been improved
The following additions have been made:
• Voicemail Notification has an Urgent Priority notification
The following areas have been improved:
• Sound quality
Yep, that’s right. Four new pre-installed applications. And I don’t know about you, but “MyInfoZone Widget,” VMWare, “Verizon Support & Protection,” and Verizon Cloud don’t sound terribly useful—at least not useful enough to force users into installing them. But that’s why we root, right?
Visit Verizon’s support document to get the full scoop on the update. Then make your way over to the update discussion thread to get in on the discussion. If you’ve already updated, let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to give us your thoughts on the after-the-fact mandatory bloat.
November 22, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
When Google released Android 4.4 KitKat 23 days ago, we all knew that it would be quite some time before most users would have the chance to play with the OS on their own devices. Sure, the Google Nexus 5 launched with the OS, but what about those with older phones? Thankfully, the update news has been gradually coming through, with most manufacturers giving timetables as to when the the updates will come. Then there’s Motorola, which has gone above and beyond by actually starting the rollouts on certain variants of the Moto X.
Unfortunately, Samsung has yet to officially state when their Galaxy line up will receive the KitKat goods. Moreover, they haven’t even said which devices will receive updates. But now thanks to a leaked internal memo, it looks like the updates are at least in the works. Naturally, the company’s new flagships (the Galaxy S 4 and the Note 3) will receive the updates first. This leaked memo states an anticipated January 2014 date. Next up are the Galaxy S III and Note II, which should receive the goods between March and April.
While the update won’t be here in time for the Holiday season, at least we now know that it’s (probably) coming relatively soon. Are you pleased with Samsung’s update schedule, or are you disappointed that the updates are lagging far behind Good Guy Moto? Let us know in the comments below!
With the arrival of the Galaxy Note 3, Samsung has also introduced their newest camera software addition, Surround Shot. A mode that draws parallels to Photosphere introduced with Android 4.2, it allows users to stitch together multiple individual photos of the surrounding environment into one, spherical image. The downside? It’s exclusive to the Note 3.
Despite this, XDA Senior Member LastStandingDroid has made sure that users of the Galaxy S 4 will also be able to enjoy such novelty by backporting the Note 3′s camera app to the S 4. Tested to work with Android 4.3 with Samsung’s Touchwiz, it has been reported that all features of Note 3′s camera app are working as they should, including the aforementioned Surround Shot. Installation is simple, requiring users to flash the provided zip file through a custom recovery, and it is always a good thing to make a Nandroid backup before hand. Sadly but somewhat expectedly, users of any AOSP-derived ROM will not be able to get their hands on the port, as LastStandingDroid has made such incompatibilities clear in the forum post.
So if you’re a user of the Galaxy S4 running Touchwiz and Android 4.3, and would like to give give the Note 3 camera a spin without having to change devices, visit the original thread for more information and download.
Yesterday, we featured a quick recovery-flashable modification for the Sony Xperia Z1 that boosts the device’s maximum volume. As it turns out, however, Xperia Z1 users aren’t the only ones who like it loud.
Although the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a more than adequate built-in speaker, some still would prefer to boost its maximum volume. And even for those who think the internal speaker is loud enough, they may not be satisfied with the maximum volume on their connected audio devices such as dock devices and HDMI speakers. Thankfully, XDA Senior Member jovy23 created a similar mod for the Note 3.
Currently, the modification only works on Snapdragon-powered Note 3 devices (N9002 and N9005), rather than those featuring the Exynos 5 Octa 5420 processor (N9000). For supported devices, the installation is as simple as flashing a recovery-flashable zip. And for the curious, the zip replaces the snd_soc_msm_Taiko_CDP file within the /system/etc/snd_soc_msm path with one of three versions.
There are three different versions for three different boosted volume levels, as well as a revert-to-stock zip. We can only assume that this works only on the stock TouchWiz ROM and its derivatives, but if you’re running a Note device, you probably wish to stick with this software anyway for the S Pen support.
Make your way over to the modification thread to get started.
October 23, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Anyone with a Samsung device will undoubtedly know the importance of the EFS partition. This partition controls many important radio functions, and when corrupted, can lead to all sorts of issues such as a possible loss of network connectivity. Because of this, it’s important to make a backup of the EFS partition, just in case anything goes wrong with a future flash down the line.
In order to make the backup process a little easier, XDA Senior Member A.S._id created a Windows batch file that gives users the option to backup the EFS partition, as well as options to run an Odin, DD, and Tar.GZ restore. Along for the ride with the batch are all the binaries needed by the script, including Odin3, adb, tar, and the Cygwin DLLs.
The utility currently officially supports only the N900 and the N9005 variants of the Note 3. However, users are reporting that the N9005 version works just fine on the Chinese N9008 model and that the T-Mobile N900T works fine as well, though we assume that was with the N900 version of the utility. In any case, it can’t hurt to try to run the backup even if your device isn’t yet supported. However, we wouldn’t recommend running the restore function on an unsupported device until the utility has been updated with support for your model.
Make your way over to the utility thread to get started.
October 21, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Not too long ago, we featured a method posted by XDA Senior Member soloilmeglio that allows Samsung Galaxy Note 3 users to add Floating Pen Window functionality to any app. While immensely useful, adding applications was unfortunately a rather cumbersome task, requiring the modification of a certain CSC file. Thankfully, XDA Recognized Developer xperiacle has now created an application that does all the work for you, enabling you to add Floating Pen Window functionality to any app with just a few clicks.
Aptly titled Pen Window Manager, xperiacle’s application makes the whole process a point and click affair. You obviously have to be rooted, with BusyBox installed. But aside from that, this application installs like any other standard app. Once installed, all you have to do is select which apps you’d like to work with the Floating Pen Window function, save, and reboot.
While this app will work perfectly for the vast majority of people, there are a few caveats. Mainly, if you previously edited your others.xml or features.xml file, you may have introduced errors into the files. This will then cause the Pen Window Manager app to not function properly. If this applies to you and you are experiencing problems, try restoring your original files before retrying the app.
If you’ve been longing for an easier way to add applications to the Floating Pen Window function, make your way to the application thread and give this a shot!
October 18, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
The official Android 4.3 firmware for the Samsung Galaxy S 4 is out! That and much more news is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is an article reporting that some Samsung Galaxy Note 3 apps have been ported to the Galaxy S 4, and the announcement that there is a custom ROM feature comparison database now available.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer TK showed us some great mods for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Jordan released an interview of Developer Guillaume Lesniak, aka XpLoDWilD, XpLoDWilD’s Big Android BBQ presentation can now be viewed online, and XDA Developer TV Producer TK gave us an Android App Review of Ultimate Sound Control. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
October 18, 2013 By: TK
The Samsung Galaxy Note line of devices has given us many reasons to want a stylus on our phones. While you can customize the functions of the S Pen on the Note 3, the sound that the device makes when you take the pen out is not customizable from the system settings. The same goes for the Camera app.
XDA Recognized Contributor kevinrocksman brings us an easy way to modify the Note II and Note 3′s S Pen and Camera sounds to our hearts’ content. Before starting, you must be rooted and have a custom recovery installed.
The modification comes in the form of an AROMA-based recovery-flashable zip, in which the sounds are included. Due to the use of AROMA installer, installation is easy, and the installer walks you through the selection of sounds selection. And if you decide the modification isn’t for you, it even allows you to go back to the stock sounds.
October 15, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is latest and greatest phablet in the Samsung’s Galaxy Note line. It comes from the factory with many neat features. However, here at XDA, we don’t just want a normal device. We want to customize our device to get even more power, functionality, and great features.
In this video, XDA Developer TV Producer TK presents three mods that he’s installed on his Samsung Galaxy Note 3 using tools from the XDA Developers Forums. These mods include Fixing the Titanium Backup Issues, Getting the Floating Pen Windows on any App, and performing a Region Unlock. Check out this video.
October 13, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
The Galaxy Note 3 is Samsung’s latest phablet and part of their ever expanding Note line. Improving upon its predecessor in practically every way, the device is a true powerhouse and wonderful productivity tool. Rooting the Note 3 has been possible for some time, and our own XDA TV Producer TK even created a video guide on how to do this recently. However, doing so would trigger Samsung’s KNOX.
Now thanks to some clever work by XDA Recognized Developer designgears, along with some help from Elite Recognized Developer Chainfire and an “anonymous source” that provided “some hook ups,” Knox-friendly root has been achieved.
Root de la Vega, named after AT&T Mobility’s CEO Ralph de la Vega, was originally meant for the AT&T variant of the device. Now, however, this supports the SM-N900W8, the SM-N9000Q, and SM-N9005, with the N900W8 and N9005 both being confirmed as working and the N9000Q not yet working.
With this package, you can achieve root on the stock firmware and revert to an older firmware without tripping the KNOX flags. Root will survive a factory reset, and as of the recently released version 2.3, you can now use the Xposed Framework on this device.
It is very important to note that while rooting and downgrading the stock firmware in this manner does not trigger KNOX, flashing a custom recovery will trigger it. Furthermore, rooting will make the system report as custom and display an unlocked lock on your initial lock screen. However, this can be removed by installing Xposed Framework and the Wanam Xposed module, and enabling Security Hacks -> Fake System Status.
Head over to the release thread to get started.
Update: Senior Member kal87 has reported that this also works with the N900V (Verizon variant).
[Many, many thanks to RavenY2K3 for the tip!]
October 10, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
In this episode, XDA Developer TV Producer TK shows you how to root your Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with Odin and a PC. TK just recently reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and it is the latest in Samsung’s phablet line. Many people say it’s a great device that is the current device to beat and is wonderful out of the box. But at XDA, we must root all the things.
TK presents step-by-step instructions on how to gain root access on your Samsung Galaxy Note 3 using tools from the XDA Developers Forums. The process is works for a majority of the variants. You will just need to follow the below links to XDA Elite Recognized Developer Chainfire’s thread and find the specific files for your variant. So take a moment and check this video out.