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Thread: Caution: Verizon May2014 OTA Update of Android 4.3 Will Break Root ... How to Avoid

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    Member FirstLight's Avatar
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    Exclamation Caution: Verizon May2014 OTA Update of Android 4.3 Will Break Root ... How to Avoid

    Greetings,

    Introduction
    ------------------------
    If you've been following the news about the Android 4.4 (KitKat) rollout, you're probably aware that it is already rolling out to Galaxy Note II phones in India, Europe and some carriers in the U.S. But not Verizon. Rumors claim that KitKat may be pushed to the Verizon Note II as an OTA (over the air) update in late May or early June 2014.

    In the meantime, Verizon surprised us yesterday (13-May-2014) with an unexpected OTA update. The new update is not Android 4.4. Rather, it is only a small revision of Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) that includes some minor bug fixes, roaming for TELUS in Canada, and a security modification that will break root-level access on rooted phones.

    How do you know if the May-2014 update is installed on your Verizon Note II (model SCH-I605)? Go to the Android System menu and select "About phone". If you have the original Android 4.3 that can be rooted, your Android version will be "4.3" and your Baseband version will be "I605VRUEMJ9". If your phone has the May-2014 update to Android 4.3 that cannot be rooted, your Android version will be "4.3" but your Baseband version will be "I605VRUAND3".

    If the May-2014 update of Android 4.3 hasn't reached your phone yet, it will. My wife and I both have Note II phones on the Verizon network and my phone usually receives the updates before hers. But this time it was the opposite and her phone was the first one to receive the system update message asking her to install now or delay. So, Verizon may be sending the update to phones in the opposite order as in the past. It can sometimes take weeks to reach all phones.

    If you have a rooted Note II (SCH-I605) on the Verizon network and you need to preserve root-level access on your Note II, then you cannot allow this OTA update to install. Furthermore, when the KitKat version is finally available as an official OTA update, you'll have the same problem and will need to avoid it until a new method is discovered to root the phone under its new security system. Past techniques, like Saferoot, no longer work under the May-2014 update of Android 4.3 or the upcoming Android 4.4 update on the Verizon network.

    Now we come to the purpose of this thread...


    How to prevent OTA updates from installing
    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    One of the problems with Verizon OTA updates is that, while you can delay them for a while, eventually they will force their way onto your phone whether you want them or not. The best way to prevent this is to disable SDM on your phone. SDM is the "smart device manager" which handles the OTA updates. Your phone must be rooted to disable SDM. If you phone is not rooted, you won't have access to it because it resides in a protected system area of your phone.

    Method 1: Freeze SDM
    This is my favorite technique because it's safe, easy and temporary. Plus, it's super simple to undo later, if you desire. It requires a third-party app like Titanium Backup Pro (highly recommended). You simply locate "SDM 1.0" in the list of apps and "freeze" it. This disables it without removing it from your phone. If you ever want to allow the OTA updates to install, simply "defrost" SDM 1.0 and you'll be back in operation. Note: It is usually necessary to also restore your phone to stock condition before accepting an OTA update. This means you will also need to defrost any frozen system or Verizon apps (including their bloatware). And it means you will need to unroot your phone.

    Method 2: Uninstall SDM
    If you are 100% sure that you will never want to accept an OTA update, then you can uninstall SDM from your phone. Again, this will require a third-party app like Titanium Backup Pro. Simply locate "SDM 1.0" in the list of apps and "uninstall" it. I recommend that you create a backup first, so you'll have it in case you need it later.

    Method 3: Hide SDM
    This last method requires a file explorer that can view the system folders and files. I use Root Explorer (highly recommended). Using your file explorer, navigate to the \system\app\ folder and "Mount R/W" the "app" folder so you can modify its contents. Locate file "SDM.apk" and rename it. For example, you could rename it to "SDMold.old". Exit the file explorer and restart your phone. Android won't be able to find SDM.apk to launch SDM 1.0 and you're set. If you ever want to restore SDM, simply rename "SDMold.old" back to "SDM.apk" and restart your phone.

    I hope this topic helps you avoid the unexpected loss of root-level access to your phone. Hopefully, the developer of Saferoot will discover a way to root Galaxy phones with the new security system so we can easily root our phones after an OTA KitKat update. Until then, you need to avoid the new updates---if you need root-level access.

    When it's finally available, I'm eager to receive the KitKat OTA update but I'm not willing to give up root-level access. If Verizon continues to force Samsung to employ these onerous security measures onto its phones, I may be forced to move to another carrier.

    Kind regards, FirstLight

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    Junior Member tommyg562000's Avatar
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    Thanks so much. I got notification of the update today and you posted this just in time.

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    Member FirstLight's Avatar
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    Greetings,

    It appears that Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) is finally rolling out as an OTA update to Verizon Note II phones. See my new thread for information for rooters.

    Kind regards, FirstLight

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