I went through the exercise of doing a factory reset (which did not fix any of the issues, surprise surprise) and Verizon agreed to send me a replacement phone.
But what I did notice is this:
On both phones, after doing a factory reset, most of the bloatware was *not* on the phone until I gave it my gmail address... then they began downloading (isis, nfl, allshare, print services, audible, and on and on.)
I re-reset, rebooted, and did NOT give my gmail (or any other email) and the downloads did not start. After a few hours, I gave it my gmail, and the downloads started. And I would like to point out... these downloads are NOT restoring or synching any of my play store apps, these are all of the junk that were pre-installed when I got the phones (for example - nfl live, or nfl direct, or whatever it is called is NOT on the phone until after it is downloaded and installed automatically.)
So today I have a new Galaxy S4 with JellyBean 4.3 (I545VRUEMK2)
After activating it, it started downloading a "software update", KK I presume.
I didn't let it finish; I restarted the phone and re-factory reset it, and immediately turned off wifi.
I've not given it my gmail, but had to give it my work email (exchange).
So far, no updates... It is just a vanilla system with nothing more than my work email (which is working fine.)
Is there any way that I can, at this point, prevent it updating or installing all of the Verizon garbage?
I know the knee-jerk answer will be "root it" but I want to avoid that if possible... this is my employer's phone, and I don't want that to be an issue if there are any problems with the phone.