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[HOW-TO] Unbrick your soft bricked Galaxy S III (+ bootloader brick)

OP Hero

18th August 2012, 02:04 PM   |  #1  
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STOP

Follow this guide to the letter. If you don't know what something in ODIN is used for...DON'T CLICK IT.

Now that that's out of the way, I'd like to apologize to psycopanther for three days worth of trial and error (mostly error), but now I've got a surefire fix for softbricked devices. Kinda ironic how I discovered it though lol.

The Problem: Sometimes when you flash a ROM (TouchWiz or AOSP), there is a risk of the /system and /data partitions not wiping correctly thus leading them to be formatted with R/O permissions rather than R/W. This makes it impossible for the phone to boot up because no data can be written. Not even a typical ODIN flash back to stock or rooted stock will fix this. Using CWM to flash another ROM will yield the same no boot results. Furthermore, the stock recovery will not work and it becomes impossible to perform a factory reset. Sound frustrating? It is.

The Fix: You know how people all over the android forums are told never to tick any of the boxes in ODIN except for Auto Reboot and F. Reset Time? Well this time you will be ticking another box. If you ever run into the problem where your partitions are read-only, but the phone will still boot into Download Mode and recovery, you need to do the following steps:

BUT FIRST
Prerequisites:
AND
Number of devices tested on and confirmed working: 40
  1. Open up ODIN
  2. Select only the following box: F. Reset Time
  3. Flash the VRALEC bootchain in the PDA section and wait for a PASS message
  4. Reset ODIN
  5. Flash the VRALF bootchain in the PDA section and wait for a PASS message
  6. Reset ODIN
    If you have trouble flashing the bootchains with the method above, try this instead:
    • 1: Flash the first bootchain.
    • 2: Unplug the device while leaving it in "Download Mode".
    • 3: Exit ODIN and then restart it.
    • 4: Plug the device back in while still in "Download Mode".
    • 5: Flash the second bootchain.
    • 6: Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4.
  7. Put the stock.vzw_root66.tar in the PDA section
  8. Select the following boxes: Auto Reboot, F. Reset Time, Nand Erase All

  9. Start the flash process
Your phone will reboot, but it WILL NOT boot to the homescreen. After you receive a PASS message in ODIN, pull the battery and do the following:
  1. Reboot into Stock Recovery (hold volume-up, home button, power button simultaneously)

    NOTE: You WILL see the following error in recovery so don't freak out:
    Code:
    E:failed to mount /data (Invalid argument)
    E:Can't mount /data/fota/ipth-muc.prop
    E:failed to mount /data (Invalid argument)
    E:Can't mount /data/fota/ipth-muc.prop
    E:failed to mount /data (Invalid argument)
    E:Can't mount /data/fota/ipth-muc.prop
  2. Wipe data/factory reset
  3. Wipe cache partition
  4. Reboot

Now your phone will boot up completely with no problems! Congratulations, you just saved yourself $600 and a call to Verizon.

The Question: Will this work on other carriers/devices? Possibly. To those of you on other carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint), I am 99.99% positive this will work for you. Just be sure to download a rooted stock ROM in addition to your boot chains that can be flashed in ODIN.

DO NOT USE ROOT66 OR THE LINKED BOOT CHAINS IF YOU ARE ON ANOTHER CARRIER! YOU MUST USE YOUR OWN DEVICE-SPECIFIC FILES!

Thanks

psycopanther - for putting up with me and for figuring out the R/O issue
Invisiblek - for the bootchain files
open1your1eyes0 - for root66
h3llsdr0id - for his method of flashing the bootchains

Donations
Thank you all! - If I forgot you send me a PM

mark-in-dallas
madunix
soopervoo
tserrano35
Ryan Sherman
Kenneth Holt
mike216
kp_martin

If this worked for you please consider a donation. After all, you did just save $600 Donations keep me motivated to putting out new goodies and fixes for the community.
Last edited by Hero; 4th December 2013 at 09:25 PM.
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18th August 2012, 02:14 PM   |  #2  
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Bootloader(?) brick
I recently discovered another type of brick by accident and it appeared to be associated with the bootloader. To retrace my steps, I updated to the VRALHD baseband using CWM and immediately after that I restored a backup which caused me to lose the ability to flash ROMs. When loading up another ROM, I always got to the bootanimation, but the bootsound would cut off almost immediately and I would be stuck at a black screen. I was not able to flash ROMs and even unlocking the bootloader again after Odin-ing back to stock didn't work. I was stuck with the stock ROM. The method in the OP doesn't work for this, but the following steps do:
Prerequisites
  • Root66
  • PIT file (depending on your model (16gb/32gb)) - (PIT)
  • Odin
The steps are simple:
  1. Flash Root66 in the PDA slot and the PIT file in the PIT slot
  2. Only tick Auto-reboot, Re-Partition, F. Reset Time
  3. Boot into recovery
  4. Factory reset + wipe dalvik
  5. Reboot
Number of devices tested on and confirmed working: 2
Your device should boot up normally and you should be able to flash custom ROMs now. If you are still encountering issues, try the method in the OP then re-unlock your bootloader using either AdamOutler's CASUAL or EZ Unlock. Note, if you use EZ Unlock you may continue to get a message saying that the bootloader status is UNKNOWN even after unlocking the bootloader. This was the case for me, but I then did the PIT method as described in this post, factory reset the device, and used TWRP to flash my ROM.

Just an FYI, I now use TWRP so I'm not entirely sure whether there was something specifically wrong with CWM. The partition sizes just got severely messed up.
Last edited by Hero; 2nd October 2013 at 02:47 AM.
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18th August 2012, 02:19 PM   |  #3  
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So what's the ironic story on how you found the fix? Great write up BTW. Hope I never have to use it but keeping this in a safe place.

Sent from my SCH-I535 using xda premium
18th August 2012, 02:21 PM   |  #4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chefdave12118

So what's the ironic story on how you found the fix? Great write up BTW. Hope I never have to use it but keeping this in a safe place.

Sent from my SCH-I535 using xda premium

Had two S3s, tried to hard brick one to use as a brick test device (it was soft bricked with the error in the OP), but ended up fixing it instead
Last edited by Hero; 18th August 2012 at 02:24 PM.
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18th August 2012, 02:28 PM   |  #5  
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This should be sticky'd imo
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18th August 2012, 03:08 PM   |  #6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josolanes

This should be sticky'd imo

+1

Sent from my SCH-I535 using xda premium
18th August 2012, 05:55 PM   |  #7  
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Excellent write up. For some soft-bricks, this might be overkill, but it will alteast get everyone back up and running no matter how severe their issue is. Thank you for the post! I am downloading the files now incase we have some hosting issues in the future. After Goo.im wiped everything a couple times I think it is important to be careful and prepared.
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18th August 2012, 06:08 PM   |  #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by con247

Excellent write up. For some soft-bricks, this might be overkill, but it will alteast get everyone back up and running no matter how severe their issue is. Thank you for the post! I am downloading the files now incase we have some hosting issues in the future. After Goo.im wiped everything a couple times I think it is important to be careful and prepared.

Added mirrors for the bootchains just in case.
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18th August 2012, 06:39 PM   |  #9  
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lol. PROFIT!

---------- Post added at 06:39 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:31 PM ----------

also, if you have CWM or twrp recovery, and you boot into recovery (before trying any steps above), you can connect your phone with adb and while in recovery (cwm, or twrp) and go into adb shell, and type "mount" .this should show something like this :

mount
rootfs on / type rootfs (rw)
tmpfs on /dev type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,relatime,mode=755)
devpts on /dev/pts type devpts (rw,relatime,mode=600)
proc on /proc type proc (rw,relatime)
sysfs on /sys type sysfs (rw,relatime)
/dev/block/mmcblk0p15 on /data type ext4 (ro,nodev,noatime,nodiratime,user_xattr,barrier=1, data=ordered)
/dev/block/mmcblk0p17 on /cache type ext4 (rw,nodev,noatime,nodiratime,user_xattr,barrier=1, data=ordered)
/dev/block/mmcblk0p14 on /system type ext4 (rw,relatime,user_xattr,barrier=1,data=ordered)

the /dev/block/mmcblk0p15 is set to RO if you notice. and this will cause constant boot hanging as the /system will try to constantly write to /data in which it will fail. These were our symptoms before trying steps in OP.

MAD PROPS to PureMotive for helping solve this issue. pure genius!
18th August 2012, 07:27 PM   |  #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycopanther

lol. PROFIT!

---------- Post added at 06:39 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:31 PM ----------

also, if you have CWM or twrp recovery, and you boot into recovery (before trying any steps above), you can connect your phone with adb and while in recovery (cwm, or twrp) and go into adb shell, and type "mount" .this should show something like this :

mount
rootfs on / type rootfs (rw)
tmpfs on /dev type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,relatime,mode=755)
devpts on /dev/pts type devpts (rw,relatime,mode=600)
proc on /proc type proc (rw,relatime)
sysfs on /sys type sysfs (rw,relatime)
/dev/block/mmcblk0p15 on /data type ext4 (ro,nodev,noatime,nodiratime,user_xattr,barrier=1, data=ordered)
/dev/block/mmcblk0p17 on /cache type ext4 (rw,nodev,noatime,nodiratime,user_xattr,barrier=1, data=ordered)
/dev/block/mmcblk0p14 on /system type ext4 (rw,relatime,user_xattr,barrier=1,data=ordered)

the /dev/block/mmcblk0p15 is set to RO if you notice. and this will cause constant boot hanging as the /system will try to constantly write to /data in which it will fail. These were our symptoms before trying steps in OP.

MAD PROPS to PureMotive for helping solve this issue. pure genius!

Sorry that I didn't think of this before. The logcat you sent me did show the symptoms of a ro filesystem but it didn't click with me!

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Tags
brick, corrupted partitions, galaxy s iii, sgs3, soft brick, unbrick, verizon
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