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[WIP] What you need to know before, during and after modifying your verizon S4

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By decaturbob, Senior Member on 11th January 2014, 03:28 PM
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To all:

This thread will become a sticky with links to other informative threads concerning verizon S4 and what you need to understand in modifying the S4. Please do not post questions in this thread as this is a WIP. Please do not post comments in this thread. If you want to make a thread contribution, post links to information or an informative post please do.

Clearly the S4 is one the most popular and effective phones available today. Many S4 owners wish to modify their phone with custom kernels and custom Roms. There are limitations on what you can and can't do with the S4 based on the firmware release of the phone. Modifying the phone involves risk which can end up costing the owner time and money to correct. The more people understand when it comes to the firmware limitations, ADB, Odin process the better prepared they are to minimize risk and the repetition of mistakes.

>>>>Can KitKat NC5 be rooted?? A NEW native method of rooting NC5 if you took the OTA update is NOW AVAILABLE<<<<<

>>>>[HOW TO] [ROOT] [APK] Root for NC5 OTA (All Kitkat devices) without PC!!!<<<<<

NC5 native root method (tower root) video by tomsgt/rootjunky

>>>>Please note that the processes involving upgrading/downgrading must be followed as written. Also be sure to scan those threads for any additional information. I strongly urge to set up a check list. If you miss a step, you will have to start all over, you may soft brick your phone, you may turn your phone into a paperweight <<<<<

[HOW-TO]Upgrade to 4.4.2 VRUFNC5 and keep root (for NC2 and MK2 devices) [05/13/2014] by surge1223

4.x to 4.4.2 SAFE Up & Downgrade w Root n SafeStrap feat. 1File/Flash&Done!MK2-NC2/NC5 by gigilie

How I downgraded from NC5 OTA to MK2 and back to Rooted NC5!!! Complete Step-By-Step by techguy2002

Helpful videos
Verizon Galaxy S4**KitKat (NC5) Upgrade**With Root&Tethering by Bobby Onesios

Verizon Galaxy S4 KitKat**DOWNGRADE**to Jellybean by Bobby Onesios

Verizon Galaxy S4 Odin Restore and Unbrick by tomsgt (rootjunky)

Verizon Galaxy S4 Odin Restore and Unbrick
All revisions of the I545 after MDK (ME7, MI1, MJ7, MK2) can NOT have a custom recovery, only Safestrap can be used.

To locate your firmware version (build number) use Settings/More/About phone. Read the "Build number". The last 3 characters are how we describe what version your phone is using and why we always ask what build or base you have. Do not confuse this with the radio baseband.

You can not flash to previous firmware releases.

USB communication with S4 can be touchy, I recommend only using the samsung USB cable that was provided with the phone.

All files downloaded need to be verified to their checksum MD5. There are free md5 checkers for windows. I strongly urge to download to PC and copy to extsd card.

I do not have experience with MDK firmware based phones and the loki process for installing custom recoveries. I am sure we have plenty of people who do that can contribute to this sticky.

Can someone explain to me what makes a rom safestrap compatible? What can I do to a rom to make it boot with safe strap?
The ROM needs to be built to use the stock TouchWiz kernel that's on the phone, as Safestrap can't replace the kernel. (Flashing a non-Samsung kernel will set the "Knox Warranty Void" flag.) per k1mu

"The number one reason people brick their Verizon Galaxy S4 phones is due to attempts to flash recovery using Goo Manager, dd, and other tools without understanding when those will or won't work. The Verizon S4 is very locked down, and will reject such attempts in most cases."

Important to read this link first
Customizing your Verizon Galaxy S4 - what's possible and what's not by k1mu

Custom Recovery for Verizon S4: Only MDK baseband!!!!! by k1mu

How to update from ME7 to MJ7, root, install safetrap and HD11 guide by decaturbob

[guide]how to use adb,ddms and take a logcat by Mr.Gentleman

[GUIDE] How to Enter ODIN and Recovery Modes on Verizon Galaxy S4 by open1your1eyes0;

[ROOT] Saferoot: Root for VRUEMJ7, MK2, and Android 4.3 by k1mu

[RECOVERY LOCKED] Safestrap Recovery v3.71 [2013-12-27 EXFAT Fix by hashcode

Safestrap 3.71 compatible 4.2/4.3 ROMS (work in progress)

Safestrap 3.72 compatible kitkat 4.4 ROMS (work in progress)

Informative thread by tomsgt with videos concerning rooting, loki, etc

Again, please do not post questions in this thread as this is a WIP. Please do not post comments in this thread. If you want to make a thread contribution for links to information or an informative post please do.
Last edited by decaturbob; 16th June 2014 at 03:31 PM. Reason: added info for tower root>>>native root for NC5 builds
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11th January 2014, 03:40 PM |#2  
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I copied this from andriodforum post and give full credit to Nomorefear,

ADB- Android Developers Bridge: The program used to talk to your phone and give it commands (USE IT ONLY IF YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE LEARNING)

Root/Rooting- Getting the administrative control i.e, "hacking", "jailbreak", etc, etc...... Root is also defined as the base folder of your SD card. If you are told to place a file into root then this is what is meant. REMEMBER-root/rooting-admin control OR base folder on SD card. Please re read instructions you find in the forums throughly so that you may be able to save yourself some time and heartache.

- program which gives authority for another program to have Root access. Program examples are "setcpu", "terminal emulator", "auto killer memory optimizer"

Recovery- a useful tool that allows root users to flash roms, reinstall backups, and do many other fantastic things to help keep your phone from becoming a brick.

Flash/flashing- the action of "installing" a file that isnt normally installed by conventional means i.e. flashing a rom, flashing a radio, flashing a kernel, etc etc. '/!\ WARNING: flash at your own risk and make sure you have over fifty percent battery and do not interrupt the flashing procedure. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!!!'

Brick- making a device useless so that it is rendered a mass of uselessness i.e. PWNED, paperwieght, borked

Terminal Emulator- a program which simulates ADB and basically is a way to communicate with the phone and provide a command language that is for upper eschelon (1337) users to helm.

Nand/nandroid backup- In your recovery terminal there is an option to make a "Nand backup". This is a restore point or in gaming terms a save point. As most of us gamers know, if you save before you go further in the game and you make a poor choice then you can reset and go back to where you started. This is the same thing but for your phone

Easiest way to put it: it is the thing that manages your system resources. This puppy can help make your phone run better and also overclock it.

Overclocking Dont worry I wasnt gonna leave this term out. This is written for newbs so lets just say this is the term for making your phone run faster. IMPORTANT NOTE!!! Overclocking your phone too far can make it seize up or go into bootloops if done incorrectly! It can also make your phone run hot. BEWARE!!!!

PRL Preferred Roaming List: This is just an updated list of what cellphone towers have been added to the system. This means better coverage when updated" - Nomorefear

Here are some other definitions not covered by Nomorefear. For the following, I give credit to Wiki CMS Groupware (makers, I mean "developers" of Titanium Backup). I've also modified their stuff a bit. Link at end of post.


system app - A system app is an application that resides in /system/app/ and thus is technically a part of your ROM

user app - is an application that resides either on the /data partition of your phone's internal memory or on your SD card

system data - In the vast majority of cases, system data is simply the data that belongs to system apps or services.

root - is the UNIX system administrator (UNIX is an operating system [OS] just as MicroSoft "Windows" is an OS)

NAND locked (or "S-ON") device - is a device where the ROM (usually mounted at /system) is write-protected in hardware and thus cannot be modified, even if you have root privileges. Sometimes you get the illusion that you can write to /system, but in any case all changes will disappear after a reboot. This is why these devices often have "temp root" instead of permanent root". In order to get permanent root access, you need to make your device "NAND unlocked" (or "S-OFF") first. In other words, you need to "unlock the bootloader".

shell - simply is a "command line" to type commands on your Android phone. If you're comfortable with typing on the phone then you can just use the ConnectBot (free) app or the Better Terminal (paid) app. If you want (or need) to type commands from a computer, just install the Android SDK, then enable "USB debugging" on your phone and finally, connect your phone through USB and type "adb shell" on your computer.

Here is another definition from kejlyCZ (link at end).

"ROM - is abbreviation for Read Only Memory. In this case, it's the part of the phone software, which is provided by manufacturer (operating system, basic built-in programs) and it's protected from deleting by user. It's the same like when you install Windows, the clean installation with no user data and user installed programs. In Android, ROM means the Android operating system. It can be the official ROM (updated by manufacturer) or unofficial ROM (AKA "Custom ROM) ('brewed' by community,.....

And FINALLY (unless I edit later):

Boot Loop or Boot Looping - your phone keeps rebooting endlessly until you turn it off or throw it against the wall, there are a number of ways to get out of boot loop
Last edited by decaturbob; 15th January 2014 at 12:28 PM. Reason: changed text
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11th January 2014, 03:42 PM |#3  
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]After MDK firmware release, all subsequent phone bases do not have the loki exploit. Only custom recovery available is Safestrap

>>>>> You CAN NOT use goo manager, you CAN NOT load TWRP or CWM recoveries. <<<<<<

>>>>> You CAN NOT use goo manager, you CAN NOT load TWRP or CWM recoveries. <<<<<<

Only custom recovery available is Safestrap
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11th January 2014, 03:45 PM |#4  
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Well done, thread stuck!

....all - let's keep this thread on topic for now, and offer any other helpful guides and links that contribute !
Last edited by Naddict; 11th January 2014 at 04:16 PM.
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11th January 2014, 03:52 PM |#5  
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So you messed your phone up, what to do next?
As I have not messed a phone up, its a somewhat difficult for me to speak with knowledge on what needs to done. I do know you can odin back to your stock base, I know there is Kies. We will post links to the various Odin stock image files.
11th January 2014, 03:55 PM |#6  
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The second and third posts mean if your VZW GS4 DID originally come with the MDK software build AND you DID NOT accept the OTA update you can install a custom recovery such as CWM or TWRP.

If you ACCEPTED the OTA or your GS4 came with ANY OTHER BUILD (ie ME7, MI1, MK2, etc) you are limited to Safestrap and Touchwiz.

You CANNOT downgrade to MDK. The new bootloader will NOT ALLOW IT.

Attempting to flash a custom recovery onto ANY build OTHER than MDK can cause SERIOUS issues with your device and MAY result in a BRICK.

Please read, read, read, before attempting any mods. The time you spend reading may save you a big headache.

OP, if this post is unnecessary you may delete or PM me and I will delete it.
Last edited by FernBch; 11th January 2014 at 03:58 PM.
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11th January 2014, 04:08 PM |#7  
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If our attempt is to reduce the amount of questions in Q&A then could post these as well? I constantly have to link these two posts in questions so I figure they'd be useful here.

[MODEM][Zip] Modems for Loki'd & Safestrap roms (12/31/13)

[ODIN][TAR] VRUEMK2 Emergency and No-Wipe Odin tars

Sent from my SCH-I545 using XDA Premium 4 mobile app
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12th January 2014, 01:58 AM |#8  
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I've just expanded my post in the Q&A Forum. Please incorporate, merge, etc. as you think appropriate.
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12th January 2014, 03:56 PM |#9  
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Nice job fellas, I wish I had had all this info in one spot when I started with this phone. It would have saved me a bunch of time and headache.
14th January 2014, 02:49 PM |#10  
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What's your thoughts on adding links and info about installing Xposed Framework... I think that would help too

Possibly something regarding TiBu as well as that is something I see people not grasping... How to save data, apps, and freeze things like SDM if that's what they're going for.

Maybe I'm thinking too specifically about things but just throwing that out there. Good work!
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Last edited by Mistertac; 14th January 2014 at 02:55 PM.
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