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How to remove write protection Galaxy S4 SGH-i337 (hardware), containing i9500 firmware?

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Lutz123

Member
Oct 10, 2021
7
0
I purchased an SGH-i337 motherboard from Ali Express. However it is booting into an [email protected] stock i9500 ROM with Android 4.2.2 on it. I tried to flash it using Odin 3.09 with the corresponding SGH i337M stock ROM of the 5.0.1 Android but getting <ID:0/013> FAIL! (Auth) message. Also in download mode on the top left on the screen it shows one grayed out line saying "write protection enabled". So, I assume its the write protection giving me this problem. Perhaps someone has an idea how to enable writing to the device?

Thanks in advance
Lutz
 

Lutz123

Member
Oct 10, 2021
7
0
AT&T never sold the I9500. If the motherboard is an AT&T model - a quick trip into download mode will confirm that - then your best option is to get your money back. AT&T locks the bootloader, meaning you cannot change the ROM.
Thank you. Well I got this main board for cheap and for the purpose of playing around, experimenting with rooting etc. What struck me was that the board is an i337 (which also is confirmed when going in download mode) but contains a well running i9500 firmware. I wonder if someone ever here has come across such oddity. Perhaps it is a chinese trick to re-sell old main boards, who knows... So, what you are saying is that it is bricked already and there is no way to ever download a different OS? Also of the bat, my Canadian SIM card will not work - which points clearly to a locked ATT firmware. I heard about a possible way with enabling debug mode to turn off the write lock, not sure though if that is applicable here...
 

Strephon Alkhalikoi

Senior Member
Aug 3, 2010
7,109
3,260
Vulcan
Samsung Galaxy S4
Nexus 6
Frequently. Resellers would buy the boards from phones with bad IMEIs in the US and, using hardware that worked with contact points on the board, rewrite the firmware without touching the bootloader and change the IMEI as well.

We usually tell people who get such a motherboard to get their money back. Now...if you want a North American motherboard that can be modded, you want a SGH-I337M or a SGH-M919 board as both of them have LTE that works in the US and have unlocked bootloaders.
 

Lutz123

Member
Oct 10, 2021
7
0
Thank you again. I think I have learned something... So, the resellers just rig the board by somehow enabling to write firmware to the NAND flash bypassing the boot loader? I thought the IMEI is absolutely untouchable, but as you say apparently not so if you know the exact location in memory and know how to override perhaps? Darn, I thought I could practice with this board a bit until using my "good phone" for going to LineageOS. Well I will leave a rant on this seller at least.
 

Strephon Alkhalikoi

Senior Member
Aug 3, 2010
7,109
3,260
Vulcan
Samsung Galaxy S4
Nexus 6
Essentially yes. It used to be that changing the IMEI wasn't necessary, but if I recall correctly IMEI blacklists are now global in scope, so a phone IMEI that is blocked in one country would be blocked in others.

On Android 4.2.2 the IMEI was stored in a directory in the device internal storage and could be easily lost. Around Android 4.3 or 4.4.4 that file was moved into a portion of the device storage that normally is not user-accessible.
 

Lutz123

Member
Oct 10, 2021
7
0
Essentially yes. It used to be that changing the IMEI wasn't necessary, but if I recall correctly IMEI blacklists are now global in scope, so a phone IMEI that is blocked in one country would be blocked in others.

On Android 4.2.2 the IMEI was stored in a directory in the device internal storage and could be easily lost. Around Android 4.3 or 4.4.4 that file was moved into a portion of the device storage that normally is not user-accessible.
I have been trying to root this thing using jortex method with the exploits. This failed as literally every memory address this program tried to access was readonly. I am just running this board on a display and the USB connection, which should not be the problem.

Also curiously, on this board I can't get any SIM card to give me access to a network operator. Searching for operators fails with a brief error message. Otherwise it seems okay reading my phone number and showing it. There is no apparent network lock present. So, this piece of hardware really puzzeles me. It seems bricked if I can't even use my SIM card, let alone the write protection to everything. I already complained, but what can you do with these AliExpress Chinese dealers. He tried to explain to me how I can lock a SD card - totally off, - or avoiding the topic.
 

Strephon Alkhalikoi

Senior Member
Aug 3, 2010
7,109
3,260
Vulcan
Samsung Galaxy S4
Nexus 6
Unless things have changed, you have to use Safestrap recovery on an AT&T board to be able to do anything with it, including root it. With Safestrap you can install a second copy of the firmware on the internal storage and root it. You'll need to search the AT&T S4 forum for more information.