Know your hardware - Samsung

Introduction
Other bootable modes
Leaving other bootable modes
Hardware buttons
What is a stock ROM and how do I get one?
What is a Custom recovery and where does it go?
What is Teamwin?
Now you are ready to study the software
Easy Installer
Now you are prepared to commit
Do I have to do a factory reset before I start?
Your first boot into TWRP
Use the eWiki
Bootloader locked

Post script - fastboot

Introduction

You have never changed the ROM on a phone, you have a Samsung phone and are are contemplating a move to /e/. This article hopes to be a low level primer to help you understand some of the things you have to work with. For an easy journey, with your enquiring mind, invest a bit of time increasing your depth of knowledge and enjoy a new learning experience.

This is written in very general terms, you must do your own research to corroborate the exact behaviour for your device.

I won’t talk of brick your phone, I have confidence you will understand what you propose to do and do not run ahead of your knowledge. It can feel scary, remember there is always the abort option! When we feel scared it is often fear of the unknown. This feeling is an indicator that you need to do more reading/research! If it is too unfamiliar, just stop, make some notes on what you just did and sleep on it. A useful reflection technique is to try to compose an accurate question that you might ask a time stressed geek. As you try to search for the words to define your problem, magically the answer may just come to you.

Before you introduce new software to your phone you must have some knowledge of the hardware.

Other bootable modes

In the first instance look for the booting mode button presses at the foot of the information page for your device. Find these pages by searching Smartphone Selector – the link to each information page is the Device Name in column 2.

For unsupported devices a good source is https://www.hardreset.info/.

Perhaps try to be able to answer these questions for yourself before moving on.

What is Download mode?

What is Recovery mode?

How do I enter each mode?

Reliable pages will be found at www.samsung.com in your region.

Learn how to safely get in and out of each of those modes for your Samsung device, with the necessary care.

Review Leaving Bootable modes

I have left you to learn how to get into these modes, here is how we get out. These images are from an unmodified Samsung.

Download mode Recovery mode
Downloadmode Recoverymode
To leave Download mode: press and hold both the To leave Recovery mode:
Volume Down and Power buttons at the same time, for 7 seconds. 1 Use the Volume buttons to highlight the option Reboot system now
2 Press the Power button to confirm the selection

The instruction for Soft reset (confirm for your device) is also Volume Down and Power buttons at the same time, for 7 seconds. This is a useful, “get you home” combination which will also work in the “regular” phone to undo an unsatisfactory situation.

Hardware buttons

During the flashing of an /e/ ROM you will control the device with the external physical buttons.

The external buttons are Power, Volume Up, Volume Down, Home/Bixby.

What do you mean Home/Bixby? Samsung have made the writer’s life harder to write an “all devices” article by providing some phones with a button called Bixby and others with a Home button. Please can the reader interpret Home/Bixby as whichever is on your device. Now we see devices with no Home or Bixby button - more research for the reader!

Now we can say:

Access Download mode:
With the phone off, press and hold [Volume Down + Home/Bixby + Power] buttons. (7 - 10 seconds).
When a Download screen first appears watch the screen for follow on instructions. Expect to see a Volume button instruction to either Cancel and leave Download mode or to Enter Download mode.

If you enter Download mode with nothing else going on you see “Downloading…” and “Do not turn off target” - as if it is busy❗
You know this really means “Ready”

Access Recovery mode:
With the phone off, press and hold [Volume Up + Home/Bixby + Power] perhaps over 10 seconds.
Read on screen instructions to Reboot → System, or System Reboot.

Will the reader please add a comment below if this use of language does not work for any Samsung model.
Please do not see this as a conflict with your device specific instructions which should refer accurately to the buttons on your device.

The buttons should be pressed simultaneously. :bulb: The power button executes, so lay your fingers on in the order above so that you are sure to execute with shift buttons already pressed.

Review - did you find out what the other booting modes are?
Short answers, but please do your own research so that in your mind you have sufficent grasp of the concepts.
Android recovery refers to a special bootable partition, which contains a recovery application installed in it.
Download Mode is a special Samsung booting mode, think of it as a communication channel, perhaps. It is locked to Samsung’s tools.
In the Samsung engineer’s description you would use it to download/flash updates, packages and firmware officially using Samsung’s Odin tool, it is also called the Odin mode.
Right now, Odin is only compatible with windows platform but you can use Heimdall if you need alternatives for Linux or MAC OS.
Dear reader, please comment below if you would recommend better links.

What is a stock ROM and how do I get one?

Stock ROM - Stock as is regular factory stock, unmodified - ROM Read Only Memory - the fixed part.

Why would I want one?

You might see it as a fallback if you fear it might all be a big mistake.

It is a requirement sometimes. /e/ is built on top of Android foundations. Installing a Stock ROM puts you at a “known foundation point”. This is an active subject at the moment. Knowledgeable comments below would be really welcome, thanks.

Some sources of a Stock ROM are

What is a Custom recovery and where does it go?

We have seen Android recovery (Samsung’s factory version of it) inside Recovery mode.

A Custom recovery is non Samsung and can be flashed over the Andriod recovery. Flashed, that implies the factory Andriod recovery will be deleted and replaced. What is Android recovery? | Android Central

Samsung engineers did not intend this to happen to their devices, so on screen messages may sound quite negative! For instance “No Operating system found” might mean “No Operating system with a Samsung signature was found”. Please always attend to these sort of messages, think them through or search.

TWRP is a well respected Custom ROM. It is important to have the exact match TWRP for your device. Custom ROMs are also being developed by LineageOS and /e/,

What is Teamwin?

Teamwin or TWRP is software, here is their website https://twrp.me/. I do not intend to discuss software further here, it is an important subject you should have a good grasp of before starting.

Now you are ready to study the software

You will look for the terse instructions by searching your supported device here then look for the link “Install → To install /e/OS on …your phone… click here”.

Study these great tutorials:

Linux
Windows

It is a significant choice whether you use Linux or Windows. If it is a choice for you, I suggest you make that descision early so that you follow one instruction set only.

Easy Installer

Easy Installer is an /e/ software product which will search for the software for a certain number of supported phones and then with your cooperation install /e/ on your phone. If you have a supported phone, have installed a ROM before and/or understand the workflow it is a really nice idea. Easy Installer is in development and is termed “beta”. If Easy Installer is an option for you grab a large piece of paper and try to understand the workflow before you start.

Easy Installer users please take note of the paragraph below Your first boot into TWRP.

Now you are prepared to commit

Are you? Could you tell a friend how to do it? You can always read more before you start, but if you don’t get stuck with the tell a friend test, go for it!

Do I have to do a factory reset before I start?

Yes. In fact you must also remove all accounts, especially Google, and passwords from the phone before the factory reset. Credit @SuzieQ who has provided the larger part of the author’s knowledge.

Check if you have a Carrier lock or SIM lock - consider if an organisation you pay/paid £$€ to, thinks it has prior claim on your device on account of they ordered 17,500,000 of them branded “your carrier”. In that case you may have to look up how to come to an accommodation with them.

Please remember that this article is intended for reading prior to install. During flashing of software be sure to follow your chosen set of software instructions.

Your first boot into TWRP

Many users fail at this point; think ahead about what needs to happen!

Samsung devices need be rebooted correctly first time you flash a non-Samsung recovery.

We saw that the device was engineered to support the Samsung ecosystem, and will protect itself from intrusion. Each time the phone reboots it will self check that the phone is “all original”. If you have introduced outside software the device will in the first instance try to overwrite the intrusion back to original.

Where we have just overwritten the Android recovery with the Custom recovery the user needs to know:

The key combination Volume down + Power on it’s own is Soft reset and will cause your phone to reboot and the device will over-write TWRP back to original, preventing the install of /e/, without further warning.

The instruction set to make your first boot into TWRP is often abbreviated for experienced users, but for a first timer would read:

  • Please now Force stop the phone – from the current “Download mode”
    • Disregard the (unhelpful) screen message "Downloading … Do not turn off target"
  • Use Volume down + Home/Bixby + Power to Force stop.
  • Attend carefully, keep holding the buttons - it may take about 7 seconds,
  • the instant the screen goes black (black as in off) and before the device starts to restart
  • instantly change the finger press to Volume up + Bixby/Home + Power,
  • Be prepared for another 7 second hold without relaxing, until Teamwin is seen.

Here, as a video.

Another nice wording to achieve the same is:

  • Press all 4 buttons Volume Up + Volume down + Home/Bixby + Power for 7 seconds till the screen dies,
  • Release the Volume down the instant the screen goes black
  • Keep holding Volume up + Bixby/Home + Power till TeamWin appears

You first sight of TeamWin:

Do not expect to see Android recovery which you started with!

Images; Credit and thanks @piero

Use the eWiki

For further information please be sure to search this resource effectively. Here is the search for

eWiki >> HOWTO >> samsung-galaxy

https://community.e.foundation/tags/c/ewiki/how-tos/142/samsung-galaxy

Increase focus with thousands of permutations like:

/e/Devices >> Samsung >> installations issues

/e/Devices >> Samsung >> samsung-galaxy

/e/Devices >> Samsung >> all

For the quickest learning experience study available Categories and tabs. Notice they don’t work quite the same in Community and eWiki.

Bootloader locked

Many of the following are interconnected. A careful look at the Odin mode screen may provide clues to many of the following.

In the examples below RMM refers to Remote Monitoring . So if Prenormal is triggered the device will require to be online (probablly with an activated SIM card) and (generally) in normal use, in order for the remote to be checked and for Samsung to release the device. As we see below the behaviour can be quite different depending on why the lock was applied. Knox Guard, is part of a tool used by Samsung and its partners called Knox Vault. This tool may have a footprint in the device tied to Vaultkeeper. Different generations of Samsung seem use these tools differently so be aware of author generalisations for this intended introductory reading !

Recent generation

With the generation of Samsung which includes Samsung Galaxy 10 beyond1lte we see a more securely locked bootloader. Be sure to follow the Pre-Install Instructions shown of the install page for your device. This thread, https://forum.xda-developers.com/t/no-way-to-disable-samsung-vaultkeeper.4225801/, includes an image of the “new” Odin mode screen for this generation of devices. The word Prenormal does not appear.

KG or RMM State Prenormal

This is a “conditional” partial lock which will allow the phone to be used as normal user, but locks the bootloader. This prevents the flashing of /e/ or a custom ROM.

Check the Download mode screen. A magnifying glass might be required. This image shows KG Prenormal.

The root cause of either Prenormal state may be unknown to the owner. D0 any of the locks mentioned below apply? Does any lock show as ON in the Download mode screen?

The Prenormal state may also be associated with an error message:

Only official released binaries are allowed to be flashed(RECOVERY)

In this case the phone will not accept a Custom ROM. It would accept an Official ROM. Beware of a situation where you are lured into Upgrading Samsung original to a higher Android version which might be even more securely locked !

This is a nice introduction to the subject dated June 2020. Prevent Prenormal KG/RMM State on Samsung Galaxy Devices (Guide). While written after the release of Android 10, the text in the final “bypass” method link, only mentions up to Android 9, pie.

We really need better information on how this impacts Android 10 and 11. The author of the “bypass” method wrote this new method (tested, worked after multiple attempts) which applies to Samsung S10 series “beyond0lte, beyond1lte, beyond2lte” https://forum.xda-developers.com/t/recovery-official-3-6-0-x-twrp-for-galaxy-s10-e-5g-exynos.4180287/. Great precision is required to do each step in sequence, including the exact points you connect or disconnect the USB cable.

Region Lock

A Region or Regional lock can be applied to a brand new phone (perhaps sometimes to a “new” refurbished phone). When a phone is used “normally” in its intended market this will lift (according to the terms of the lock). An example of EU terms, the owner of this device was deemed to have accepted the terms in breaking the seal. This will display on Odin mode screen as Prenormal

RRM-Prenormal

Imported device

In the case of a Samsung phone sold in a non-intended market, say a European or Asian market device somehow imported to USA, then the above Regional terms can never be met (by official means).

Carrier locked bootloader

A Carrier SIM lock aims to prevent you from using the device on another carrier’s network.

Carrier bootloader locking is less easy to document. The following link shows the perspective that a carrier might use Knox Vault Samsung Knox | Support

OEM Unlock - toggle now missing

You started the Software workflow but now the device seems locked again. Firstly. When you unlock you device correctly and Factory reset, the device will now be locked again (as this is the factory default). It will be necessary to go back to About phone > Build number, Tap 7 times on Build number. This releases Developer options. Back to Settings > System > Advanced > (newly appeared at foot of page) Developer options > Android debugging > ON and also OEM unlocking > UNLOCK. Android debugging is also known as USB debugging.

This article from June 2018 https://www.xda-developers.com/fix-missing-oem-unlock-samsung-galaxy-s9-samsung-galaxy-s8-samsung-galaxy-note-8/ describes this situation: Samsung allows unlocking the bootloader on the international versions of their phones. But on the Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy S9, and Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the ‘OEM unlocking’ option only becomes available after 7 days of activating the device and adding a Samsung or Google account to the device. The article provides a short cut to waiting 7 days.

Possible: double check you removed all accounts and passwords and they didn’t return when you later used the phone.

Bonne chance.

Post script

What about Fastboot?

The author had made the descision not to mention fastboot as it was thought unhelpful to the target audience. Our software documentation suggests users to avoid fastboot by utilising Odin or Heildall both mentioned above.

To readers familiar with Fastboot on other devices it might come as a shock to find that

fastboot devices

gives an unhelpful reply! To those readers, just avoid fastboot commands. Most adb commands are fine but, for instance, a phone equipped with Download mode may not cope with:

adb reboot bootloader
15 Likes
Samsung Galaxy S9 "only official released binaries are allowed to be flashed(RECOVERY)"
Trying to take a Samsung S9 from /e/ Oreo to /e/ Q
ADB drivers for Samsung Galaxy S9
Unable to finish /e/ installation on Samsung Galaxy S8
EasyInstaller Re-requested OEM Unlocked after wiping Samsung S9
Update e-0.9-p-2020072865179 for Samsung S5 (klte) fails with "system ui is not responding"
S7 easy installer stuck on boot screen
List of HOWTOs & add your suggestions
Samsung S9+ stuck on 'Keep read only' install step
Samsung galaxy s7 - stuck on TWRP screen or Download mode
[HowTo] un Projet de Guide d' Installation Unifié pour **/e/**
[HowTo] un Projet de Guide d' Installation Unifié pour **/e/**
/e/ installation on galaxy s9 plus can't get into Teamwin
Factory data reset
Samsung Galaxy S9 "only official released binaries are allowed to be flashed(RECOVERY)"
Stuck on Teamwin Logo
Needing help for several reasons
Installation of e/OS fails on Samsung S9 DualSim
Samsung - Galaxy S III (LTE / International) - i9305 - Documentation Suggestions
Samsung - Galaxy S10 - beyond1lte - Documentation Suggestions
Samsung - Galaxy S10 - beyond1lte - Documentation Suggestions
Not so easy easy installer
Help! In the middle of installation
What key combination to boot into TWRP?
/e/ Installer says S7 SM_G930W8 Not Supported
Cant check integrity
Installing e/OS on a Samsung Note 10
Stuck in download mode after installing TWRP
Unable to start TWRP on Samsung S8
Someone to install for me?
TWRP installation error Samsung S8
Samsung Galaxy S7 Upgrading from Android 8 Oreo to 10 Q
Easy Installer Samsung Galaxy S9 no Teamwin
Easy-Installer + Samsung S9+
Samsung Galaxy S9+ (SM-G965F) /e/ installation TWRP blocked (RMM STATE: Prenormal)
Install /e/OS on Samsung S8 SF-G950F
My S10e is stuck at Samsung boot logo after install
Samsung - Galaxy S9 - starlte - Documentation Suggestions
Samsung - Galaxy S9 - starlte - Documentation Suggestions
Is there a ROM available to flash with odin?
Samsung - Galaxy S10 - beyond1lte - Documentation Suggestions
Flashing an Android 10 vendor onto Galaxy S9+ in order to upgrade from Oreo to Q
Is there a TWRP image for Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite (Wi-Fi) “gta4xlwifi”
Stuck on Teamwin Logo
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini- Help Installing
Are steps necessary before installing /e/ in order to be able to revert back to Android?
Problem installing /e/ on Galaxy S10 (SM-G973F dual-sim)
Broken galaxy s2 g9100 with odin - how to fix?
[HOWTO] an Unified Install Guide Project for /e/
Install /e/ on Samsung SM-G960F "starlte"
Samsung Galaxy Tab6 Lite install /e/
Week 46 : Development and Testing Updates
Easy Installer stops on Tap on ‘Do not install’ - [Edit, TWRP.apk] - SM-G950F
S9+: Unable to update to eos1.4 due to TWRP will not Decrypt Data
Problem installing /e/ on Galaxy S10 (SM-G973F dual-sim)
Troubleshooting Bootloop Galaxy J7 when install /e/ img with heimdall
Samsung S6 Lite: problem with installation
Stuck in download mode
Stuck in download mode
Not receiving calls or texts
S9+ not rcognized
Installing /e/ on galaxy tab S2 Wifi
Downgrading android 12 to 11 on a samsung galaxy s10e and installing /e/
/How to/ install /e/ R on a samsung galaxy s10e already running android 12
SIM not detected SM-G960F after OTA Upgrade
Galaxy S9+ Installation with easy-Installer on WIN - no booting in TWRP
Drivers for s9 plus on windows 7?
Samsung A310F not starting anymore after heimdall img transfer
Phone backup before /e/OS installation
S9 Stuck at the e's bouncy dot after update
Flasch S8 avec easy-installer
Easy installer fails with Samsung S8 - Only official released binaries are allowed to be flashed
[HOWTO] Install /e/ on a Samsung smartphone with Windows easily
Samsung Galaxy S9 "only official released binaries are allowed to be flashed(RECOVERY)"
/e/ installation on galaxy s9 plus can't get into Teamwin
/e/ installation on galaxy s9 plus can't get into Teamwin
Installing /e/ on al Galaxy S9 - interrupting after TWRP is installed
Help needed: Upgrading from Replicant
Installing /e/ on a Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) a5y17lte running Android 8.0
Upgrading starlte to Android 10 on S9
[HOWTO] an Unified Install Guide Project for /e/
Installation issues using easyinstaller with Samsung S8
Accidentally reset my Galaxy S9 to factory settings, now it's not recognized by easy installer
Apply update - scary
S9Plus Installation failed
Install e on Samsung Note 10
Arch Linux does not recognise my device when in the downloaded mode
Got stuck: Odin fails to flash vbmeta.tar "Only official released binaries are allowed to be flashed (vbmeta)"
Cannot boot into TWRP after upgrade to v1.0
Newbie questions - general
Easy Installer stops on Tap on ‘Do not install’ - [Edit, TWRP.apk] - SM-G950F
Help.How to erase E and revert to the original ROM
S9+ install stuck at step "Downloading... Do not turn off target"
[LIST] Devices working with the Easy Installer
Un « /e/ pour les nuls »?
Samsung S7 Edge fail to open recovery_cause(No such file or directory) loop
Passer de la 0.19 Oreo à 0.19 Q sur S9
TWRP installation error Samsung S5 Neo
Galaxy s7 nougat or oreo?
Week 19, 2022 : Development and Testing Updates
Encryption unsuccessful / Galaxy 9+
Hung installation on Samsung S9+
[HOWTO] Install /e/ on a Samsung smartphone with Windows easily
I9305- Flash this patch on your Device
Samsung s9 install e/os with easy installer failed
SAMSUNG Galaxy A7 (2018) - help with first time GSI
Easy Installer bleibt stehen
Samsung Galaxy S7 unresponsive and unable to boot into EDL
Samsung Galaxy S6 sm-G920F
No new Easy Installer instructions/steps after 'Do not install' TWRP
Waiting for teamwin message
No new Easy Installer instructions/steps after 'Do not install' TWRP
Samsung Galaxy Tab6 Lite install /e/
Samsung Galaxy S9+ help request
Stuck on Installation to S9+
Bootloop issue (SM-G950F)

Hi @aibd thanks for taking the time to write this. The whole point of having a forum is users get to pitch in and share their knowledge with others. That is what makes a forum great. I have made the post editable.

8 Likes