How to rebuild the Samsung Galaxy S5 GPS NVRAM

Of course you want to return to TouchWiz to fix a problem. Ha, no you don’t.

Note: if you’re not running a custom ROM – i.e. you’re running stock TouchWiz – and need to do this, see Phase 4 only. You’ll need to be rooted.

If you’re running a custom ROM on your S5 and GPS can’t get a fix despite rebooting, battery pulling, flashing new builds, and using all of GPS Status & Toolbox‘s tricks, chances are you’ll need to do rebuild the GPS NVRAM. Here’s how.

Phase 1: Backup your current custom ROM installation.

Instructions (which assume you use TWRP) in Phase 9 here.

Phase 2: Wipe the phone in TWRP.

  1. Boot into TWRP.
  2. Tap Wipe.
  3. Swipe to wipe using the default settings.

Phase 2: Flash the latest baseband in Odin.

  1. Find the latest baseband under the “Odin” heading here. If the files there are .tar archives, you’ll need to extract the .bin baseband files (usually called modem.bin and/or NON-HLOS.bin) from them.
  2. Flash it using instructions in Phase 3 here. You will need to do perform this for modem.bin and NON-HLOS.bin separately as ODIN reboots the phone after each individual flash.

Phase 3: Restore your rooted TouchWiz ROM.

If you don’t already have one of those, here’s how to get one. If you’re setting up a rooted TouchWiz ROM for the 1st time then you don’t have to restore anything because it’ll already be running, so you can proceed to the next phase.

Otherwise:

  1. Boot into TWRP.
  2. Tap Restore.
  3. Tap Select Storage.
  4. Select the folder containing the backup.
  5. Swipe to restore.

Phase 4: Rebuild the GPS NVRAM.

  1. Boot into TouchWiz.
  2. Install Shotcut Master (Lite).
  3. Follow these instructions starting from “Open ‘Secret Explorer’ menu” onward onto the 3rd to last sentence.

Phase 3: Wipe the phone in TWRP.

Same process as Phase 2.

Phase 4: Restore the backup you made in Phase 1.

Same process as Phase 3, but with the custom ROM backup instead.

GPS should be back to working now. I have no idea what causes this problem, but so far this is the most involved custom ROM-related fix I’ve had to do.

How to make and flash your own rooted stock Lollipop TouchWiz ROM for the Verizon S5

If you’re reading this, you’re probably trying to solve a frustrating problem. Relax, I’m here to help.

The following are prerequisites for this to work:

  • Rooted Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5 (SM-G900V) with unlocked bootloader.
  • TWRP custom recovery installed.
  • 7-Zip installed on your PC.
  • SuperSU downloaded to the top level directory of a USB flash drive.
  • A USB OTG cable.

Steps:

  1. Download full stock firmware.
  2. From the above archive, extract system.img.ext4, boot.img, modem.bin, NON-HLOS.bin, into a new folder on your PC.
  3. Open 7-Zip.
  4. Navigate to the folder containing the files from Step 2.
  5. Select all files from Step 2.
  6. Click Add.
  7. In the Add to Archive window that pops up, enter a filename and desired path.
  8. Click the Archive Format dropdown.
  9. Click tar.
  10. Click OK to make the files into a .tar archive
  11. Flash the .tar archive from Step 4 in Odin using the AP slot as described here.
  12. Boot into the ROM and set it up as you would a new phone, including updating all the apps on it.
  13. Boot into TWRP.
  14. Connect the USB flash drive containing SuperSU to the S5 using the USB OTG cable.
  15. In TWRP, tap Install.
  16. Tap Select Storage.
  17. Tap USB Storage.
  18. Select the SuperSU .zip file.
  19. Swipe to flash SuperSU.

And that’s it. This will give you a fully stock, rooted Lollipop ROM you can boot right into.

If you run custom ROMs, the stock ROM is pretty useful to keep handy as some troubleshooting methods (especially advanced ones involving the baseband) work on it only. As such, it’s a pretty good idea to back it up so you can restore it as needed. Instructions found in Phase 9 here.

 

Mythbusting adoptable storage

Samsung, LG, and Sony are lying to us.

Time to clear the air on a couple adoptable storage myths propagated mostly by Samsung and LG as excuses for why the feature is absent from their ROMs as shipped.

I have 2 devices with adoptable storage enabled: an Nvidia Shield K1 running stock Shield software and a Samsung SM-G900V (Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5) running CM 13.0 nightly. Both OSes are based on Android 6.0.1. The feature works perfectly on both with no slowdowns or delays.

Sadly, much of the confusion about the feature stems from Google’s poor communication about it to begin with. The fact that the most extensive technical writeup on the feature is a Reddit post – some of which I disagree with based on my own experience – is quite damning.

Let’s start with what adoptable storage actually does. The best analog of adoptable storage in its default implementation is moving your personal files to a slower hard drive on your PC while keeping your apps on a fast SSD. That’s what adoptable storage does by default. It just changes the location of your personal files to the microSD card and reserves your phone’s eMMC or UFS storage for apps.

Myth: Adoptable storage slows your phone down.

Relative to keeping all your data on internal storage, this is correct. But when flagships ship with only 32 GB of storage in 2016 when even $600 laptops ship with 1TB, the assumption that users would only ever use the phone’s internal storage is anachronistic at best.

Once the portable storage use case enters the picture, the speed argument falls flat because both portable storage and adoptable storage fetch user data from microSD while running apps on internal storage. Oh, and local storage will always be faster, more accessible, and  more reliable than cloud storage, so comparing adoptable storage to pulling files from the cloud is also nonsensical.

Significant slowdowns happen ONLY if you move your apps to the SD card also, which doesn’t happen by default on the devices on which I have it enabled. Or at least, it doesn’t seem to happen on devices with >= 16 GB of built-in storage (Then again, implementation seems to have been left up to ROM developers). Unless you run TouchWiz or play a lot of games, Android apps are very space efficient. Here’s the storage on my S5 runniung CM 13 with 101 apps (not counting the Open GApps package) installed from the Play Store:

Screenshot_20160417-172235
Apps take up very little space on stock Android

Myth: You lose access to your internal storage.

Wrong. Rooted users can still read and write to internal storage using apps like Root Explorer, but other non-privileged apps won’t be able to do the same.

Myth: You need portable storage to transfer files to PCs, and adoptable storage ruins that.

How, in 2016, “experts” are recommending sneakernet for file transfer is beyond me. Popping a microSD card out of your phone to put files onto a PC makes as much sense as pulling the PC’s user data hard drive to transfer files onto another PC.

The easiest way to transfer files to a PC from a phone are apps like Send Anywhere, FTP, SAMBA, or BitTorrent Sync, or hardware features such as USB OTG. There’s absolutely zero reason to insert your microSD card into your PC, especially since doing so can cause other problems.

Myth: There’s no advantage to adoptable storage over portable storage.

The only real disadvantage is fast(er) eMMC/UFS internal storage is no longer accessible for personal data use, but this is relevant only to users who have very small media libraries. Once your library exceeds the paltry free storage available on current 32 GB flagships, adoptable storage is the best route.

Adoptable storage gives the rest of us with GBs of documents and media a gigantic (relative to internal) block of storage that any app can read or write to. Compare that to portable storage, where App A can’t modify App B’s microSD files. It also blows cloud storage out of the water in terms of speed, availability, subscription cost, and mobile data usage.

Myth: microSD cards are unreliable.

Adoptable storage SD cards aren’t any more or less reliable than portable storage ones. You get what you pay for. Cheap, off-brand, and low spec cards will be awful. Ensure you’re using U3 rated card at the very least. I recommend Samsung, SanDisk, and Kingston cards, in that order.

I’ve had a great experience with the Samsung Micro SD Pro+ 128GB. Get it.

How to unlock the bootloader, install and update LineageOS on the Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5

Hi, I’m here to rescue you from forum hell.

NOTE: This guide was originally written for CM 13.0 but is in the process of being updated for LineageOS. Except for OS name and version number, the steps should be exactly the same.

The following should work for rooted (instructions on how to do that) Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5s (SM-G900V, kltevzw) running stock Android 5.0 Lollipop and 15 Samsung eMMCs (see Phase 0 to determine whether your S5 satisfies the eMMC requirement). As of this writing, it does not work for S5s with 11 Toshiba eMMCs. Due to the possibility of the bootloader unlock exploit being patched in the Marshmallow update, I’d highly suggest doing this BEFORE updating to any stock Marshmallow OTA.

The steps below can also be long, hard, and frustrating. They will also wipe your phone (SD card included) except for personal files on internal eMMC storage, so make sure everything you need on the card is backed up. Also ensure this is something you really want to do and/or there’s a phone out there you’d actually feel good about buying in case you brick your S5.

The upside is you’ll be getting the latest version of Android long before the official Verizon update, you’ll no longer be trapped in Verizon’s byzantine update process, and you get adoptable storage.

If you get stuck, hit up any of the forum threads linked to at the end of the post for assistance.

Phase 0: Check to see if your phone is supported.

  1. Install Root Explorer or ES File Exploer/Manager Pro (actually, any file explorer with root access and browsing works).
  2. Launch Root Explorer and grant it root access.
  3. Tap the ROOT tab.
  4. Open the file /sys/block/mmcblk0/device/cid. If the number you see in that file starts with 15, your device is supported and you may continue. If not, you’ll have to wait for a matching exploit.
  5. Charge your S5 to 100% as some steps involve the phone being completely disconnected from USB.

Phase 1: Download everything you need, install some of them.

  1. Download and install Flashfire. If that link doesn’t work for you, opt into the testing channel and then try it again.
  2. Download and install Busybox.
  3. Open Busybox, tap INSTALL and wait for the process to complete.
  4. Download SamsungUnlockerS5.apk to your device, but don’t install it yet.
  5. Download and install the latest Samsung USB drivers on your PC (scroll down to where it says Manuals & Downloads).
  6. Download the latest Odin archive to your PC and decompress the archive.
  7. Download the latest TWRP *.img file.
  8. Download the lastest CyanogenMod 13.0 (CM 13.0) nightly build to your device’s eMMC internal storage.
  9. Download Open GApps:
    1. At the webpage above, check the radio buttons for ARM under Platform, 6.0 under Android, and stock under Variant. Flashing this combination later on will give you the same stock Google apps as a Nexus device.
    2. Click the download icon.
    3. Transfer Open GApps to your S5’s internal eMMC storage.
  10. Download the latest firmware (referred to as “baseband” in Settings -> About Phone) for the S5’s radio. Use the latest *non-hlos file under the “Odin” heading here. If your baseband >= what’s listed there, skip this step. If the files are .tar.md5, you will need to extract the .bin files from them using 7-Zip or some other similar utility.

Do not run BlueStacks or any such emulation/virtualization applications on your PC during the unlocking or installation process as it may interfere with Odin’s functionality.

Though you should’t need it for this process, the entire NCG ROM (baseband, etc.) is here. Some commenters have found it useful, so there it is.

Phase 2: Disable reactivation lock.

I put this in its own phase because it’s that important. If reactivation lock is enabled you won’t be able to wipe and reset the phone as needed for this to work.

Follow the instructions for the S5 here.

Phase 3: Flash the new baseband to the S5 using Odin.

This will ensure your phone can connect properly to Verizon’s network.

  1. Follow Steps 12 to 16 here.
  2. Click the CP button and select the baseband file.
  3. Click Open.
  4. Wait for the messages in the Message window to settle on Added!!!.
  5. Click Start. Odin will update the S5’s baseband and reboot the phone.
  6. Upon rebooting, ensure the baseband installation was successful by checking Settings -> About Phone. The last 3 letters of the version number should match those of the firmware you flashed (e.g. PB1).
  7. You will need to do Steps 1 to 6 above for both modem.bin & NON-HLOS.bin files.

Phase 4: Unlock the bootloader.

This will wipe your SD card. Ensure you’ve backed up anything on it you want to keep before this. It will, however, leave the phone’s eMMC storage untouched.

  1. Disconnect your phone from any USB power or data source. Be sure to do this or the S5 will relock the bootloader upon rebooting.
  2. Install SamsungUnlockerS5.
  3. Launch the above app.
  4. Grant root access when prompted.
  5. Tap the Install SamBootloader Unlocker button.
  6. Grant root access again.
  7. Wait for the terminal to appear (it may take a minute or 2). Do not do anything else on the phone during this wait time except ensure the screen stays alive.
  8. When prompted, type Yes.
  9. Hit Enter and wait for the phone to turn off.
  10. Boot into download mode by pressing Volume Down, Power, and Home buttons simultaneously.
  11. Press Volume Up at the prompt.
  12. To confirm the bootloader is unlocked, ensure the line MODE: DEVELOPER appears on the 3rd to last line in the upper left of the screen. If it doesn’t, repeat steps 1 to 11 again as you probably missed something.
  13. Turn the phone off, then turn it on again to boot back into stock Lollipop.

This Phase can be tricky. If it doesn’t work the first time:

  1. Turn the phone off and ensure it’s disconnected from any USB or other power source.
  2. Remove the battery.
  3. Wait 30 seconds.
  4. Put battery back in.
  5. Turn phone on and boot into stock Android.
  6. Reinstall BusyBox.
  7. Reboot the phone into stock Android.
  8. Install the .apk again.
  9. Run through the unlock process again.

Phase 5: Move necessary files to root of microSD card.

  1. Move the CM 13.0 nightly build and Open GApps archives to the root of your  microSD card. Note that we didn’t move them earlier as the bootloader unlock would have wiped both files.

Phase 6: Flash the custom TWRP build.

  1. Open Flashfire (general documentation).
  2. Tap the floating action button.
  3. Tap Flash firmware package.
  4. Select the *klte.img file from Phase 1 Step 7.
  5. Tap Flash. The S5 will reboot into stock Lollipop.
  6. Turn the phone off.
  7. To check whether the recovery flash was successful, press Volume Up, Power, and Home simultaneously. This should boot the S5 into the new recovery environment (ignore any SEAndroid errors as long as booting into recovery is successful).

Phase 7: Install CM 13.0 AND Open GApps.

  1. Reconnect the phone to a USB power source to ensure there’s no power failure during the installation.
  2. While still in the recovery environment, follow Steps 7 – 9 here.
  3. Select the option to add additional zips/packages and add Open GApps to the list. This is important, as firing up CM 13.0 without Google Apps can be a very bad time.
  4. Swipe to Install both archives as indicated.

And that’s it! After both packages are installed the S5 will then boot into CM 13.0 and you can set it up from there. And because your SIM didn’t change and your baseband is the latest version, you don’t have to worry about reactivating the phone.

Phase 8: Getting started with CM 13.0.

A few pointers to get you up to speed:

  1. CM 13.0 takes significantly longer to boot than stock Lollipop, though this may be due to my having adoptable storage enabled.
  2. Root access is managed neatly from within Developer Options, which you enable by following these steps.
  3. Yes, adoptable storage works beautifully and doesn’t slow the phone down at all.
  4. Google Camera is absolutely terrible on the S5. Use Camera MX instead.
  5. Ignore any SIM card errors you see upon booting up, they usually go away once the radio is initialized, which may take a minute. Just be patient.
  6. You can access the hidden phone info app for troubleshooting by entering *#*#4636#*#* from the dialer.

Phase 9: Backup your CM installation before updating your build.

This is unfortunately tricky due to TWRP’s current tendency to corrupt adoptable storage. Option A below ensures TWRP never (phyiscally) touches your storage  – which should (note the emphasis. It’s possible a dirty flash or backup might cause the OS to “forget” the adopted storage, but so far I haven’t seen that happen) provide 100% protection against corruption – while Option B is significantly less safe but doesn’t involve physically pulling the phone apart.

Option A: Remove the microSD card before doing anything.

  1. Power off the S5.
  2. Remove microSD card.
  3. Boot into TWRP.
  4. Do all the steps below and in Phase 10 with the microSD card omitted.
  5. Power off the S5 again.
  6. Put the microSD card back in.
  7. Reboot into system.

Option B: Follow the below instructions as written instead.

Yes, this is a separate and necessary phase as nightly build bugs can be bad enough to require either restoring a full backup or a clean install to recover from. Seriously. Read the horror story at the link.

CAUTION: There is a semi-known issue with TWRP that it corrupts USB drives if they are connected while the phone is rebooted back to System and corrupts (adopted) SD cards if updates are installed from them.

The workaround for this is to simply avoid doing both: DO NOT install updates directly from the adopted SD card. Install them from Internal Storage only. Do not reboot from TWRP into System with the USB drive connected and/or selected in TWRP or with the SD card selected. ALWAYS reboot to System from TWRP with Internal Storage selected and no USB storage attached.

To backup your phone:

  1. Get a USB 2.0 OTG cable and 16+ GB USB 2.0+ flash drive with nothing else on it.
  2. (ExFAT) format the drive by 1 of:
    1. Using the PC instructions here.
    2. Connecting it to the S5 via the OTG cable and going to Settings -> Storage & USB.
    3. Tap the notification that appears when the drive is connected.
  3. Reboot into recovery.
  4. Connect the OTG cable and drive to the S5.
  5. Tap Backup.
  6. Tap Select Storage.
  7. Tap USB.
  8. Tap OK.
  9. Under the BACKUP tab, ensure BootSystem, and Data are checked.
  10. Under the OPTIONS tab, check Skip MD5 generation during backup.MD5 sounds like a nice idea, but it only checks for and doesn’t fix backup corruption. In other words, if your backup is toast, MD5 won’t actually fix the problem and you’ll find out about the corruption during restoration anyway. Besides, the official OTA updates don’t use it. The last reason not to use MD5 is it nearly doubles backup times compared to not using both it and compression.
  11. Under the BACKUP tab, Swipe to Backup.
  12. When the backup is complete, tab BACK.
    THE NEXT STEPS ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO AVOID CORRUPTION OF THE USB DRIVE. DO NOT SKIP THEM.
  13. Tap Select Storage.
  14. Tap Internal Storage.
  15. Tap OK.
  16. Disconnect the USB drive from the S5.

As an added precaution, connect the USB drive to another Android device or PC to ensure the it hasn’t been corrupted before proceeding with an update.

I don’t advise enabling compression or encryption; backing up my 200+ app installation with them disabled takes around 300 seconds (TWRP gives you time report at the end). With MD5 enabled, that jumps to around 500 seconds. With both MD5 and compression enabled, backups take a whopping 1300 seconds, which isn’t worth it for a daily operation. Just get a sufficiently large drive; they’re inexpensive enough.

Phase 10: Updating CM 13.0 in place with adoptable storage enabled.

If you have adoptable storage enabled want to update your nightly build, do this:

  1. Tap About Phone -> CyanogenMod updates.
  2. Hit the refresh icon and download the build when prompted.
  3. After the download is complete, use an explorer app with root access to move the archive (found in /cmupdater on the microSD card) to /data/Media/0/twrp (you may have to create the latter folder if it doesn’t already exist).
  4. Boot into recovery as in Phase 6 Step 7 and install the update as in Phase 7. None of your apps or data will be affected.
  5. When the update is complete, tap Wipe cache/Dalvik.
  6. Swipe to Wipe and wait for the operation to complete.
  7. Tap Reboot System.

How does it all run? Here’s my review of CM 13.0 on the S5.

Here’s how to get back to a stock rooted ROM (while leaving your unlocked bootloader and custom recovery in place) if you ever need to.

Thanks GeTex (bootloader unlock thread), jrkruse (SamsungUnlockerS5.apk), haggertk (CM 13.0 kltevzw build thread), keysoh2 (how to flash firmware/modem in ODIN), Dees_Troy (TWRP klte build thread) and M1chiel (updating CM 13.0 with adoptable storage enabled) for the methods used in this post.

If you’re having problems, comment or get back to the threads linked to above.

How to update your Verizon S5 from KitKat to Lollipop without losing root or your apps

As usual, everything that would be routine on the desktop is infinitely harder and hacky on mobile.

As with previous guides, this one is more detailed version/composite of forum posts, which are linked to. The aim here is to make the process easily understandable for those who aren’t used to flashing or rooting. It applies to the Samsung SM-G900V only.

Phase -1 (OPTIONAL, for adventurous rooted KitKat users): Take the Lollipop OTA update

Yes, you will lose root in the process. But you’ll also get your apps and data updated in-place to Lollipop and ART, thus possibly reducing the odds of CPU/battery life/heat problems later. I haven’t tried this myself, but it’s an idea. Remember to unfreeze/restore any apps you may have disabled or frozen via Titanium Backup first, or the OTA may fail.

Phase 0: Back up all your apps and data

  1. Ensure you have a 32+ GB microSD card installed. The entire update process relies on external storage, and the last thing you want is run out of space.
  2. Back up your apps and data. This guide uses Titanium Backup Pro (TBP), which is the most widely used and thus has the most community support. Unfortunately, it requires root in the first place, which means unrooted users on Lollipop will have to try an alternative such as Helium.* The basic process should still be the same, however: backup your apps and data initially, then restore your data only (if coming from KitKat, to avoid ART & Dalvik conflicts) afterwards.
    1. Install TBP.
    2. Open TBP.
    3. Set the location of the backup folder:
      1. Tap MENU.
      2. Tap Preferences …
      3. Ensure Auto-sync TB settings is checked.
      4. Under Backup settings, tap Backup folder location.
      5. Select (or create if one doesn’t already exist) a folder on your SD card.
      6. Tap Use the current folder to save your setting.
    4. Return to the app’s front page and tap the batch ✔ icon to the left of MENU.
    5. Under Backup, tap RUN for Backup all user apps.
    6. Tap SELECT ALL. If you have Microsoft Office installed, uncheck it. For some reason TBP chokes when attempting to restore data for it, so just omit it.
    7. Ensure the Pause active apps radio button is engaged. This will ensure all your apps get backed up even if they’re currently running.
    8. Tap the ✔ icon and wait for the backup process to complete. It may take a while depending on how many apps you have, so be patient. When that process completes, head to Phase 1.

Phase 1: Download the rooted Lollipop ROM and the recovery environment needed to install it

  1. Download G900V_OC4_100%_Stock_Rooted_ROM.zip to the top level directory of your SD card. A top level location makes the file easier to find in Safestrap, whose UI is extremely basic.
  2. Download Safestrap-G900V-3.75-KitKat.apk to your SD card.
  3. If you’re on Lollipop, proceed to Phase 2. If you’re on KitKat, proceed to Phase 3.

Phase 2 (unrooted Lollipop only): Downgrade to the KitKat NK2 build

  1. Follow the steps here.
  2. Proceed to Phase 3.

Phase 3: Install Safestrap

  1. Follow the HOW DO I INSTALL SAFESTRAP? instructions here.

Phase 4: Update to the rooted Lollipop ROM

  1. Follow the instructions here.
  2. Upon booting into Lollipop, the OS will ask if you’d like to restore your apps from your previous device. Accept the offer. Note that this will NOT restore the data associated with these apps, despite the prompt’s claim. You’ll do actual data restoration in a later phase. If you’re on a metered data plan, be sure to connect to Wi-Fi as soon as you can to prevent your data being used for app downloads. Wait for the reinstallation process to complete.

Phase 5: Restore your app data

  1. Reinstall TBP.
  2. Set TBP’s backup folder to be the same one you selected in Phase 0 above. This should load not only the backups you made but your previous settings also.
  3. Return to the app’s front page and tap the batch ✔ icon to the left of MENU.
  4. Under Restore, tap RUN for Restore all apps with data.
  5. Tap SELECT ALL.
  6. Ensure the Data only radio button is engaged.
  7. Ensure Exclude system APKs is checked.
  8. Tap the ✔ icon and wait for the restore process to complete. Note that some system apps, such as Smart Remote, won’t be restored and so you’ll have to set them up from scratch instead. If you are coming from rooted KitKat originally, I would not suggest you try to restore them either as they could have been under the hood changes that may not play well with the restored data.

Phase 6 (Optional): Wipe your system cache

  1. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s useful in case you have CPU usage/battery drain/heat issues after the update. Follow these instructions.

* Having never used Helium before, I can’t provide or verify any instructions for it. Sorry.

Images slow to load over Wi-Fi on your Android device? Try this.

Poor tech installation = problems.

I recently noticed my Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5 (SM-G900V running Android 4.4.4) was really slow at downloading images on Instagram, Trivia Crack, etc., but only when connected to my ASUS RT-N66U home router. It was very snappy at doing the same on 4G and on Wi-Fi outside of my home. Phone speed test results using my router were excellent: 101 Mb/s up, 10.25 Mb/s down, 21 ms latency, 0% packet loss. Wireless link speed was 300 Mbps. No other wireless client in my home had this issue.

The following fix attempts did nothing to help:

  • Clearing the Android system cache.
  • Clearing Google Play Services data.
  • Router factory settings reset.
  • Toggling router DNS between ISP and OpenDNS.
  • Enabling/disabling QoS on router.
  • Enabling/disabling DoS prevention on router.
  • Renaming SSID.
  • Forgetting SSIDs in Android and reconnecting.
  • Restoring the S5’s hosts file.
  • Fiddling with almost every other router setting imaginable.

This lead me to Google “Instagram slow to download pics over Wi-Fi,” whereupon I discovered this thread. One of the recommended solutions there was to create a guest Wi-Fi network and use that instead. I did so and found that it fixed the image download problem, which meant that the fault was neither with my router nor my phone, but with a device on my regular LAN.

I subscribe to Mediacom triple play service that includes TiVo whole home DVR and VoIP phone service. The TiVo DVR and Mini units are connected to the LAN via an Actiontec ECB2500C MoCA Network Adapter as described here. The VoIP uses an ISP-supplied Cisco DPC3208 VoIP cable modem the Mediacom installer had connected to one of my gigabit switches. Note that the Cisco is separate and distinct from my own Motorola SURFboard SB6120 DOCSIS 3.0 modem that is my true internet gateway.

I started disconnecting devices from the LAN and checking the S5 after each one. Upon disconnecting the VoIP modem from the LAN, I saw a slight improvement. Upon disconnecting the MoCA adapter, the problem went away entirely.

Unfortunately, disconnecting the Actiontec KOed the TiVo service’s internet connection. After connecting the adapter to 1 of my switches instead didn’t work, I put it back where it was. I left the VoIP modem disconnected from my LAN since I could live without VoIP – I use my cellphone for calls anyway – but absolutely needed TiVo to work. Eventually I wound up with nearly everything on my network powered down: the adapter as well as all TiVo devices, PCs, switches, game consoles, and TVs.

I then powered up the devices in the following order: MoCA adapter, cable modem, router, VoIP modem (without reconnecting it to the LAN), TiVo head unit, Tivo Minis (in sequence), and then PCs. That fixed the problem completely.

I suspect the problem was the VoIP modem presented itself as an internet gateway to some apps on my S5, causing them to try – and fail – to use it to download media.

If you’re having the same problem, do the following:

  1. Power down literally all the networking equipment you have, including MoCA adapters, modems, switches, cable/satellite boxes, etc.
  2. If your VoIP modem is separate from the modem your router is connected to, ensure it is NOT connected to your LAN
  3. Power everything back up in the order I specified above.

How to safely move your apps and files to a new microSD card on Android

Need to upgrade your microSD card but don’t want corrupted files? Do this.

There are quite a few horror stories floating around about corrupted files after switching microSD cards, so I wrote this guide so others could avoid that problem. The phone used in this post in the Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5 (SM-G900V), and the PC OS is Windows 8.1. This method will transfer everything (data and apps) from the old card to the new one:

  1. Dismount the old SD card from your phone. (If that doesn’t work, turn the device off completely and remove the card).
  2. Mount the microSD card on your PC.* You’ll probably have to use a microSD adapter for this as most PCs lack native microSD support. DO NOT AT ANY TIME FORMAT ANY microSD CARD THAT YOU INTEND TO USE IN AN ANDROID DEVICE ON YOUR PC.
  3. In File Explorer, click the View tab.
  4. Check the Hidden Items box.
  5. Using File Explorer, copy the contents of the old SD card into a temporary folder on your PC.
  6. Eject the old SD card from your PC.
  7. Mount the new SD card on your Android device.
  8. Format the new SD card on your Android device.
  9. Dismount the new SD card from your Android device.
  10. Mount the new card on your PC as in Step 2.
  11. Copy the contents of the old SD card from the temporary folder in Step 5 to the new card. If you get file path length errors, ignore them for now.
  12. Eject the new SD card from your PC.
  13. Mount the new card on your Android device and ensure it’s working properly.**
  14. If you got file path length errors in Step 11, use BitTorrent Sync to sync the troublesome folders with the full file paths. You can also use FTP for that purpose.

(Optionally, but a good idea for data security) wipe the old SD card by formatting it in your Android device

  1. (Optionally, but a good idea for data security) wipe the old SD card by formatting it in your Android device. Dismount the new card from your Android device.
  2. Remove the new card from your Android device.
  3. Mount the old card on your Android device.
  4. Format the old card on your Android device.
  5. Dismount the old card from your Android device. Note that the card hasn’t been absolutely securely wiped, but this will prevent your files from accidentally showing up on someone else’s device if you give it to them.
  6. Mount the new card on your Android device.

* TouchWiz uses the exFAT file system for microSD cards. I assume this is the case for most Android ROMs as exFAT is the only advanced (read: FAT32+) file system with out of the box read/write support on all major OSes. ** Credit to DopeShow for this method.

The (Verizon) Samsung Galaxy S5 doesn’t support Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0

Samsung and Qualcomm totally drop the ball.

Despite the Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5 (SM-G900V) CPU (Qualcomm Snapdragon 801) being listed as Quick Charge 2.0 capable on Qualcomm’s site and claims to that effect on various blogs, the phone doesn’t support the charging standard in testing.

Here’s what I tested my S5 with:

No combination of the above worked. I’ve reached out to Samsung Support about when this might change, but got this rather unhelpful reply:

I’ve also started a Verizon support question thread.

In the mean time, I’ll be RMAing the Tenergy. It cost $20.39 and slow charges the S5 on long USB cables, while the OEM charger costs as little as $7.49 without the same drawback. That’s a no-brainer.

How to switch back to Google Voice from Verizon Visual Voicemail

Verizon thinks you’d actually want to use Visual Voicemail instead of the far better – and free – Google Voice. Ha. Nope.

Uh oh, you OTA updated your Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5 (SM-G900V) and now Google Voice doesn’t work. It seems to have been replaced by the plague known as Visual Voicemail. Here’s how to fix that:

  1. First you’ll have to ensure that Google Voice is the default voice mail app in your phone’s settings. In Settings tap Applications.
  2. Tap Call.
  3. Scroll down to the VOICE MAIL heading.
  4. Ensure that Google Voice is listed under Voice Mail service. If it isn’t, tap that option and select it.
  5. Now to disable Visual Voicemail. Launch the app. More than likely you’ll have been pre-enrolled in a free 30-day premium trial, so you’ll have to cancel that. Click the menu icon.
  6. Click End premium trial (or something to that effect).
  7. Confirming the above should dump you out to the Basic Visual Voicemail app screen, which will give you the option to cancel altogether. Cancel.
  8. Go to Google Voice.
  9. Click the Settings icon.
  10. Click Settings.
  11. Click Deactivate voicemail.
  12. Click Activate voicemail.
  13. Follow the instructions in the pop-up exactly. (You may notice, for example, that the number you’re told to dial is different from your voice mail access number.) Your phone should now be back to using Google Voice instead of Visual Voicemail.

The above worked for my phone, which is stock rooted Android version 4.4.4, Build Number KTU84P.G900VVRU1ANI2 (commonly known as the NI2 build).

Which file systems and protocols does the Samsung Galaxy S5 support over USB OTG?

The Samsung Galaxy S5 supports USB OTG, but with only 2 filesystems.

The other day I was trying to find out exactly what file systems of attached USB OTG drives my (Verizon) Samsung Galaxy S5 (SM-G900V) supports, but couldn’t find anything on Google. Therefore, I decided to buy an inexpensive USB 2.0 OTG adapter cable from Monoprice* and do some testing myself.

The drives I used were a SanDisk Cruzer Mini and a Sony Microvault for USB 2.0; and an ADATA DashDrive for USB 3.0.

FAT32 and exFAT formatting were done using Storage -> Disk Management in Computer Management on Windows 8.1 Update 1 Professional 64-bit, while ext4 formatting was done using Linux Mint 17’s USB Stick Formatter.

The results are in, and they’re not that great:

Pretty awful OTG support here.
Pretty awful OTG support here.

Basically the S5 refuses to mount anything that isn’t USB 2.0 AND FAT32 or exFAT.** If you have any comments, counterexamples, or ideas please be sure to share.

*I didn’t buy a USB 3.0 OTG cable as I couldn’t find one online that was guaranteed to even fit the S5. I’ve never encountered that issue with USB before, so I have no idea if the fault is with the cable OEM or Samsung.

Also, part of my motivation for getting an OTG cable is to facilitate Sneakernet file transfers while out of the house. Since very few phones support micro USB 3.0, I decided to go the 2.0 route.

** I don’t own a Mac and so couldn’t try HFS Plus, sorry.