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.

 

(Mini)review of CyanogenMod 13.0 on the Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5

CM 13.0 shows just how bad hardware OEMs are at software.

In my previous post, I showed you how to install CM 13.0. Now here’s a mini review.

The Good:

Responsiveness

CM 13.0 is fast. And not fast* with an asterisk used for phones that only stutter every now and then, but very fast. Even loaded up with apps, this thing screams and is very responsive.

On TouchWiz Lollipop my S5 was routinely outpaced by my Nvidia Shield K1. With CM 13, the K1 doesn’t remotely keep up.

Android Lockscreen Bug Finally Fixed

CM 13 finally fixes a bug that’s plagued every Android device I’ve ever owned: the Motorola Droid 1, Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S5, and the Nvidia Shield K1 tablet. Across 3 OEMs every Android version from Froyo to Marshmallow, waking an Android device from the lockscreen has been a major PITA.

First of all, the power button might not wake the screen, or the lock screen may take a while to appear. When it does appear, it may simply not respond to touch input for a while, or be so delayed at doing so it messes up pattern unlock. Finally, the delay between a successful pattern entry and the lockscreen clearing is often multiple seconds. Sometimes the device will fail to wake entirely and has to be rebooted.

CM 13 is the first Android build I’ve used to NOT have this issue. I can’t help but wonder how CM managed to get right but Google, Motorola, Samsung, and Nvidia couldn’t.

No More Lockscreen Privacy Violations

TouchWiz Calendar will plaster your lock screen with event notifications even if you set your lockscreen to not show any notifications. Even worse, the fullscreen notification reveals other app notification icons (thankfully not content).

CM 13, on the other hand, actually respects lockscreen privacy. No notifications means no notifications show up, PERIOD. Which is exactly how it should be.

Pattern Unlock Now Displays Lower on the Screen

Not sure why no other developer thought of this before, but putting pattern unlock smack in the middle of a 5.1″ display was never a good idea. CM 13 mounts the pattern in the lower half of the screen so you no longer have to stretch your thumb or fumble with the phone to reach it.

Seriously, why didn’t anyone consider that before … it’s baffling.

RAM Consumption

About the same or less than TouchWiz Lollipop, but RAM consumption is largely irrelevant on Android anyway.

Storage Consumption

I had 10.54 GB of 16 GB free after CM 13.0 installation and 5.21 GB free after 100+ apps installed. IIRC TouchWiz leaves you with barely 8 GB free and then even that fills up rapidly, probably due to some combination of Samsung’s custom ART implementation and the fact that TouchWiz duplicates apps in the system.

This is isn’t totally surprising; bad things generally happen when hardware OEMs develop software and Samsung is no different. For all of TouchWiz’s great features – most of which have some CM equivalent – its performance on the S5 was never this good.

Adoptable Storage

Samsung (and LG and Sony) lied to us. There is absolutely no slowdown from using adoptable storage IF you move your data to the SD card but keep your apps on eMMC. As shown in the previous section, there’s plenty of space on the latter for at least a couple hundred apps. Used in this manner, adoptable storage is the phone equivalent of keeping your Program Files on an SSD and moving your document libraries to a slower HDD in Windows.

Samsung and every other OEM that denied us adoptable storage for performance and user confusion reasons lied to us.

Excellent Root Implementation

No futzing with SuperSU here. Root in CM 13.0 is managed by a simple, self explanatory toggle in Developer Options. You literally couldn’t ask for a better setup. It makes you wonder how/why the feature isn’t a part of stock Android.

Bluetooth

Word in forum threads is that this is bad, but I’ve had zero problems with it so far. Bluetooth functionality and call quality is excellent.

The Bad:

Bootup Time

Much longer than stock – like “Go make a sandwich” long – though this may be due to me having adoptable storage enabled. The OS also takes a longer time to detect and initialize the SIM card during boot, resulting in a “No SIM card” error being displayed in the notifications. The error goes away once the radio initializes and before startup is complete.

Camera Performance

To put it mildly, if you use your phone primarily as a camera (I don’t, and I rarely take pics) CM 13.0 will be a huge disappointment out of the box. The native Google Camera absolutely mangles pictures and can’t seem to focus on anything properly.

That said, Camera MX takes pics that are pretty close – if not absolutely as good as – stock.

Speaker Volume

Nearly 4.5 years later, audio volume is apparently still an issue with AOSP-based ROMs and Samsung hardware. You can boost the volume in apps that have that feature, such as Player FM, but speakerphone during calls is low enough to make listening outdoors with passing traffic a struggle.

I don’t use my phone for calls much so I don’t find this a dealbreaker, but if you depend on your speakerphone in noisy environments you might.

HD Voice/VoLTE?

It’s unclear as to whether this works, but AFAIK it’s only possible with other Verizon or AT&T users who also had phones supporting the feature. None of the people I talk to frequently fall into that category and call quality is excellent otherwise so I don’t mind its absence.

Display Modes

As far as I know, there’s no way to change the display mode, so you may be stuck in the oversaturated Dynamic mode.

External Downoad Speed

Seems slower. Not enough to make the phone unusable, but definitely enough to be noticed. LAN file transfer speed, however, is unaffected.

Conclusion

CM 13 is worth it for the mindblowing performance upgrade alone. I cannot overemphasize how much faster my S5 is with it compared to TouchWiz. If you were considering replacing your S5 because of the latter, CM might give you a year or more of phone usefulness. The only flagship shipping with an OEM ROM packing features equivalent to CM’s is the nearly $700 HTC 10, so CM will save you quite a chunk of money too.

There’s so much here that makes the OS a joy to use and will make you fall in love with your device all over again. CM is absolutely the best mobile OS I’ve ever encountered. Install it as soon as you can.