Samsung Galaxy Note 3 flash counter cannot be reset, warranty voided permanently

October 9, 2013
25

Samsung is seemingly on a roll in making some rather controversial design decisions, ranging from the eyebrow-raising to the blood-curdling. Now it seems that the manufacturer has effectively found a way to discourage the few brave souls from tinkering with the newly released Galaxy Note 3.

The latest S Pen phablet is already beset by bad publicity despite the otherwise impressive hardware and software tandem, which you can read about in our review here. Aside from the highly controversial region locking, Samsung has apparently designed the Galaxy Note 3 in such a way that its flash counter can no longer be reset when flashed with a different ROM, thereby permanently marking the device as "damaged", even if its still working, and voiding all warranty.

Here's how it all works. Normally, everytime an Android device is flashed with another ROM, its flash counter is incremented to show many times it has undergone flashing. This gives service centers an indicator if the device has been tampered with. In the past, however, it has been possible to reset this counter to 0 which, along with flashing the original manufacturer ROM, would make it eligible again for warranty. This time, however, thanks to Samsung's new KNOX security system, that is no longer the case. KNOX uses eFuse, a technology that enables read-only memory (ROM) to be reprogrammed, despite the read-only property of the chip. This, processor, however, is inaccessible to users. What happens now, then, is that, when the Galaxy Note 3 is flashed, KNOX gets rewritten and the flash counter is incremented permanently.

Developer Chainfire, who wrote the TriangleAway tool that resets the flash counter, says that while it may be possible to find a way to reset the counter, it will be difficult to do so and the probability of success is quite low. This, unfortunately, leaves Galaxy Note 3 owners hanging with no way out of a flashed device.

VIA: SamMobile


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  • John Moore

    For a company using an open source operating system for their phones, Samsung doesn’t seem too keen on the whole ‘open’ part of things.

    Though, while I suppose it’s quite annoying to us, when you think about it the average consumer has no idea what it means to ‘flash’ a ‘ROM’.

    • Xingularity

      It’s open source to them. This does not meant it’s open to us. If you want it to be completely open, then you can use android on a device you design and build youerself.

      • banggugyangu

        Actually… Android is open source to everyone. What doesn’t necessarily have to be open source are the ROMs that the manufacturers put on the devices and the kernel. In this case, Samsung already released the source code for the kernel to each GN3 out. They’re not saying “Don’t do it”. They’re saying “Do it knowing that you’re voiding your warranty.”

        To the AC crew, this article erks me. Not because of the subject matter, but rather the manner that it is being portrayed. A lot of information was taken out of context and will come across incorrectly to many of the readers.

      • nick

        Newb shut up and read Google os . Open to all moron

  • jlninja

    Actually, I have no issue with this. You wanna playnwith the heart of the device than why should they be responsible for warrenty work. Theyre not saying you cant break it, just dont expect them to fix it. No problem at all with this.

    • TOMMMMMM

      Because we all know that when your headphone jack or USB port becomes defective, it was caused by flashing custom ROMs.

      • rickneworleansla

        Exactly. My original galaxy had a known hardware charging issue. I flashed it back to stock and sent it in where it was repaired. The repair sheet showed hardware repaired. A voided warranty would have left me with a broken phone, no fault of flashing. I am a current note owner and I WAS looking forward to upgrading.

    • Dedren

      What TOMMMMMM means is they will refuse to fix an unrelated issue for no good reason.

    • nick

      Ya wait until your charging port goes out or loose pixels on screen and won’t cover by its rooted and it clearly had a problem with hardware . Just shut up newb

      • jlninja

        Nope, im still right. You want covered, then don’t break the warrenty. Pretty simple

  • aznmode1

    As long as I can still root it I’m fine with it.

  • Rana

    Isn’t this the reason why we hated iOS and loved android? Cause we were able to actually own the phone and do what we liked with it? Jailbreak voided warranty but rooting was perfectly fine! Samsung fan but not liking this decisions

    • Hihi

      You can still root it without voiding your warranty from what I understood

      • shutUface

        That’s the exact opposite of what this article talks about.

      • WoodyGrape

        Uuhhh, you are wrong, shutuface. This is for flashing new ROMs…the counter will not be incremented on root alone…

      • shutUface

        Ok, after researching more I see ATT can do it but Tmob can’t. I’m on Verizon and didn’t realize this was not a vzw article. Our phones were shipped today.

  • terminationshok

    Won’t buy.

    • shutUface

      I pre-ordered and I’m going to play with it as is without rooting. I believe other carriers will go to this.

  • shutUface

    The only real thing that Sammy should actually be worried about is if people overclock the cpu/gpu and burn up their device. There’s also the risk of unskilled flashers flashing a rom not meant for their phone. Ie. international version of a rom vs US.

    • Jeremy Loos

      Hahaha. People should read read read. I rooted my htc sensation the day i got it but i read read read. I compared EVERYTHING in the system to what the tutorials/roms/radios were meant for. I wouldn’t do it for ANYONE else though. I am NOT a professional.

  • kotor

    I have galaxy note II. I am not going to get Note III because of the changes made by Samsung. Whats the point, not happy!!!!

  • Christopher Robert

    Knox is a great new feature, but it is made for business not for rooters. Samsung should have released this phone with KNOX and without it. I have heard it has been causing a lot of bricked devices.

  • Rawr

    Are you fucking kidding me.. This is the reason I left Apple and now I’m back to this BS

  • FUSamsung

    Samsung, you just effing earn yourself a new enemy. I’ll never effing go back to you sh!t again, you piece of $h!t. Now my $700 is just a paperweight. Thanks to you you piece of … I wont ever come back to you ever again.

  • gigety

    That’s why you buy a nexus device you can unlock the boot loader do anything you want with it dear Samsung I’m never buying a smartphone from you if your going to put it at risk with your stupid no resetting the stupid flash counter