Dec 18 AT 3:25 PM Dima Aryeh 23 Comments

AT&T Galaxy Note 3 bootloader still locked, workaround available

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Carriers may strip us of our money, lock us into contracts and limit how much data we can use, but the worst thing they can do is lock a device’s bootloader. This makes the phone basically theirs; consumers are just using it under the condition that it stays stock. I hate this about some carriers, because I’d like to hack the snot out of my smartphones.

Luckily, developers are quite smart and often manage to get around such locks. The Samsung Galaxy S III and Note II were unlocked quite quickly on Verizon, providing an easy way to flash them. But the bootloader locking extended to AT&T this year, and the Galaxy Note 3 has remained locked down so far.

However, a new method for getting around this lock has been created! It’s called Safestrap Recovery, and it takes the approach of not touching the /system partition. Instead, it can create ROM “slots” in the /sdcard partition, taking up some of your internal storage to create another ROM install. The recovery is based on TWRP and can be installed via an APK once you’re rooted.

Of course, this method is still very young and in beta, so don’t try this unless you’re willing to risk the life of your device. However, this is an exciting prospect and I can’t wait for it to be stable. I am the happy owner of a Note 3, and I can’t wait to get crazy with custom ROMs. Hit the source link to take a look, and tell us what you think!

Source: XDA-Developers, Hashcode’s blog
Via: XDA Portal

Dima Aryeh is obsessed with all things car and tech. His time is split between gaming and fixing his racecar. He also does photography in his spare time.

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  • thymeless

    I’ve rooted my Note 3 for a while now. I’ve been getting by with Xposed Framework to supply what ROMs do. A full custom ROM for the Note 3 would be a thing of beauty as well.

    • Dima Aryeh

      I can’t wait to get into Xposed myself!

  • MMcCraryNJ

    This is going to get down voted into oblivion because people don’t like hearing it. When you sign a 2-year agreement with a carrier, the device is not yours, because you haven’t fully paid for it. Just like a bank owns a car when you finance, you are financing the device for 24 months with a down payment required. Therefore, carriers do have the absolute right to keep those devices locked down as they see fit, as well as not honor your warranty when something goes wrong. I feel as if nobody ever thinks about the reasons they do this, a big one being wasted customer service time and money trying to run technical support on issues that wouldn’t otherwise be there if the customer didn’t mess with the under-the-hood stuff. It’s a support nightmare.

    Now, if you buy your device outright, finish paying your contract term, or break the contract and pay the ETF, that device is now yours and the carrier should have an obligation to give you the bootloader and SIM unlock keys. But as it stands now, that right isn’t yours under a contract.

    • Kennon

      Actually your comment will be voted down based solely on the fact that you are completely wrong. A 2 year contract is the price you pay for the carrier to subsidize your phone. If you go to the att website and pay full price for the device you still get the completely locked version. So you are wrong wrong and wrong. But thanks for making crap up and posting.

      • MMcCraryNJ

        Someone obviously didn’t read, but that’s ok. Thanks for your comment!

    • Dima Aryeh

      Technically, you’re not paying “payments” with the contract, as the device is subsidized. Not under a payment plan. A subsidy is NOT a payment plan. There is a difference. The carrier is not allowing you to finance the device, it’s subsidizing it for you to buy their contract.

      Also, my device is not under contract. Thus it’s MY device. And even if it was under contract, AT&T will never unlock it after the contract is up.

      Warranty is void once you modify your device anyway, even if you buy an unlocked, carrier free device. Not the carrier’s problem.

      • MMcCraryNJ

        Sure, “Technically” they can call it whatever they like. The fact of the matter is that they are giving you an expensive device without charging you for the entire purchase price up front, instead opting to recoup the amount they lent you over 24 months of payments, plus some (usually a lot) interest adding onto it. You can call it a subsidy all you want, it’s still a form of credit or a loan in which you repay by the end of your contract. In those terms, you don’t have ownership of said item. When you finance a car, the car is not legally yours until you make the final payment, it is the bank’s property. When you don’t make your car payment, they take it away, just like when you cancel your contract early or refuse to pay your wireless bill, they will bill you the ETF to recoup the amount they loaned to you.

        I don’t see how this is a difficult concept, they don’t want you unlocking and bricking the device that you haven’t paid for, nor do they want customers fooling around with things and breaking them to the point where AT&T is flooded with support claims for failing devices. They aren’t doing it because they hate you, or because they have something against you. They’re doing it to save them time and money.

        Now, if people actually bothered to read my entire post, instead of getting this huge feeling of entitlement, you would see that I am in favor of them providing unlocks to people who HAVE purchased their devices outright, or finished their contract, or paid the ETF. They don’t, they should, and I think it’s BS that they don’t. I’m with everyone on that. But let’s stop the entitlement approach with these devices. You didn’t completely pay for these devices, and AT&T/Samsung have an obligation to provide support during the life of your contract, which they cannot do if everyone is putzing around with the internals. Everyone knew going in that the bootloader is locked tight, and Knox is present with an E-Fuse which will trip if you alter your device. Instead of complaining about, go buy an unlocked developer device. They do exist, you know. OEMs have heard the demand for such devices, and do offer them. Now it’s time for everyone to pony up and pay for them, instead of trying to find ways to game the system, and complaining when those ways don’t work.

        • yankeesusa

          I agree with your comment to a certain extent. I know firsthand that when customers tweak their phones there are more issues and it costs the companies money. As a verizon technician couple years back we didn’t care if phone was messed with, we exchanged it anyway. Times have changed. But I do think if you want an unlocked bootloader now you should be able to pay full price for the phone and have it unlocked. Of course there are also the developer phones which people who know what they are doing can buy it.
          Of course the contract thing still doesn’t change the fact that it should be unlocked if you want it unlocked. Even if you brick your phone or damage it physically, att still gets your money since you signed a 2 year contract. So in the end whether you signed a contract or not if you wish to sign off on an unlocked bootloader and loose your warranty you should be able to do it. Just like if you lease a car you can buy different rims or update the air intake to a better one. It’s your choice. On my financed house I can do plenty of things to it even though technically it belongs to the bank. In the end, if a customer signs a 2 year contract or not, if they decide they want to mess with their phone and want an unlocked bootloader, they should be able to.

        • semajdc

          You are a idiot …you are trying to sound eeducated when clearly you you have no clue what you are talking about and maybe you should do your research before you make yourself look like a fool.. keep your comments to yourself unless you know what you are saying is true. Other than that, no one wants to hear you. You are wasting our time and space on this site. Have a good one

    • monk

      if you pay full price and dont get a new contract, you can get the SIM unlock code, but not the bootloader unlock and you will never get it from At&t.

    • Tangent

      “Just like a bank owns a car when you finance…”

      Yup, just like that. My car is financed, and yet I’ve replaced the suspension, radio, brakes, etc with my personal choice of upgrades, just like carriers should let us change ROMs on our phones. Carriers have the right to deny warranty claims and decline tech support on modified devices, as well as penalize us for early contract termination if we decide to take an unlocked device to another carrier before the contract is up. Locking the device down is unnecessary at best.

    • AT&T Wireless Technician

      As an At&t Wireless Technician for over 12yrs I can say you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about! When you purchase a phone from a Cell Phone carrier you own the phone. The cell phone carrier subsidize the price of the phone in order to get business and put you on a 2yr contract with hope of recouping the money they lost from subsidizing the cost of the phone through your Plan and Features cost. If you are a business customer you can get an unlock code for your phone just by calling customer service and telling them you will be traveling outside the U.S. When you finance a car you take out a loan which results in a car note. If you default on the loan the bank can repossess your car and sue you for any remaining balance. APPLES AND ORANGES! If I purchase a cellphone or any other electronic equipment I expect to be able to do with it what I please! Warranties for Cellphone are from the Cellphone Manufacturer. The Cellphone Company just expedite the warranty on behalf of the Manufacturer so you won’t be out of service for too long which hurts the Cell Phone Company.

      • John Blair

        And you sir, made a complete fool of yourself with your comments. This is not a SIM LOCK being discussed here. Do you even know what a bootloader is? It’s obvious you know a lot about carrier warranties and such. What you apparently know NOTHING about is what a boot loader lock is. It prevents users from applying custom Kernels and ROMs – With Safestrap, we have overcome the latter. We STILL cannot replace the kernel, and you know why? Aww hell, go learn it yourself, I am not going to waste my time explaining it to someone such as yourself. Before you call someone ignorant, as you did here, it doesn’t help you case when you go on to say something completely ignorant yourself.

    • fuzzychaos

      If I buy a car through a bank, the bank does not prevent me from modifying my car. I can install aftermarket items like an alternate stereo and speakers, aftermarket lights, different rims and tires, spoilers, etc. I can even have the car repainted so I don’t see your example as valid.

      As far as customer service issues, *generally* the people who want to root a device are more likely to know more than the typical CS rep with respect to the hardware and OS, and probably would not need to use them to troubleshoot the device. I unequivocally fall into this category. It’s my device, I should be allowed to use it how I wish.

    • Leo

      So what you’re saying is kind of like how you don’t own your house because you had to get a loan… soooo if you wanted to make a change to your house, like upgrade the plumbing to make it better you can’t because the bank owns your house… brilliant logic!!! You should be a lawyer ;)

  • Goresick

    I’ve been using Safestrap on my ATT S4 and its fantastic.

  • donger

    Love the android community.

  • JS1236

    Let us not forget the reasons we root phones in the 1st place.

    1. Bloatware erasure
    2. Tethering your own Paid data
    3. Ability to use software without having to ask the carrier or Google for approval

    Why carriers don’t allow these things anyway is just stupid.
    In case one the junk just sits on people’s phones without being used anyway. In two you paid for the data why not let you use it any way you want, they’re just being greedy trying to charge more. And in the third case all I can say is I thought this was America.

  • CTown

    Safestrap is pretty cool and shows what a great dev Hashcode is (he did wonders with on Kindle Fire line). However, while SafeStrap is a cool workaround it does not flash a kernel. Thus, the only ROMs that are available are the modified Samsung ones. Thus, ROMs such as CyanogenMod, AOKP, and OmniRom are out of reach. Though on the GS4, SafeStrap will let you install the GPe ROM since it runs off the same kernel as in the TouchWiz ROMs.

  • Try this

    This is an old way to get your SIM unlocked….

    Call AT&T’s INTERNATIONAL SERVICE (or whatever it is called now) and…

    Tell them that you are going to make a trip to Europe (out of country) and…..

    They will give you (supposed to) the SIM unlock code (or unlock it).

  • Kevin Park

    How to install custom roms on AT&T Galaxy Note 3 without voiding your warranty (tripping KNOX flag) or lose any data.

  • John Blair

    This is actually a wonderful workaround because it gives you multi-boot as well. However – let’s not go letting AT&T off the hook here. We have 1100 signatures on the following petition to unlock the Galaxy Note 3 Bootloader

    Every signature gained sends an email to the following AT&T Executives, including Ralph De La Vega (whose name became infamous with the root method for AT&T Note 3; “Root De La Vega”

    Petitioning: Randall Stephenson AT&T CEO
    Ralph de la Vega; President and CEO – AT&T Mobility
    John Donovan; Senior VP, AT&T Technology and Network Operations
    John T. Stankey; Group President and Chief Strategy Officer
    AT&T: Unlock OUR Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Bootloader!

    Please sign this petition to send a message to AT&T:

  • sammy

    Anybody still doesnt learn how to unlock AT&T samsung galaxy stuff PERMANENTLY??? Its easy at all Go to attphoneunlocking(.com), never took us over 5 hours to unlock your phone.