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Upgrading Android on Samsung Galaxy S

Page history last edited by Mike Diamond 9 years, 9 months ago


 

Disclaimer

Before we get started, please take a moment to read and understand this paragraph.  Herein, I describe how to do something you shouldn't be doing.  I make no claim that this will work nor whether it's legal.  It's definitely not supported by anybody, including Samsung, Google, and myself.  In fact, this is guaranteed to void your warranty, and may irreversibly destroy your phone.  I am in no way responsible for that or any other outcome.  The information that follows is a transcription of my own opinion and experience, and may in fact be entirely false.

 

Overview

If you feel brave and don't want to wait for Samsung to release the latest version of Android for your specific region via their Kies software, you can do it the hard and risky way.  That's what I did to resolve my major problem with the phone - the performance.

 

Requirements

  • A working Samsung Galaxy S
  • A willingness to risk voiding the warranty and perhaps breaking your Galaxy S permanently
  • A Windows computer with an Internet connection
  • A USB cable for the phone
  • Odin version 1.3
  • The latest Android release

 

About Android, ROMs and Kernels, and PDA/CSC/Modem/PIT

There's no easier way to explain this than to just break it down by section.  Note that the following is what I've figured out so far.  I might be wrong on all of this - I'm not an expert.  I've been unable to find a thorough guide to this - it's just a collection of tidbits from here and there, and pieced together.

 

ROMs and Kernels

A ROM is Android

A ROM is essentially an Android image.  So if you replace the ROM, you're replacing Android.  Certain ROMs are available out there like Cyanogenmod - these are essentially community-created images or installations of Android.  I stay away from these community images, but you're welcome to try them out.  I'm not sure how a Cyanogenmod ROM matches up with various CSC and Modem versions though - maybe they are bundled?  I dunno.  Instead, I've upgraded to a stock Samsung ROM, which is what I'm writing about on this page.  The process should be similar for a community ROM.

 

A Kernel is not Android - it's a kernel

One of my first feats was to try to install a custom kernel that would give me root access on the device.  There were different kernels for various different stock ROMs, and I couldn't find one for my version.  So I installed one that was "close", and some apps stopped working.  Then I clued in (in hindsight, it was obvious - I was glancing over the details).  The kernel was only a kernel, not a full ROM.  If you've ever used Linux, you understand the concept.  You need to have the right kernel version matching the rest of the system.  Libraries and whatnot need to load into the running kernel, which is not guaranteed if they're for a different version.

 

ROM Files - PDA/CSC/Modem/PIT

A ROM is broken down into 4 separate files.  Sometimes only the PDA is referred to as the ROM, but for the sake of argument, we'll call the collection of files the ROM, and we'll refer to each individual file by PDA, CSC, Modem, or PIT.

 

These four "files", or images, work together to make your phone go.  Although you can mix and match different images from different releases, it's recommended you don't.  I look at it like this: The CSC and Modem files are likely compiled against a specific base version of Android libraries.  If you swap out the PDA image, you're swapping out those libraries, and things are going to break.  Best to replace all four from an image bundle.  If you register at http://www.samfirmware.com/ and download the images from there, their tables clearly label whether you need to install all four files or just one.

 

PDA

The PDA is essentially Android.  Samsung releases different PDA's to different regions to different phones via Kies.  When a new release of Android is released in, say, the UK, the PDA is a UK-specific image.  It will still work on non-UK phones, however the language and certain defaults will be UK-themed.  Samsung will slowly progress through their different regions and release a PDA for each region, at least in theory.

 

CSC

The CSC is a bunch of carrier-specific files.  If you have an international Galaxy S, you'll probably have a "regional" CSC, or a generic International one.  I'm not sure, and I don't really know what kind of files a carrier might put in here.  By carrier of course, I mean for example AT&T in the USA.

 

Modem/Phone

The Modem is also called "Phone", and from what I've read it contains drivers to make the radios work on the phone.  If this is true, it would be a bad idea to mix modem files from different regions.  I'm guessing that this image differs the greatest between Galaxy S variants.  The I9000 international version, AT&T's Captivate, T-Mobile's Vibrant, Sprint's Epic 4G, etc - these are all very different hardware each with a standard Galaxy S motherboard.  So I expect their Modem images all differ, and if you put the wrong image on, your phone won't work any more.  It's just a theory.

 

PIT

There is also something called the "PIT" file.  There are exactly only three different PIT files at the time of this writing, and you need the appropriate one depending on the version of Android you're installing.  I've not found an authoritative source of information as to what this file does, but it should be bundled with the other three files.

 

 

High-Level Upgrade Process

At a high level, so that you can see how easy it is once you have experience doing it and know what you are doing.

 

  1. Verify the version of the above files currently on your phone.  Dial *#1234# and write them down.
  2. Verify that the sim lock and carrier lock are disabled. Dial *#7465625#
  3. Find and download a Samsung stock image (bundle of the above four files) as close/similar as possible to the version presently on your device, so you can revert.  If you can't find an exact match, at least try to find a bundle for your specific phone/region.  An older version will work great, because you can revert to an older version for your region, then upgrade to current via Kies.
  4. Find and download the ROM of your dreams.  The region doesn't really matter, as long as the Modem files are appropriate to your phone, and the region supports a language you know how to read.  This sage advice really only applies to those of us with the international version, or for those of you wanting to try Cyanogenmod or similar, as the rest of you will be pretty limited to a single specific model/carrier as described above, in which case you can always get the latest version via Kies.  For me, I'm in the Middle East, and we're last on Samsung's list for rolling out new versions of Android.  Kies will only update me to version JPG, and I was able to manually update to JPU.  But to get it I had to go from a Middle East image set (code JP) to a UK image set (code XX).  I'll explain these codes a bit better below.
  5. Backup your stuff.  Photos, videos, contacts, bookmarks, text messages, calendar entries, etc.  Write down a list of the apps you have installed so you remember which ones to reinstall.  There is no one-click easy way to do this, but there are a number of apps available
  6. Upgrade the phone via Odin.

 

Samsung's Version Codes, Explained

Three of the images (PDA, CSC, and Modem) are named by a 5-letter filename/version name.  The first two letters are the country/region or language.  The last three letters are the version, where higher letters equals a newer version.  The letters can be numbers or letters, and start at 1 and end at Z.

 

The most relevant letters to me are:

 

  • JPJPG (JP = Middle East / JPG = the most current Android Froyo 2.2 that was released for the Galaxy S in my region) - this is what I had upgraded my phone to via Kies
  • XXJPU (XX = United Kingdom or Europe / JPU = the first Android Froyo 2.2.1 that was released for the Galaxy S) - this is what I upgraded my phone to using the method described on this page

 

A detailed breakdown of the various country codes can be found here.  I'm not going to reproduce it here because i couldn't hope to keep it up to date.  Plus it's huge.

 

Detailed Upgrade Process

At a detail level, so you can follow the bouncing ball and (hopefully) not get lost part way through.

 

  1. Verify the version of the PDA, CSC, and Phone files currently on your phone.  Write them down:
    1. Enter the Phone/Dialer app on your phone
    2. Dial: *#1234#
  2. Verify that simlock and network lock are off:
    1. Enter the Phone/Dialer app on your phone
    2. Dial: *#7465625#
  3. Find and download a "similar version" Samsung stock image:
    1. If your phone's PDA is "JPJPG", find a stock image starting with "JP".  Preferably you want "JPJPG" but if you can find an older one like "JPJPA" with all 4 files, download it as your fallback image.  Try to get a bundle with all four files and you should almost always be able to recover your phone unless you truly brick it.
    2. You might want to test flashing to this image to make sure it works before proceeding, but it's not really necessary.  The only reason you'll need this is if you ever want to get your phone supported by Samsung and need to flash it back to the region it was originally.  But chances are you're only going to need to do that if you brick the phone using this update method, in which case it won't be covered under warranty anyway as I mention above.
  4. Find and download the ROM of your dreams:
    1. Best way: Register at http://www.samfirmware.com/ and grab a stock image.  Password for the RAR archive is the domain name, without the www.  UnRAR it before you load it into Odin.
    2. Alternate way: Google it.
    3. Alternate way 2: Search in xda-developers
  5. Backup your stuff:
    1. Sorry, but I don't have much advice for you here.  Use Kies for the multimedia stuff.  Keep your contacts and calendar synced with Google.  Write down the apps you had installed so you know which ones to re-install.
    2. Or, just let it wipe your phone.
  6. Reboot your phone into DOWNLOAD mode
    1. I had my USB cable connected to the computer before rebooting.  I've read others say you have to connect the USB cable after entering Download mode.  I think "when" you connect cables is not important and mostly based on people's unique setups.  You shouldn't need to wait until you're in Download mode, and I can't confirm whether this even works.  So, connect the cable to your computer.
    2. Turn the phone off
    3. Press and hold Volume Down + Home + Power
    4. When the boot screen first appears, let go of Power
    5. When the Download screen appears, you may let go of the other buttons
  7. Upgrade the phone via Odin.
    1. Usually, Odin is bundled with the image file bundles.  Otherwise, you can download version 1.3 here.  There might be a newer version by the time you read this, but obviously, this has not been tested with a newer version.
    2. This post recommends that you perform the following steps:
      1. First check your firmware *#1234#
      2. Check Simlock and Network lock is OFF *#7465625#
      3. Make a hard reset after your flash code: *2767*3855# (for safety) - Note that I did not perform option C, and don't know what it does.
    3. Odin is pretty straightforward.  The upgrade instructions are included on http://www.samfirmware.com/ via screenshots at the bottom of the firmware download screens.  In general:
      1. If it tells you to upgrade only 1 file, UNCHECK Re-Partition.  The one file will be for the PDA slot.  Press the PDA button and load that one file.
      2. If it tells you to upgrade all 3 files, CHECK Re-Partition.  Don't forget the PIT (it's 4 files including the PIT file).  Press the buttons PIT, PDA, PHONE, and CSC to load the corresponding files.
      3. Once everything looks right, press Start

 

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