Oct 13 2014

Failed Cellular on Galaxy Note 3

While I still believe that this is nothing short of the best phone I’ve ever used (and I’ve played with a ton of them that friends and family have shown me (sometimes for hours at a time if they are really nice), my Samsung Galaxy Note 3, one day a few months ago, just up and decided that it wasn’t going to connect to cellular networks anymore.

Ordinarily I would simply exchange it with my carrier or enact my warranty, however, I purchased this particular device used on eBay, and thus any warranty ended with the first owner.

I went through a variety of diagnostic steps, including checking my IMEI number on swappa to verify that my device wasn’t blacklisted (which can happen if someone tries to clone your phone), verifying that my sim card was inserted correctly (which I’ve had problems with in other devices), and to verify that the APN settings were correct (which they were).  from here I decided to ask around on XDA-Developers for some assistance and try a bunch of other diagnostic ideas until I decided to go all-out and do my best to return my device to stock.

I downloaded the latest copy of ODIN (the Samsung firmware flash tool) and did my best to scour the web for the specific firmware files for my particular device and device region (n9005 region XEO (Poland)), gathered a .pit file (partition information), a rom file (contains the android operating system and default apps as well as the starting system configuration), and a modem file (the baseband (cellular modem) firmware).  I backed up my current partitions and IMEI information, selected each of these files in ODIN, checked the wipe NAND check box (completely wiping EVERYTHING out of the devices nand memory), and installed all the new firmware.  all went incredibly well and it booted the android os without issue, I had absolutely no change in the behavior of the cellular modem each time.  it still would not connect to cellular.

Alas, I’ve tried all I could, but I’m still at a loss as to how to correct this problem.  I will most likely end up replacing my device with either another note 3 (I really like this thing) or perhaps something else.  I’ve read the note 4’s are quite nice, the HTC one m8 is rather good, and Google’s new nexus product should be announced any day now (which from all the rumors should be right up my alley as well.)  I’ll be sure to post a complete review of whatever device here a few days after I get it into my hands.

Alas, my current cash flow isn’t particularly conducive to a new phone investment, so what I’ve been doing for the moment is transferring my sim to my old aged iPhone 4 (the newest phone I have in my possession that works (barely), and using the iPhone 5 I got from work (with unlimited data), as a hotspot for my note 3.  I still use it every day as it’s WAY better than having to use an iPhone (4 or 5) for my day-to-day news reading, posting here, social networking, and picture taking.  it’s got a much bigger, much better keyboard (Samsung keyboard with swipe and predictive text works great), much better camera (12MP great quality camera that can shoot 4k video), a screen that’s actually large enough to read text on without my eyes aching after 5 minutes, it’s much faster loading and using apps, better apps (this one is subjective and i could go into an app-by-app comparison, but that’s best left for a different post), and the Spen stylus which makes complex text and graphical selections a dream.

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