So, the brand-new Galaxy S4 has just started retailing! And as most early adopters, one of the first things I wanted to do with my new Galaxy S4 was of course to root it. This post shows exactly how I’ve done it. The root exploit I used was released by XDA developer cofface in this thread. It is not a foolproof procedure, and it does involve some trial and error. The exploit itself offers two rooting methods, only one of which actually worked for me. So, caveat emptor! The good news is that I did end up with a rooted phone, and so can you.
Initial Requirements and Caveats
First things first: As I write this, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a very recent arrival. This procedure should be regarded as experimental, and we are in no way responsible if you somehow mess up your phone trying to root it. That said, I did test this on my own Galaxy S4 and can confirm the procedure worked for me. This procedure requires some familiarity with Android and rooting. It’s not as easy as SuperOneClick, but it is possible. If you’re looking for a more general introduction to rooting, check out 3 Cool Things You Can Do With A Rooted Android Phone.
This procedure works with the Galaxy S4 international version (I9500), with a build number that ends with XXUAMDE, Android version 4.2.2. To see if your device qualifies, go to Settings > More > About device:
Note Android version and Build number above. If you see the same thing on your device, you can proceed.
Setting Up USB Debugging Mode
To make this work, you may need to switch on USB Debugging Mode on your Galaxy S4. Note the “may”: It might work if you skip this step. But at any rate, USB debugging is useful for tinkering with the device, so we might as well go ahead and enable it. Samsung made this trickier than necessary. Here’s how:
1. Go to Settings > More > About device (you should already be there if you did the previous step).
2. Scroll down to Build number, and tap it seven times. Yup, just tap-tap-tap, seven times. I know there’s no button there. Keep tapping.
3. You will eventually get a toast (notification) saying “Developer mode has been enabled”.
4. You will now have a Developer options menu (before-last in this screeenshot):
5. Tap into Developer options, and enable USB debugging.
Getting The Files You Need
We’re going to need the Samsung USB driver, Odin (the tool we’ll use to flash the device), and of course, the actual binary we’re going to use to flash the phone.
1. Download the Samsung USB driver from here, and install it. Be sure you have an up-to-date antivirus installed (such as MS Security Essentials) since this is not an official Samsung download.
2. Download the latest cofface root file. Here’s a direct link to the file at the time of this writing (filename is SamsungI9500_cwm_Recovery_by cofface_0503.zip, and yes, the site is in Chinese). Ideally, take a moment to dig through the original thread and get the latest binary (it may well change after this post is published). This zip already contains both the binary we will flash and Odin.
Flashing The File: This Is The Risky Bit
So we now have all of our basic ingredients.
1. Extract the file from Cofface somewhere. The folder should look like this:
2. Turn your phone off.
3. Press and hold the volume down and Home buttons together or a few seconds, then press the Power button. A screen would now show asking if you want to proceed. Press volume up to confirm. Congratulations, you’re in Download Mode.
4. Plug in your phone. This should trigger a driver install:
5. Start Odin:
Note the text under ID:COM above, and the Added message.
4. Click the PDA button on Odin, and browse for cofface_samsungI9500_recovery_en_0503.tar. Note the en in the filename – that stands for English, so you really do want that file and not the one with cn (Chinese) in the filename.
5. Now’s the scary part: Time to flash the file. Click Start, and wait. Do not disconnect the phone, obviously. This will take just a moment, and will then show:
Booting To Recovery and Rooting
You thought we were done, right? Not so. When Odin completed flashing the device, it should have restarted it. Let it finish booting, then shut it off again. Now:
1. Turn the device back on, this time in Recovery mode. To do this, hold volume up + Home, and press the power button.
2. You should find yourself in CWM recovery after a moment. (It does take a moment, don’t worry.)
3. Navigate to “root your phone.”
4. Pick “Root your phone (Old method)”. Yes, we’re using the so-called old method (this is for a phone less than a month old, mind you). The new method didn’t work.
5. CWM will now show “Root Done, Please Reboot.”
6. Reboot the phone.
7. You will get a brief prompt saying “Android is upgrading”. And you should have a new app, SuperSU:
To make sure the phone is indeed rooted, install Titanium Backup. Once it starts, it should prompt for root access. When you grant it, you should get this:
(Very) Limited Tech Support
I will finish this post as I’ve started it, with a disclaimer and a warning: This method worked for me. These are my own screenshots, on my own phone. So it did work. But I cannot guarantee it is going to work for you. It’s finicky and tricky. While I welcome any and all comments, I will not be able to provide tech support and help you troubleshoot issues with rooting your Galaxy S4 — there are just too many variables involved.
That said, good luck! Rooting your Galaxy S4 is definitely doable.