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8/19/2013


Rooting and Unlocking the Samsung Dart

Filed under: General, Electronics Disassemblies — Charlie Summers @ 12:24 pm

As I’ve discussed before when we fixed the “low-space” warning, the Samsung Dart Android phone is an entry-level device with an older version of the Android operating system which can, if properly managed, be a perfectly fine little phone for practically no money. And I also in that post mentioned that I’d someday get around to writing a step-by-step on how to root and SIM-unlock the phone. Well, today’s the day.

OfficeDepot had this little phone on clearance for under $40, so I couldn’t resist putting one together for the Mrs. who is currently using my old feature phone. And while I’m doing everything all over again, I figured I might was well detail the procedure so that anyone who bought one from OD this weekend could quickly root the phone, preparing it for the procedure described in my previous post, as well as SIM-unlock the phone so it can be used on AT&T’s network, or a network elsewhere in the world.

One thing before we begin; the whole “to root, or not to root” question seems to me to be silly. It is my humble opinion that it should be illegal to sell any device, be it phone, tablet, or computer, without the device rooted. Sounds ominous, but all “root” means is administrator; the “root” account is the account on a un*x-like device (linux, Android, whatever) that has administrator access to the device. It is exactly parallel to the Administrator account in Windows. Think about this for just one moment…if you were sold a Windows computer, but Microsoft refused to allow you administrator access which would mean you couldn’t install applications, control the hosts file, your networking, and pretty much anything else, wouldn’t you be furious? So how comes we all lay down and let Apple, Google, and yes, even now Microsoft do exactly the same thing? Without root, you do not own your device! You paid for it, but the company who manufactured it controls it completely, and you are forever at their mercy. You really want to trust any company that much?

So now that the whole “should I root” question is disposed of, let’s get started, right after the jump.

First off, we need to download a few files to your friendly neighborhood Windows machine:

  • SuperOneClick: Head on over to ShortFuse and pick up the latest copy of SuperOneClick. For now, just download it and remember where you put it. (If this link fails, or the file is missing from that website, check the comments below for an alternate source.)

  • The Android SDK: Go to the Google Android website and download the software development kit (SDK…get it?). We need some stuff from there, but don’t do anything with it yet, we’ll get there. (I should mention the file we need to talk to the phone is included in SuperOneClick, but it’s easier to describe the procedure through the SDK.)

  • Samsung Dart USB Drivers: Download the USB drivers for the Dart directly from Samsung.

    Go to the website linked, select the “Download” tab, find the single EXE download available, accept that Samsung is providing this to you and it they screw it up you can’t blame them, and download the file.

  • A Hex Editor: Any HEX (hexadecimal) editor will do; the one I’m linking to is a nifty little one called XVI32 - it’s free, and works quickly and easily. Note we don’t need this to root the device, but do need a HEX editor to SIM-unlock the phone. This is another ZIP file, just extract the files someplace you can find them (Again, I stuck these files in a folder inside my “My Applications” directory. I make it a habit to place any non-installer Windows applications in that folder so I know where to look.)

(Quick aside for those who don’t understand computer-types mumbling about HEX. Hexadecimal is how computers count. See, each bit, or each “switch,” can be either on or off. Eight of these switches are ganged together - think of a row of eight light switches - into a byte of computer memory. Turns out that 11111111 binary equals 255 decimal. Which means any number that can be held in those eight bytes of memory can be represented by two hexadecimal decimal places, from 00 to FF. And before you look at FF and think it isn’t a number, I want you to pretend you have eight fingers on each hand for a total of sixteen. If we all had eight instead of five per hand, we wouldn’t be counting by tens, we’d be counting by sixteens; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, F…and when we add one to F, we’d get 10, pronounced “one-oh.” Ok, enough glazing over of the eyes and back to the practical.)

Now that we have downloaded what we need, let’s begin. First off, extract the Android SDK to any directory. It’s a big file (~450MB), so depending on your connection speed, it might take a little while to download, but where you extract the ZIP file doesn’t matter so long as you remember what you did with it. I stuck mine in a folder named “android-sdk” inside my “My Applications” directory in my user directory, so it looks like C:\Users\Charlie|My Applications\android-sdk\ - but it really doesn’t matter where it’s at so long as you remember where you put it.

Next install the USB Drivers; this is a standard installer file (requiring administrative access!), so it will place the drivers in the appropriate place.

Finally, extract SuperOneClick to your computer; again, make sure you remember where you put it, but since this is a Windows application (EXE), it’ll run from pretty much anywhere. Now we’re ready to perform the root exploit on the phone, something that as I mentioned shouldn’t even be necessary…SuperOneClick is going to “break into” the phone you purchased to give you administrative access to it.

Ok, now that the required software is available, let’s root this puppy. First off, fire up the phone, no SIM card required at this step. Disallow Google’s location service (a quick web search will tell you why this is a really creepy thing), and get to the main screen. Tap the Menu button (far-left on the bottom row) and select “Settings” from the menu. Go to Applications -> Development and click on the checkbox next to “USB Debugging.” You will get a tersely-worded warning box about how this is for development only, just tell it OK since we need USB Debugging for ADB to connect (you can safely turn it off if you’d like when we’re finished). Now connect your phone via USB (the Dart comes with a microUSB cable) to your Windows computer, and hang out while the driver software you installed earlier is installed - it’ll take a while, don’t panic, and will install a fistfull of drivers including modem and serial port connectors. Do not mount the microSD card to your Windows desktop!

Once that finishes, launch SuperOneClick (you do remember where you put it, right?), click the “Donate Later” button on the splash screen, then click the “Root” button, sit back, and watch. SuperOneClick will perform all kinds of gyrations, and finally ask if you want a root test; you can safely tell it “No” at this point, because the next thing we do will give us all the test we need.

Since a picture is worth a bunch of words and some folks tend to be more visually-oriented, a short video with an example of what you’ll see:


Close SuperOneClick (but if you have a few extra bucks to spend, send some the author’s direction later for letting you root the phone so easily) and disconnect the phone from your computer. At this point, I power-cycle the phone (turn it off, then turn it back on), and then reconnect it to the computer.

Next, open a command prompt. Navigate to the directory where you extracted the Android SDK, then cd (change directory) into the “platform-tools” directory. You are going to type the following commands into the command window:

adb shell
su
cat /dev/block/bml5 > /sdcard/bml5.img
exit
exit
adb pull /sdcard/bml5.img

Let’s walk through that before you do the typing. You are going to initiate a “shell” connection to your phone using the adb.exe…think of it as a command prompt, but on your phone instead of your computer. You should receive the “$” prompt in return, the standard user prompt in un*x, like the “>” prompt in DOS. Next you ask for superuser permissions with the “su” command…again, you are talking to your phone, not your computer, so you are running (possibly for the first time in your life) a un*x-work-alike. When you hit the return after “su” your prompt should change from “$” to “#” - only the Super User account on a linux machine gets that special prompt to warn you that you are now wearing the Super User’s “special hat”…if you don’t get it here, you should start over to see if perhaps you did something wrong.

Next the weird command “cat /dev/block/bml5 > /sdcard/bml5.img” - this is saying to the phone, “type out the information you’ll find at /dev/block/bml5 and send it to a new file at /sdcard/bml5.img.” Notice that unlike Windows, un*x-like machines use a forward-slash as a path separator, not a backslash. Next we exit from the su prompt, and then exit from the shell. Now you’ll get a “normal” DOS-like “>” prompt. One more command, this time a Windows command: “adb pull /sdcard/bml5.img” tells the adb program to pull from your phone a copy of the file you created, and stick it in the same directory as adb. If everything reports successful (adb should tell you it successfully copied a file ~9MB in size), close the command prompt.

A video of this procedure:


Now we need to find inside that file the super-secret code we’ll use to unlock the phone. Install the hex editor you’ve chosen (for XVI32 you can just follow along, if it’s not we’ll assume you know enough about this to work through with us); if it is XVI32 just extract the files in the ZIP file to a directory where you can find it, and run the EXE file. File->Open, navigate to the directory where you placed the SDK, into the platform-tools directory, and you should see a file in there named bml5.img…open it.

Your hex editor is now filled with…er…hexadecimal numbers. You want to search for the “number”:

FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30

Easiest way, at least in XVI32, is to carefully copy that hex string from the first FF to the last 30; when you open the Search->Find menu item, it will already place it in the HEX field. Perform the search, and the first “hit” should have, in the text side, eight numbers immediately prior to the string. Mine will almost certainly be different than yours, but that’s ok; we can easily verify this number is the correct one. Write it down, then find next (F3 works as well); you’ll see eight zeros prior to the find. Search again, another eight zeros. But search again, and you’ll find your magic eight-digit number again. Next two searches should be eight zeros, but the third should show you your number again. Finding the same number three times in your file tells you it’s the right one.

One more video:


Now go to your phone, and stick in a “foreign” SIM card (an AT&T SIM works fine in the U.S.). When you power-up your phone, you’ll get a warning that the phone is SIM-locked, and when you swipe to get to what should be the menu, you’ll have a text field and accept/decline buttons. (In a “fresh” Dart, the Swype keyboard will annoyingly pop up a help file - dismiss this so you can continue.) Carefully type in the eight-digit number…the numbers become hidden quickly, so check each one is correct before they hide - if you get confused as to which number you’re on, delete them all and start over since you have a limited number of tries. Once you’ve typed-in the entire number, hit the accept button.

Your phone should report, “Network Unlock Successful” and continue its boot, eventually connecting to the AT&T network. Congratulations…your Samsung Dart is rooted, and SIM-unlocked! (If it doesn’t, try only once more…again, you have a small number of attempts.)

Any questions, just ask in the comments!

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15 Responses to “Rooting and Unlocking the Samsung Dart” »

     

  1. Dave2013 Says:

    Does it also work for T-Mobile?

  2.  

  3. Charlie Summers Says:

    Dave2013 Says:
    Does it also work for T-Mobile?

    Not exactly sure what you mean. The Dart is SIM-locked to T-Mobile (it’s only available in the U.S. from T-Mobile and its dealers), so you really don’t need to unlock it to get it to work on T-Mobile. Removing the SIM-lock (”unlocking” the phone) will open it up to other networks, like AT&T.

    Of course, if you find a Galaxy Mini (the phone the Dart is based upon) locked to a non-U.S. carrier, I suppose the same basic procedure would work to unlock it for use on T-Mobile…but I’ve never directly dealt with a Galaxy Mini, so YMMV, Close Cover Before Striking, and all that stuff.

    Oh, while I’m at it, there are reports the SuperOneClick link is broken. If it is, you can find a copy in my Copy account. (If you want to say “thanks,” how about signing up for your own Copy.com account using my referral link? If you use this link, you get an extra 5GB of space for a total of 20GB for free, much higher than with any other desktop-syncing and sharing system out there. And we get an extra 5GB added to our space, too, so I can post more files to share. Remember to sign-up for your account using this referral link, not the link on the Copy site, if you want that extra 5GB of space!)

  4.  

  5. Dave2013 Says:

    Thanks!

    I meant to say using the same steps to unlock the T-Mobile Dart to use it with Lycamobile.

    And an you believe that SuperOneClick V2.3.3 is available with CNET? But beware because you can get “extra” crap from them.

  6.  

  7. Charlie Summers Says:

    Dave2013 Says:
    I meant to say using the same steps to unlock the T-Mobile Dart to use it with Lycamobile.

    Yep, it should work fine once unlocked.

    And an you believe that SuperOneClick V2.3.3 is available with CNET? But beware because you can get “extra” crap from them.

    It does appear to be available from CNET, but I also posted a copy to my copy.com account so you can skip CNET’s annoying download “manager” and other crapware.

  8.  

  9. Dave2013 Says:

    Thanks Charlie!
    The video helped out alot, most of us can’t read :)

    I have succesfully unlocked mine for Lycamobile. Their pay as you go is really inexpensive and NO expiration.

    2c/min,4c/text, 6c/MB 4G data

  10.  

  11. Fred160628 Says:

    Hi Charlie:

    Question #1: The instructions worked fine on Dart. But I tried to use the same instructions on V768 Concord, and it did not worked on V768 Concord (when I use the “cat” command it comes back and says that the “directory does not exit” or can not find the directores. Is there a solution for that or should I use another command?

    Question #2: I partitioned a 32GB Micro sd and created an EXT2 partitioned, but I can not access the EXT2 partition through my WIN XP (I have used various software such as Explore2FS, EXT2IFS, EXT2Read and still can not access EXT2 partition). Then I partitioned another Micro sd with only one (1) primary partition (the whole card has one (1) 29GB partitioned and it worked fine, but the Link2SD comes back and says EXT2 not found. Is it OK to use the the sd card without EXT2 partition?

    I thank you in advance for your help.

  12.  

  13. Charlie Summers Says:

    Fred160628 Says:
    Question #1: The instructions worked fine on Dart. But I tried to use the same instructions on V768 Concord, and it did not worked on V768 Concord

    Nor will it. These instructions will work on a number of Samsung devices, but not on any other manufacturer’s. The Concord is manufactured by ZTE, so none of these instructions will do much of anything with that phone.

    Question #2: I partitioned a 32GB Micro sd and created an EXT2 partitioned, but I can not access the EXT2 partition through my WIN XP

    Did you try ExtFS, as I discussed in my post Backing Up the Samsung Dart microSD Card With an ext2 Partition? If that won’t allow you to mount it (I admit I didn’t try it in XP, but it’s listed as working on everything from XP to Win8), you may have something wrong with the partition map. If that’s the case, use MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition to re-create the partitions.

    but the Link2SD comes back and says EXT2 not found. Is it OK to use the the sd card without EXT2 partition?

    As an SD card, yes. For moving apps, libs, and data from the internal memory, no. Link2SD is telling you it can’t find a second partition on the card that doesn’t have one, so Link2SD is functionally useless with that card.

  14.  

  15. Fred160628 Says:

    Hi Charlie:

    Thank you for your assistance. I partitioned a 32GB micro sd flash into a 20GB primary (Fat32)and a 10GB primary (EXT2)and left 1.6GB unalocated using Partition Wizard Home Edition (I followed all your instructions). After partitioning the card I got almost 19.4GB space on the Fat32 and 9.87GB on the Ext2 partition (both partitions were primary but not active). My free phone memory was almost 130MB before inserting the flash card into the phone. I installed Link2SD (after I inserted the flash drive)and selected the parameters (ie ext2) and then started installing the applications. However, when I install any program, it installs it either on the phone or automatically in the first partition (Fat32)on SD Card. I checked the ext2 with adb and it reported that it is in automatic mode. As of now I have 18GB (from 19.4)free on the first partition (fat32), the ext2 memory space still the same (9.87) and I have only 24.5 MB phone internal memory (out of 130 MB)(FYI, I have moved all the apps that I have installed into SD Card and have cleaned all Data(s) and Cache(s) too. I have used Paragon ExtFS for windows to check the Fat32 and Ext2 storage space. I think I am doing something wrong here. Also, in your instruction in one place you wrote that Link2sd needs to be installed before inserting newly partitioned SD card. But, when answering a comment, the instruction says first insert the newly partitioned SD card and then install Link2SD. Would please tell me which method is correct. Also, I have both Dart and V768 Concord. Do you have instructions for Concord? If so, where can I find your instructions for Concord? thank you very much.

  16.  

  17. Charlie Summers Says:

    Fred160628 Says:
    I partitioned a 32GB micro sd flash into a 20GB primary (Fat32)and a 10GB primary (EXT2)and left 1.6GB unalocated using Partition Wizard Home Edition (I followed all your instructions).

    Er, not exactly; I can’t imagine you’d ever use 10G in your linked ext2 partition, nor did I suggest leaving any unallocated space. You seem to be making things unusually difficult…your 32G card should have been formatted in FAT32, so all you needed to do was reduce that partition by ~2G or less, then create a new ext2 partition in that then-unallocated space. Should still work, but it’s unnecessarily complex your way.

    Also, I should note this section’s discussion should be at the Fixing Lost Space Errors post. It should be available for referral…

    My free phone memory was almost 130MB before inserting the flash card into the phone.

    Hard to believe…if you have 130M free in the /data partition, you don’t need to do any of this. If you’re not getting an Out-Of-Memory warning, you don’t need to do any of this. If you don’t routinely get that out-of-memory warning, you should stop mucking with this until you do.

    I installed Link2SD (after I inserted the flash drive)and selected the parameters (ie ext2) and then started installing the applications. However, when I install any program, it installs it either on the phone or automatically in the first partition (Fat32)on SD Card.

    Of course it does. But that has nothing to do with the out-of-memory error. If you’re getting it, it means the application data store (the directory where all of the data for all of your apps is stored, which is in the internal memory, in the /data partition, in the /data/data directory) is filled - that’s what we’re trying to fix.

    (FYI, I have moved all the apps that I have installed into SD Card and have cleaned all Data(s) and Cache(s) too.

    Moved…where? How? You do know in Link2SD you shouldn’t “Move to SD Card” (since they are already there), but rather “Create Link,” yes?

    I think I am doing something wrong here.

    Yep; if you have 130M free on your /data partition, you don’t have to worry. Only if you start getting the out-of-memory warning should you even be bothering with any of this.

    Also, in your instruction in one place you wrote that Link2sd needs to be installed before inserting newly partitioned SD card. But, when answering a comment, the instruction says first insert the newly partitioned SD card and then install Link2SD. Would please tell me which method is correct.

    Doesn’t really matter. You can’t run Link2SD until you install the APK, so either way the second partition isn’t available until you run it.

    Also, I have both Dart and V768 Concord. Do you have instructions for Concord? If so, where can I find your instructions for Concord? thank you very much.

    You seem to be under the mistaken impression that it is normal to be able to SIM-unlock Android phones with a simple file search. It is not. That it is possible on a few Samsung phones implies only that either Samsung made a mistake (likely) or that Samsung didn’t care about users unlocking the phones (unlikely, since that wouldn’t make partners like T-Mobile very happy). Other Android phones cannot be unlocked in this manner. Cheapest way with the Concord is to simply use it on a T-Mo pay-as-you-go plan for ~90 days and then call CS and ask for the number.

  18.  

  19. Fred160628 Says:

    Hi Charlie:

    This is me again. Here is where I am confused. Let’s say that I format a 32G card in FAT32, and reduce that partition by 2G, then create a new ext2 partition in that then-unallocated space (and install & run Link2sd as well), and the remaining space on the FAT32 will be approximately 27 GB. Now when I install apps, should apps use/utilize the space on Ext2 to install the apps, or are the apps should use/utilize the space on the remaining 27 GB storage? In other word, should “.android_secure” show-up in the FAT 32 27 GB or 2 GB Ext?

    Also, in my previous question I wrote:
    “(FYI, I have moved all the apps that I have installed into SD Card and have cleaned all Data(s) and Cache(s) too.” and you asked:

    Moved…where? How? You do know in Link2SD you shouldn’t “Move to SD Card” (since they are already there), but rather “Create Link,” yes?”

    Well, 2 things happens when I install apps as follows:
    (1) apps may automatically installs on the card.
    (2) apps may be installs on the phone memory. In this case I go to Link2sd and select the option “move to sd card”.

    I really thank you for your time and responding to my questions

  20.  

  21. Fred160628 Says:

    Hi Charlie:

    Please ignore the message that I posted on October 7th, 2013 at 2;07 pm. I found the answer. I should have done “Create Link” instead of using “Move to SD Card”.

    I also use “Paragon ExtFS for Windows” I can access the EXT2 partition and access the contents of that partition. Information on the Phone and a 32 GB Card as follows:

    Internal Phone memory: 90 MB Free, 60 MB Used.

    On the SD Card (first Partition): 18.3 GB Free, 1.17 Used (Mostly my files and APK App files. I copied original download APK App files to SD Card for installations).

    ON the EXT2 Partition (2nd Partiotion): 9.52 GB Free, 676 MB Used.

    Q1: Can I delete original downloaded APK app files after installing those APK Files?

    Q2: Can I copy the contents of both partitions into another card for backup purposes.

    Q3: Still one thing that I am puzzled with is that many people talk about Link2SD “Storage Info” Menu that I don’t know how to access it. Link2SD “Storage Info” should provide information on “Internal Memory free space”, “SD Card Memory free space”, & “SD Card 2nd Partition free space”. Is there such a thing as Link2SD “Storage Info” Menu.

    Thank you very much again.

  22.  

  23. Charlie Summers Says:

    Fred160628 Says:
    Please ignore the message that I posted on October 7th, 2013 at 2;07 pm. I found the answer. I should have done “Create Link” instead of using “Move to SD Card”.

    Yup, that’s the one.

    Q1: Can I delete original downloaded APK app files after installing those APK Files?

    I delete ‘em from the phone, although I admit I keep copies of everything I’ve installed on my Windows box. That way, if I get a new device (like the Tronsmart MK908) I don’t have to hunt around for the things and can quickly transfer and sideload on the new device.

    Q2: Can I copy the contents of both partitions into another card for backup purposes.

    Lord, yes, please do. See this blog post for my story of woe when my memory card blew up without having a backup of that second partition…

    Q3: <snip> Is there such a thing as Link2SD “Storage Info” Menu.

    You bet’cha, and it’s really revealing how your phone uses its memory. When in Link2SD, just hit the menu button (on the Dart, the one under the screen, far-left next to the Home button) and you’ll find it there along with Settings, About, etc.

  24.  

  25. stan Says:

    I am down to almost the final steps–but when I key in cat /dev/block/bml5 > /sdcard/bml5.img

    I get the response /dev/block/bml15 No such file or directory.

    Please help

  26.  

  27. Charlie Summers Says:

    > I get the response /dev/block/bml15 No such file or directory.

    that’s Bee-Em-Ell-#Five…the filename is bml5, NOT Bee-Em-#One-#Five. In caps it would be BML5, but unix is case-sensitive unlike windows, so bml5 and BML5 are completely different things.

    Cheat…copy the line from the web page, and paste it into the adb command window.

    If that isn’t the problem, write back and we’ll take another shot at it.

  28.  

  29. stan Says:

    That worked. thank you very, very much


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