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Support Galaxy S6 caught in reboot loop - just want to back up.

Discussion in 'Android Help' started by JayX, Jul 22, 2016.

  1. JayX

    JayX Lurker
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    Hi all

    My wife put her phone to charge the other night, and out of nowhere it started acting strangely. At first it wouldn't take charge and it wouldn't stay on. She'd been complaining about bad battery life recently, and we noticed the other day the USB plug at the phone side felt unusually warm the other day - most likely symptoms of an impending failure, in hindsight.

    I've managed to get it to charge up to 100% now (by eventually getting the device to power down - doing this by pressing the power button, and confirming, would still continue the reboot loop), but it's still stuck in a reboot loop. It'll go through all the logos, get to the launcher and let me use it as normal for about 30-40 seconds then kick into reboot. The graphics are sometimes corrupt, and I've noticed a 'pulsing' to the brightness. It looks pretty fatal, and we submitted an insurance claim that's been accepted. The only problem is the device has never been backed up, and we'd like to rescue the photos she took of our engagement party, wedding, travels etc from the last year or so.

    I've tried everything I've found based on searching to try and work this, but nothing has succeeded so far. I'm an iOS guy (sorry!) so I may not have exhausted every option, this is what I've tried and crossed off so far

    1. I've installed KIES, Smart Switch, and WonderShare Dr. Fone and all seems to recognise the handset and looks like they would work if I could get it to stay stable
    2. I've enabled Developer Access by pressing the build number 7 times and enabled USB debugging
    3. I've managed to get into the recovery mode and tried the following
    3a. Wiped the cache/partition
    3b. Rebooted in Safe mode

    I've disabled WiFi, removed the SIM, put into airplane etc and nothing seems to have made a difference with regards to it losing stability and rebooting.

    Has anyone suffered anything similar, and know of a way to stabilise? I don't care about any other functionality other than backing up any data I can get my hand on. Thanks!
     

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  2. svim

    svim Android Expert
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    So it appears as if you've run through just about all the normal things to get that S6 into at least a usable state again so this is just something of a last resort solution. And to be honest I think there's a hardware issue involved so this may not help anway but maybe try replacing the stock ROM.
    The ROM and other related system partitions are separate from the user data partition (where those valued photos are stored) so in most instances a new or a replacement ROM won't affect that user partition. But replacing a ROM isn't a trivial task (there's always a chance of bricking that phone, or inadvertently wiping the user data partition), and you'll want to replace it with the same, stock ROM as what that S6 is currently running. Take a look here and narrow it down to your model/carrier S6:
    http://samsung-updates.com/latest-firmware/
    Here's a summary that explains the process you'll need to do:
    https://www.maketecheasier.com/restore-stock-rom-for-samsung-devices-android/
    (Note the author only refers to 'Odin', a Windows-only utility but if you have a Linux or Mac there's 'Heimdall', an Open Source, functional equivalent to Odin. http://glassechidna.com.au/heimdall )
     
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  3. JayX

    JayX Lurker
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    Thanks for that info, I'll definitely read through it as it's not something I knew about. Thanks especially for the OSX software name, as while I can access a PC here - it's not mine, and I'm happier working with software on my MacBook.

    Is it likely that messing with the ROM might affect the insurance claim? We have to return the handset to them, and while we'd like the data back, we also don't want them saying we've tampered with the device in a way they wouldn't be happy with and try bill us for a huge amount (they've quoted $900 if the handset isn't returned!)
     
  4. svim

    svim Android Expert
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    As far as I know reflashing a factory, stock ROM won't work against a warranty. A third-party ROM on the other hand, a process that typically includes rooting and replacing the Recovery, would be what's considered to be a 'violation'. If I'm wrong hopefully others will correct me.

    Of course insurance companies don't want to pay off any claims unless absolutely necessary so there is that. If anything take a video of what's going on with that S6 and then try replacing the ROM so you have some kind of before and after documentation.
    In any case, it's a bummer you have to return it because if on a remote chance it is fixable, it's your wife's personal data on there that would be at that point out of your possession. Be sure she resets all the passwords to whatever services she had set up on that phone (her Google account, Facebook account, etc.). Chances are once it's determined to be messed up it will just be salvaged for parts but if it is restored it's best if any logins on that phone won't be usable.
    On her next phone, I recommend installing something like Google Photo, it's a photo manager up front but more importantly in the background there's a backup/sync option so her photos will automatically backup and sync to her online Google account.
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.photos&hl=en
     
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  5. JayX

    JayX Lurker
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    I've managed to get a version of Heimdall that works with my version of OSX (because naturally, nothing ever works the way you expect!) and grabbed the appropriate firmware from the Samsung Update site. However, Heimdall prefers a specifically packaged version of the ROM and without it, needs a PIT file which this ROM TAR doesn't contain (it's all .bin and .img files). Feels like I'm missing something?

    At worst, I might be able to borrow a Windows laptop here and hope nobody minds me installing some things on it, and see if Odin is happy with the files I've procured...
     
  6. svim

    svim Android Expert
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    If it's just a file format matter (type of archive file) you might be able to just convert that downloaded file so it's the proper file type for Heimdall to work with it.
    This Unarchiver utility should be able to extract it (.. .and actually it should be a default utility on every OS X/MacOS system anyway):
    http://unarchiver.c3.cx/unarchiver
    This Gui Tar utility can then re-package the folder into whichever file type you need:
    https://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/14503/gui-tar
     
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  7. JayX

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    I couldn't do anything to get Heimdall to recognise the package, but I managed to get the PIT file and started the process to get the files onto the phone... and then the frontend couldn't find the backend for some reason. So after a ton of time in the backend command line (which for some reason would only connect and talk to the phone properly on any first attempt following the phone being put into download mode), I was able to do a SYSTEM.IMG replacement.

    Alas, nothing is different. I'm not sure if replacing any of the other partitions would be any use (presumably system being the biggest file by far it contains most of the components the phone uses once boot is complete), but I'm willing to give one last stab before I send it off.

    The PIT I have lists:

    I think I'm essentially ready to call it a write off however. I'm very grateful for the help you've provided in trying this out though, it's much appreciated. At least I didn't go down without a fight, ha.
     
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  8. svim

    svim Android Expert
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    Hat tip to you for all your efforts, no one can say you just gave up when things got rough. Reading back through this thread, after all the things you have tried I'm inclined to think this is boiling down to a hardware issue. Hopefully there will be that compensation check to fall back on for a good replacement phone. As an aside, if you're curious go to this link and scroll down to step 10.
    https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Samsung+Galaxy+S6+Teardown/39174
    Highlighted in orange is the memory storage chip, where all your wife's data is stored including those photos. It's not in a socket, it's soldered to the motherboard so it's not a matter of just pulling the chip and sticking into a new board.
     
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  9. JayX

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    The insurance company have been pretty good to be honest, it was a $200 charge (ouch!) but they overnighted a 'new' S6 handset via FedEx for the next morning, and gave 10 days to return the old one. Shame it wasn't 'lost' so I could've had a bit more time, and been able to move forward with something like a chip removal but it doesn't really seem an option on a handset where I've told them the condition.

    It's been a useful process to learn with though, although getting rid of KIES in it's entirety seems to be a lot of fun as not even the regular App Cleaner has been able to strip out the KEXTs it installed. At least it shouldn't cause any issues with my machine!

    Thanks again for your help, it's been much appreciated.
     

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