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No OTA Updates on Unlocked Phone w/Different Carrier?

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by kevelev, Jan 3, 2020.

  1. kevelev

    kevelev Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Phone: Samsung Galaxy S9+, Model: SM-G965U (used in the United States)
    Android version: 8.0.0
    Current Carrier: Mint Mobile

    Before I start with the question, here's some of the phone's history. I bought the phone off eBay. It was listed as unlocked and ready to be used with any carrier. The phone was originally a Verizon phone, and when booting the phone up it still displays the Verizon logo, and it also still has some Verizon bloatware that came with it. My intention was to use Tracfone as the carrier, who I've used for years. I was able to use Tracfone as the carrier, but the phone still showed Verizon as it booted up, but that's not a real concern. My concern was I was never able to update to Android 9 OTA. I then switched carriers to Mint Mobile because they were having a sale. Each carrier worked fine as far as using the phone, but every time I checked for OTA updates, it would say that my phone is up to date. So I am still stuck with Android 8. I figured it was because the carrier I used wasn't pushing the updates. However, my brother bought a used Galaxy S8+ (older) and was still able to get an OTA update for Android 9 with Tracfone as the carrier.

    So my question is: What can I do to either get OTA updates? Is there a way to undo the "Verizonness" of the phone? I know my phone Samsung will be releasing Android 10 for my phone soon, and I want to be able to use that. I installed the Samsung Members App but again, it doesn't find updates for my device for some reason. What about manually installing the latest version after it's available?

    I've had to manually update my Galaxy Note 4 in the past using a PC, but I'd rather correct the problem through other means first if possible.
     



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  2. MrJavi

    MrJavi Android Expert

  3. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    You can download firmware for manual install from sammobile.com. I'd advise backing up first.

    I've heard that carrier phones won't detect updates when connected to another carrier, but as I never buy carrier-branded phones I've not had direct experience of this.
     
    dontpanicbobby and Unforgiven like this.
  4. kevelev

    kevelev Newbie
    Thread Starter


    I do remember trying to do this with Samsung Smart Switch and getting nowhere. I can try again. I have allowed for automatic software updates to be downloaded. Maybe my brother's phone started it's life as an unlocked phone, unlike mine and that's why his works.
     
    MrJavi likes this.
  5. kevelev

    kevelev Newbie
    Thread Starter

    How do I know which version to download? So I know I want to use USA, but that doesn't completely narrow it down. Does it matter which one I get after that? I believe Mint mobile uses T-Mobile towers, so should I select USA (T-Mobile) and then download the latest version? Will this remove the Verizon boot-up screen? Honestly, I'd rather have a clean version of android that doesn't come with any bloatware if possible.
     
  6. MrJavi

    MrJavi Android Expert


    Sammobile version will require you to enter a county code .
     
  7. Unforgiven

    Unforgiven ...eschew obfuscation...
    Moderator

    That is my understanding. I also buy carrier unlocked phones.
    FWIW, I have no problems with OTAs from Mint Mobile, so they aren't the culprit. I've used them with Le Eco Le Max, Moto X4, and the Google Pixel 3a, all carrier unlocked. All got updates at or before similar devices on other networks.
     
    MrJavi likes this.
  8. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    The full model number is the starting point for finding the right firmware. After that look for country and carrier - and as the phone was originally Verizon I'd guess Verizon is what you are looking for (I don't know whether the official tools will let you install a different carrier's firmware, or non-carrier firmware, as I don't have a recent Samsung. Other manufacturers often check this and will not let you flash the wrong carrier's firmware). If carrier matters then it will be the original carrier, not the current one. Hopefully a Samsung owner will be able to give more specific advice.

    If it allows you to flash non-carrier firmware you'll lose the Verizon splash screen, otherwise you won't. Even an unbranded Samsung has more pre-installed stuff than most other manufacturers.
     
    MrJavi likes this.
  9. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues Compassion is cool!
    VIP Member

    I don't buy my phones from a carrier, yet every phone has been AT&T branded. I order directly from Motorola, but part of the process--mandatory--involves specifying your carrier.

    Last year I switched carriers, to Consumer Cellular, but my phone still boots up as, and contains non-removable bloatware from, AT&T. :rolleyes:
     
    MrJavi likes this.
  10. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    Yeah, carrier control runs much deeper in the US than in most of the world, even on the GSM networks where there is no need for it at all. These days most phones can work on any network, but maybe it's something that started back when each network needed or could demand its own phones (CDMA networks could control absolutely what handset they accepted, while ATT & T-Mobile used partially-incompatible 3G bands) and it suits the carriers to keep doing this.

    It's much simpler here in Europe: we had common standards from the start, so since the mid-90s (when phones started supporting more than one band) you've been able to use any handset on any network just by inserting a SIM and so the only people who sell carrier-locked phones are the carrier's own stores (in those countries which allow carrier-locking at all, which not all do).
     
  11. kevelev

    kevelev Newbie
    Thread Starter

    OK, well I feel more confused now. Is there a version that I can pick that will make this a "carrier-less" phone? Can installing the wrong firmware cause the phone to be bricked? I will likely wait for Android 10 to come out for my device, but I will still have the same questions regardless of which android version I use.
     
  12. kevelev

    kevelev Newbie
    Thread Starter

    What does carrier unlocked mean? Does it mean that it was originally a carrier phone that got unlocked or is it a phone that was never associated with a carrier? I guess I want to know how you're getting OTA updates with Mint Mobile. My phone started as a Verizon phone, but I use Mint...
     
    MrJavi likes this.
  13. Unforgiven

    Unforgiven ...eschew obfuscation...
    Moderator

    Exactly that. I purchase my phones direct as Unlocked. I simply put in my Mint Mobile sim and is works.
    Directly from the manufacturer, which at the moment is Google.
    I think in that scenario you have to get the OTA from VZW, so probably only when you are on WiFi. All of the firmware must be unmodified though.
     
    MrJavi likes this.
  14. MrJavi

    MrJavi Android Expert

    You may have another problem that you may not be aware of. Mint Model is on a GSM network while Verizon is on CDMA. Theres a good chance you will not get 4g/lte even with the proper firmware. I believe it's do to te hardware of the motherboard.
     
  15. kevelev

    kevelev Newbie
    Thread Starter

    OK. It looks like Android 10 has finally come out for the S9+ for Verizon US. I'm gonna give that a try. One thing I'm unsure of is if my Mint Mobile data will be lost. I assume not because all my apps will get backed up, and the SIM card should be unaffected by the update, correct? I've manually updated my Note 4 in the past, is there anything I should be a ware of when doing this update?
     
  16. Unforgiven

    Unforgiven ...eschew obfuscation...
    Moderator

    My MintMobile sim has never been affected by an OTA. The only problem I've ever had was with my new S20 and having to manually enter my APN. Not a big deal, just an annoyance. If you already have the information entered I don't see any reason the OTA would wipe them out or alter them.
     
    MrJavi likes this.
  17. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    A full update, applied using a computer, might however do a factory reset (I don't know Samsungs, but it does for some manufacturers).
     
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  18. kevelev

    kevelev Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Well, that sounds nice, but my phone doesn't receive OTA updates.
     
  19. kevelev

    kevelev Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Thought I'd post this for anyone else with the same situation. So I went ahead and installed the Android 10 fimware from Sammobile for Verizon. After rebooting, etc, my phone now thinks its a T-Mobile phone. I think because these newer phones work with both cell network types nowadays, it just recognized what it needed. But yeah, booting the phone, there is no indication of Verizon anymore. It even installed some T-Mobile apps. I'm still using Mint Mobile by the way, and when I pull down the menu it says Mint. I also got an OTA update! So it sounds like I just needed a fresh install because Mint uses T-Mobile towers I think, so now everythings working in sync.
     
    Hadron and Unforgiven like this.

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